RODALE NEWS, EMMAUS, PA—There's almost nothing as gratifying as growing your own organic food in your backyard—that's about as local as it gets! And though gardening helps us get out and exercise while providing fresh, healthy produce, and/or beautiful flowers for pollinators, the constant pulling, pushing, and lifting motions involved with it can leave us feeling a bit stiff and out of alignment. For relief, we turned to senior-certified Iyengar yoga instructor Rebecca Lerner, codirector of the Center for Well Being in Lemont, PA, to suggest some poses everyday gardeners could practice to rejuvenate after a day of weeding, mulching, hoeing, digging, and pruning. You can practice any or all of these poses in your garden, and even use garden staples and trees in your yard to assist in a better stretch. Use the poses to work out the kinks after some time in the garden, or do them regularly to stay limber.
Downward Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)
This classic yoga pose will help open your shoulders and chest and the backs of your legs while strengthening your upper body. For people with stiffer joints, try using a bench for support, as shown.
To assume the pose, bend at the waist so your hands are flat on the ground or on a support. Your hands should be 6 to 12 inches apart. Keep your knees bent, about hip-width apart, and let your heels lift off the ground. Slowly start to straighten your knees—but don’t lock them. Gently begin to move your upper body in toward your thighs until your ears are in line with your upper arms. Keep your hips up (don't let them sag) and at the same time push strongly into your hands. Llift your sit bones toward the sky so that your body makes an inverted "V."
Repeat this, and the following poses, three to five times.