by Sandra Helpsmeet
If you are reading this article, then you are also probably itching to get out in the garden, if you aren’t out there right now. For me it is one of the highlights of the year to begin to work the soil again. It can also be a difficult time for one’s body, as there is suddenly a lot asked of it that it has not been doing since last summer, work that is demanding and asymmetrical. I am going to share with you a few tricks from Alignment Yoga that can help your body prepare for gardening, and some “garden vinayasa”’ you can do while you work in the garden.
Preparation: Gardening is notoriously hard on our backs, with all the spading, hauling, bending, and lifting. These techniques will help you support your back by waking up other muscles that can help do the work so that your back doesn’t end up doing it all.
Dead Bug Pose
Keep your back as it is while you lift your legs up, knees over your hips. If your back arches, press the small of your back into the floor and keep it there as you work. Inhale as your limbs move up, exhale as they move down. Repeat that sequence five to ten more times.
Dead Bug Pose II
Lift the hands and feet upward (legs do not need to be straight, you just need to be able to see your feet). Keeping your pelvis stable. Go only as far as you can without tipping. Inhale as limbs go out, exhale and draw them back in to center. Repeat that sequence five to ten more times.
Deep Hip Flexor Wake-Up
Sit near the front of a chair with as flat a seat as you can find. Place your hands on your hips and press them into your hips to make and maintain a firm connection. Press your sit bones down into the seat of the chair firmly to help you sit up tall and keep them pressing. Feel your feet against the floor. Take the space of a few breaths to feel the tops of the thigh bones, up near the top of your legs, dropping into the backs of your legs. Keeping the sit bones pressing the chair, slowly lift the right knee up so that your right foot is a few inches off the floor. As you lift the knee, picture the top of the thigh bone continuing to drop down. Now slowly move your right foot upward until it is high enough that you can see the whole foot. Then slowly lower it to the position just above the floor where you began. Keep your sit bones pressing as you repeat the movements of the foot four more times. Then slowly lower your leg so your foot returns to the floor. Pause and repeat with the left leg.
Moving Warrior I
Stand with your feet as wide apart as you are comfortable with. Turn the right foot out 90 degrees and the left foot in 30 degrees. Root all four corners of both feet and keeping them steadily rooted, bend the right knee with the out breath and unbend it with the in breath—five times. Then stay in the bent knee position for five to ten breaths.
Sandra Helpsmeet, 500 RYT is the program director of the Yoga Center of Eau Claire where she teaches classes and offers private lessons and therapeutic sessions.