This guest post was written by Cassidy Geppert. Cassidy is a licensed Yoga teacher and an avid gardener. Read her bio
* The yoga sequence is not a substitute for professional medical advice.
If you are experiencing pain please see your physician or other health care provider before attempting any yoga poses.*
The following is a simple sequence of yoga for gardeners to help you maintain a happy body while working the land.
Single stretches can be incorporated as needed into your garden time, or the series can be performed as a whole before or after gardening.
I have shown modifications using common gardening tools, both for fun and practicality, with the intention of illustrating that, with some creative reuse of everyday tools, you can practice yoga while you are working.
1. Cat/Cow (Bidalasana)
This is the classic spinal warm up.
Arch you lower back and send your chest forward on an inhale. Round your back and expand through your ribs and spine as you exhale.
Continue this undulation of your spine in unison with your inhale and exhale until you feel sufficiently loosened through your spine.
You may also hold the extension and flexion of your spine( cat/cow static poses) and breathe deeply into each pose, using your breath to open space between your vertebrae.
2. Downward Facing Dog ( Adho Muka Svanasana)
Press your palms firmly into the ground, extend through your arms and send your hips away from your shoulders.
Allow your head to move gently from side to side, releasing tension from your neck.
Press your heels towards the ground. If your heels do not reach you may place something below them to reach into.
I often have random bricks and two by fours in my garden. These would work perfectly.
Stay here for five full breaths.
3. Forward Fold (Uttanasana)
Keep your feet hips width apart an engage the inner arches of your feet. On a full exhalation lengthen your torso over your legs
Bend your knees as much as needed in order to keep a sense of space and ease through the low back. Tight hamstrings, which many gardeners have, can limit one’s ability to fold forward without rounding the back.
I have offered the modification of placing your arms or hands on a bucket in order to address this issue.
Stay here for five full breaths and take a nice deep inhale to reach yourself back up.
4. Cross Legged Forward Fold
Standing upright, cross your right foot over you left. Keep your legs crossed as you return, with an exhalation, to forward fold.
The cross of the leg helps us access the commonly tight Illio tibial band, especially in the leg that is crossed in front.
As in Uttanasana, bend your knees as needed to address tightness in the hamstrings.
Hold for five to ten breaths and return to standing with an inhale.
Repeat with the left leg crossed in front.
5. Wrist Opener
Extend you right arm forward and parallel to the ground, with your fingers turned up towards the sky.
Take your left fingers to meet your right fingers. Gently pull back on your right hand with your left while you extend through the right wrist.
Hold for five to ten breaths. Repeat on the left side.
6. L Shaped Pose
You can do this pose against any solid surface that will not move when you push it. Our garden gate was sufficient for this picture.
Begin standing upright, facing the surface you are using. Place both hands firmly on the surface.
Exhale as you push your hips away from your hands. Your arms will angle up slightly to allow for full extension through your back.
Keep your belly engaged towards your spine and your shoulder blades drawing together on your back.
Hold for 5-10 breaths, imagining your spine lengthening with each breath. Inhale fully to come back to upright.
7. Cactus Arms
Standing upright with your feet hip width apart and your feet engaged, bend your elbows to a ninety degree angle.
Draw your shoulder blades towards each other and towards your spine.
Keep this action in the scapula as you drop the shoulders away from your ears.
This pose is helpful for counter balancing all the forward leaning and shoulder rounding we do while weeding, hoeing, digging, etc.
Hold for five to ten breaths. You may also use a shovel in your hands to get a deep stretch across the front of your chest.
8. Revolved Chest Opener
Once again, the garden gate or any other stable, flat surface will suffice for this pose
Place your right hand at chest height on the surface with your arm full extended. Push your hand into the surface as you turn the rest of our body to the left.
You may bend your right elbow if need be to access the deeper muscles of the chest.
Hold for 5-10 breaths. Exhale to return to facing your right hand, and switch sides.
9. Gomukhasana Arms
This funny Sanskrit name means “cow face”. I have offered the classical version, with hands meeting each other, or a modified version using a shovel handle.
With an inhale lift your right arm up and bend your elbow, turning your upper arm in towards your face and releasing the right hand towards your back.
As you exhale reach your left arm, behind you, bending your elbow once the hand meets your back.
From here, roll you left shoulder back and extend up through your right elbow. Hold this deep chest and shoulder opener for 5-10 breaths, releasing both arms on an exhale. Switch sides.
10. Reclined Hand to Foot
Lay on your back and bed your right knee in towards your chest, keeping your left leg extended on the ground. (I have used a garden hose for the picture, but a strap or spare long sleeve shirt will work equally well.)
Place the hose around the big toe mound of your right foot and extend your right leg straight up, pushing your foot into the hose.
If your left hip lifts off the ground, take your left hand and gently push the top of your left thigh down.
Hold you right leg extended for 5-10 breaths, and release you right leg down slowly with an exhale. Switch sides.
11. Child's Pose ( Balasana)
Come to the ground with your knees bent.
As you exhale, send your hips to your heels and release your upper body forward to the ground.
Allow a bit of space between your legs for your belly to relax into. Stay here for 5-10 breaths. Inhale to come up.
12. Reclined Spinal Twist
Lay on your back with your legs fully extended and your arms extended out to the sides in the shape of a T.
On an inhale draw your knees up to your chest, and as you exhale, drop your knees over to the right.
Keep the knees at a 90 degree angle as you turn your head to look over your left shoulder. Hold for 5-10 breaths.
Draw your knees back to center with an inhale. Exhale to switch sides.
13. Straw Bale Final Resting Pose (Savasana)
This is a creative use of garden supplies, and this modification is especially helpful for releasing your low back after a long day of work.
You could also rest the legs up a wall or bend the knees over the seat of a chair.
Whatever props or variation of the legs that you choose, make sure you feel fully supported and that you lengthen your spine down along the ground.
Once lying down, take your hands on the tops of your thighs and give a gentle push, moving your femurs away from your torso thus creating extra length through your low back.
Release you hands back along the sides of your body. Rest here for 5-10 minutes or until the cows come home 🙂