The yoga of gardening

When I wrote about being mindful of my need for breaks, I mentioned that responding to my body’s cues while gardening would be a more advanced challenge. I think I’ve found a simple way to manage it.

What’s been working pretty well, injury-avoidance-wise, is to pay attention to my body the way I would in yoga class, or Pilates. As I snip off sprigs of wild arugula, I imagine that I’m allowing my spine to lengthen between head and tailbone. As I lean over the blueberry bush, hunting for ripe berries, I let the lean become a lunge and feel the stretch. As I haul out the hose, I remind myself to contract my abdominal muscles, protecting my back by engaging my core. I remind myself to notice where I need to adjust, moment by moment, to keep my body safe.

I’m also realizing that gardening while rushed is usually an exercise in frustration and annoyance. (You could make the same point about yoga class, and maybe about doing anything while rushed.) My “quick trips” through the garden are never quick, something I’m working on accepting. Better to let the plants go thirsty a few extra days, than to try to squeeze in the watering on a crowded or imminent-deadline day. As I give myself permission to quit watching the clock, I get to reap more of that benefit that gardeners talk about, the absorption and flow.

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