By Minyette Burke, Wellness Specialist at Twin Towers Senior Living Community
If you enjoy gardening it’s important to keep your muscles active and ready so you can participate in your time outdoors more fully, and yoga stretches can help.
Yoga is an exercise that increases flexibility, strength and muscle building. These yoga stretches for gardeners can prepare your body to move in ways similar to those you would when gardening.
Whether you are a regular in yoga class or not, you can adopt these simple techniques to reduce muscle strain and rejuvenate your body before or after a full day in the garden.
1. Upward Salute
Helps bring the spine back to a neutral position, after all of the bending forward and rounding of the back.
Stand tall, feet forward and rooted into the earth. Shoulders, hips, knees and ankles aligned. Crown lifted toward the sky, abdominals engaged and spine elongated. Chest slightly lifted with shoulders back, down and close to your ears.
- Inhaling bring your arms up towards sky, reaching through your finger tips and relaxing your shoulders down. Lifting through your chest, while keeping your ribs down toward your pelvis. Abdominals should be engaged to help protect your spine.
- You can take this movement to each side. Keep your arms stretched and reaching to your front and sides of the abdominals.
Minyette’s Expert Tips: Keep your tailbone rooted towards the ground, this helps prevent an exaggerated curve in the lower or lumbar spine, also keep elbows from bending which prevents the lengthening of your sides.
2. Forward Fold/ Half Forward Fold
Great lower back release and aids the gardener when reaching and bending over. This a great pose to try after digging, hoeing, or raking.
Standing tall with feet together or no more than hip width apart, root feet into earth micro bend in knees. Lift crown of head up toward the sky. Lengthen spine, bend forward at hips leading with chest, keeping abdominals engaged.
- Fold half way over into a chair or bend all the way down toward floor, bringing your hands to the ground or a block while keeping back straight.
Minyette’s Expert Tips: As you bend forward for the half fold keep your back long and flat. Bend your knees as much as you need to, or place your hands on your shins, a wall, chair, or exercise block, emphasize lengthening the torso instead of bringing hands down to floor.
3. Wide Legged Forward Fold
This pose creates stability when trimming or pruning in your garden.
Stand with feet wide and kept parallel to each other. Really root feet into the earth through the four corners of your feet (heels and pads) micro bend in knees. Engage your abdominals.
- Lengthen your spine, and bend forward at your hips bringing your hands to the ground, block or chair. Keep back nice and straight and knees soft.
Minyette’s Expert Tips: Be mindful of recent or chronic injury to your spine or lower extremities.
4. Hero Pose
Many gardeners find themselves on their knees, this pose is great preparation for that movement.
Come up on your knees from seated position or all fours, top of feet flat on floor. Back is straight, abdominals engaged, crown of your head is lifted and shoulders in line with your hips.
- Bring your bottom down toward the ground, resting on the earth or on top of your legs. Keep spine elongated.
- Use a folded blanket under your knees if they are sensitive or tight.
Minyette’s Expert Tips: This pose should be avoided if you have knee issues.
5. Squat Pose
This position helps to release tension in the lower back and adds mobility in the hips while weeding. Remember to keep your back straight.
Stand with your feet more than hip width apart and rooted into the ground, bring your tailbone straight down towards the earth, coming into a squatted position.
- Keep your back elongated and adjust your feet to fit your comfort level, you want them wide enough to stay flat on the ground. You can come half way down to allow your muscles and joints to get used to squatting.
- Abdominals should be engaged to protect your spine and chest slightly lifted. Crown of your head should reach towards the sky. Use a chair or stool to help with balance and stability if you need it.
Minyette’s Expert Tips: A folded towel or blanket is beneficial if your heels don’t come flat and this pose should be avoided if you have knee issues.
These poses can be used before gardening, after or even during your daily gardening routine.
Wellness Specialists like Minyette, are expertly trained to develop workout routines and exercises that are personalized to your goals. The Twin Towers fitness center, The Connection, offers a variety of classes and equipment specifically designed for those aged 50+. The Aquatic Center includes a 75-foot heated pool, aquatic bikes, and a whirlpool.
Our fitness center is open to the community and memberships are available. For more information on The Connection or Twin Towers, contact us online or give us a call at 513-853-2000.