Yoga for Gardening – Preparing the Soil

The promise of delicious, sweet heirloom tomatoes, the delight of a rich palette of coneflowers, and the smell of baked squash…it’s within reach now that the days are longer, the nights milder and the temperatures are rising.  To the gardener, it’s a mixture of science, weather, prayers and hard work that leads to that beautiful bouquet, summer salad or harvest meal.  And no gardener wants a sore back, cranky knees or aching shoulder to stop them.  Here’s where yoga can save the day (or the season!) for any gardener.

Not only does yoga infuse your character with the patience, calmness and perseverance necessary for gardening, it also prepares your body for the task.  Let’s begin with how to prepare for gardening.

Keep the muscles that support your spine and major joints (elbows, wrists, shoulders, hips, knees and ankles) strong, stable and flexible so that you have more optimal alignment in the spine and joints (which means less nerve impingement and pain).

Pre-Gardening Yoga Program

  1. Sun Circles – From a standing position, on INHALE, make a large sun-like movement with your arms out to the side and up overhead while “whirl gigging” your hands (wrist circles).  On EXHALE, repeat the movement back down, bringing your hands/arms back to your sides.  Repeat 4 – 6 times, progressively making your breath longer, deeper and smoother.
  2. The Garden Flow (See photos) – From a standing position (posture 1); INHALE your arms wide to the side and up and overhead (like a big sun-like movement – posture 2).  On EXHALE, sweep your arms wide to the side, pulling the belly inward as you bend your knees deeply (as if you were sitting back into an imaginary chair) and allow your hands to rest alongside your feet (posture 3).  On INHALE, keep the knees bent and lift the chest bringing hands in front of you as if you were holding onto a big rubber ball (posture 4a).  On EXHALE, go back down taking your hands to the floor/ground (posture 3).  On INHALE, sweep your arms wide to the side and up overhead as you slowly lift the chest and progressively straighten your legs (posture 2).  On EXHALE, bring your arms back down to your side (posture 1).  Repeat 4 – 6 times.  You can also substitute posture 4b for 4a.
  3. Shoulder Circles – Lift shoulders up and back and down and away from the ears and back up from the front side.  Do at least 6 times.  Then repeat in the opposite direction 6 times.  Then come back and do the first variation 6 times.

This pre-gardening program will mobilize your spine and major joints as well as help you develop strength in the muscles that support your spine, hips and knees.