The peace and serenity of a garden offer a literal breath of fresh air to your weekly routine. The practice of working in the dirt, surrounded by the fragrance of tomato leaves and bright blossoms, calms your mind and body. A welcome relief to the stressors and monotony of work, playing in the garden is the ultimate form of relaxation. Spending quiet hours in the garden with your plants, examining their leaves, and watering their thirsty roots becomes a sort of meditation. You might give a little stretch after finishing a task or in between planters, practicing some type of gardening yoga.
Start by letting your mind drift away from obsessive thoughts and to-do lists, and be present in the moment. Meditation is more than sitting with your eyes closed and chanting a mantra, although some may repeat phrases or prayers as they garden. The practice of losing yourself in action for the good of your body and mind is integral to meditation. Focus on your actions rather than allowing your thoughts to distract you, so that subsequently, when times are stressful later, you recall thoughts of peace.
Physical practices like yoga are combined with meditation because you focus on both the body motions and pattern of breathing. As one becomes more absorbed by their breath, the tensions of life can melt away and grant a state of peace. Gardening and yoga practices may not seem similar in actions but are linked through therapeutic benefits.
Ultimately, gardening yoga is a hybrid practice, which is adaptable to your needs because it is meant to benefit you. Yoga for gardeners can actually improve your health, both physically and mentally. Moreover, you can even practice yoga in your garden for a more profound sense of connection with nature and your place in it. Read on for some gardening yoga tips.
Gardening Yoga: Connect to Nature
Take your yoga mat outside! First, find some smooth, flat ground to place your mat on and get comfortably seated.
Look all around you. If you are in your garden, you are probably familiar with the sights. Maybe you are surrounded by some trees, a birdbath, rows of seedlings.
Root yourself into the ground, focusing on your connection to the earth, however you may be sitting. What is touching the ground? Reach your energy into the ground, like a plant’s roots reaching deep into the earth for its sustenance. Then straighten your spine, up towards the sky, like a healthy plant stem growing towards the sun.
Give yourself permission to relax. As you begin, close your eyes and focus on your breathing. In and out, letting your body relax with each exhale.
With closed eyes, analyze your garden again. What do you hear? The rustle of wind through the leaves, maybe little bug moving through the grass or a bird chirping from the sky. Can you hear your own breath? You are a part of the garden as well. Rest here in this peaceful awareness until you feel centered.
Now open your eyes, and perhaps you see the garden surrounding you differently, noticing small details that you hadn’t before. Continue focusing on your breathing and begin gentle stretches.
Roll your head back and forth, wiggle your fingers and prepare to stretch the body by moving through some yoga poses.
Gardening Yoga: Poses for Gardeners
Even if you prefer to practice yoga inside, to avoid bugs or rain, it will still benefit you as a gardener. Gardening can cause specific aches and pains from repeated motions of bending and twisting. Yoga can help alleviate the tension on your muscles.
Combining a yoga flow of targeted stretches will relieve the pains of bending and pulling and working the earth.
Start with child’s pose. A gentle seated stretch, knees and shins on the ground, sit on your heels, then bend forwards, laying over your thighs. Stretch your arms forwards, creeping fingers away from your torso to deepen the stretch. Child’s pose will stretch out the back and spine.
From child’s pose, raise up onto your hands and knees for a series of cat and cow. Inhale as you bend your back up toward the sky, and exhale back down with gentle motions. Wiggle your body in any way that you feel may need to be stretched more. Move your head from side to side, loosening up the spine and neck.
After that, the next position you should transition into is downward dog. Lift from your hands and knees, shifting your weight forwards onto your hands and lift your backside into the air. Your body should resemble a triangle with your hands and feet on the ground.
Downward dog will really stretch your legs out, especially the hamstrings. Depending on how tight your leg muscles are, you can vary the distance between your hands and feet. The closer together your hands and feet are, the more gentle the stretch. In addition, feel free to take gentle steps as you breathe through this stretch if your hamstrings are feeling particularly tight.
Next, walk your feet to your hands, so you are standing with your legs straight and back still bent over your legs. Stand slightly, and let your arms and neck hang loose, letting gravity do its job, stretching out the neck and shoulders.
Stand from this position slowly, then stretch your arms to the sky. Feel free to reach side to side and twist gently as your stretch upwards, like a flower growing towards the sun. Remember to listen to your body as you practice gardening yoga.
Gardening Yoga: Be Kind to Yourself
Finally, as you begin a practice in gardening yoga, be gentle with your body and mind. Don’t feel pressured to have a perfect yoga session. Certainly, there could be some moments where you feel off balance or distracted. That is ok! Part of the release of stress is learning how to flow with things when they don’t go how we wanted.
Frequently Asked Questions: Gardening Yoga
Do I need to have any equipment for gardening yoga?
Yoga can require as little or as much equipment as you need it to. Decide if you are practicing inside or outside, this will help you figure out what types of equipment you need. Most yogis use a yoga mat to lay down on the ground and help your grip. For example, in certain poses some yogis use a foam block to improve balance. Ultimately, if you aren’t afraid of getting a little dirty, you can do the above stretches without any equipment.
What is meditation?
Meditation is a practice in mindfulness, which involves focusing the mind on a certain action or thought for the purpose of a mentally clear and emotionally calm state. Gardening compares to meditation and studies link it to mental health benefits for healthy coping mechanisms.
Where can I learn more poses?
After your initial gardening yoga sessions have gone well, then you may be looking for more poses geared specifically towards a gardener’s body. There are plenty of resources on yoga and meditation practice. With a little research and practice, gardening yoga may become a regular part of your outdoor routine.