Gardening Asanas

Yoga Poses to Stay Pain-Free




Subbotina Anna/Shutterstock.com

Gardening is good for body and soul, but long hours and repetitive movements can negatively impact even the fittest body. While stiffness and pain patterns might manifest in the lower back, shoulders, legs and hands, performing a few yoga poses can lessen pain, increase flexibility, boost stamina and prevent injury.

“Every action needs a counter action for structural balance to be maintained. Repetitive movements can tighten fascia, restrict movement and compromise nerve impulses,” explains Asheville, North Carolina, yoga teacher and back care specialist Lillah Schwartz, author of Healing Our Backs with Yoga: An Essential Guide to Back Pain Relief. “What goes into spasm tends to remain in spasm,” observes Schwartz, who has helped many people overcome back pain and other chronic structural issues.

Practicing yoga before, during or after spending time outside also promotes mind-body awareness which helps us tune into our body’s natural rhythms and prevent physical problems in the first place. Here are some basics to consider when working in the garden.

Be Aware

Great agility and strong muscles cannot compensate for being in one position too long, over-reaching or fatigue. “Listen to your body’s messages such as, ‘It’s time for a rest,’ or, ‘That’s too heavy,’” recommends Schwartz. Remember to take regular breaks to rest, stretch and drink water.

Strike a Pose

Doing yoga regularly will condition the body, but incorporating asanas, or poses, while gardening can be both a fun and practical way to avoid overstressing certain muscle groups and keep the spine and hamstrings supple. Using props in the garden environment such as fences, a wall or a chair can provide convenient support.

Feel free to perform all poses before or after gardening, and all except numbers one and five in the garden.

photos by Michelle Van Sandt


1. Downward Facing Dog pose (Adho Mukha Svanasana) with feet placed against a support

2. Warrior 1 pose (Virabhadrasana I)

Yoga Poses

3. Straddle Forward Fold pose (Prasarita Padottanasana)

4. Standing Scissor Twist (Parivrtta Hasta Padasana) standing close to and bracing against a wall or fence

Yoga Poses

5. Locust pose (Salabhasana)

6. Squat Pull Spinal Traction (Ardha Malasana in traction)

Take a Breath

“Conscious breathing involves both the body and the mind. Long, slow inhalations and exhalations help us tune into our body,” says Schwartz. “Using long breaths when stretching in the garden can help muscles find relief.”

To reduce pain:

• Stop and breathe. Take slow, deep breaths with a pause (inhalation retention) between inhalation and exhalation.

• Don’t resist the pain or allow self-judgment.

• Wait for a release.

Enjoy Being Outside

Bringing mindfulness to garden work not only helps prevent injury, but helps make it a more enjoyable experience. Here are a few more tips.

• If rising early, begin time in the garden with a Warrior 1 pose while facing east.

• Be mindful of feeling the breeze when it brushes the skin and pause to breathe deeply.

• Notice the music of the birds or other pleasing sounds in the surrounding environment.

• Stop to drink some water and take pleasure in the garden’s beauty and bounty.


Marlaina Donato is a freelance writer, author and multimedia artist. Connect at MarlainaDonato.com.


This article appears in the April 2018 issue of Natural Awakenings.

Edit ModuleShow Tags

More from Natural Awakenings

Fight Back Naturally When Allergies Put the Bite on Pets

Because they’re built lower to the ground, our dogs and cats can pick up seasonal allergens on fur from grass, weeds, pollen, lawn chemicals and fleas.

Saving a Drop to Drink

Fresh water supplies are dwindling globally, including in the U.S., yet we can do things on a personal level to help hold onto this finite resource.

Air Care for Kids

Kids are especially sensitive to the pollen, chemicals, dust mites, mold and pet dander that cause allergies, but simple strategies can keep these culprits in check.

Meditation and Music Slow Cellular Aging

Doing a chanting meditation or listening to classical music 12 minutes a day for three months altered biomarkers associated with cellular aging and Alzheimer’s disease in adults with early memory loss.

Vegetables and Orange Juice Protect Memory

A Harvard study of 27,842 older male health professionals found those that ate the most vegetables and drank the most orange juice suffered less memory loss over a span of two decades.

Add your comment:
Edit ModuleShow Tags

See More »This Month

Shedd Educates Communities About Asian Carp Issues

The Shedd Aquarium is increasing its commitment to Great Lakes conservation with Asian Carp Exploration and a series of video vignettes titled High Stakes of the Great Lakes.

Custom Healthy Meals Made to Order at Onion Garden

Onion Garden Chef Tim Carden is offering wholesome, custom meal prep options that can help with achieving healthy eating goals throughout the new year.

Locally Crafted Kombucha Now Available in Grocery Stores

Mundelein-brewed Karma Kombucha tea is now available in many Chicago area grocery stores.

Shinrin-yoku Forest Therapy Walks at the Resiliency Institute

The Resiliency Institute is hosting a seven-walk Shinrin-yoku Tune Your Senses series led by certified forest therapy guides beginning April 11 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Naperville Riverwalk.

Pet Brief

The Animal Care and Control Program of the Lake County Health Department/Community Health Center has created a lost and found pet service web page at Tinyurl.com/LakeCountyLost.

Healing in America Now Teaching in Chicago

Healing in America (HIA) believes that everyone has the innate ability to heal themselves and others. An introductory class, Your Health Is In Your Hands – Literally, will be held in Wilmette.