[Downward Facing Dog Pose. Creative Commons photo by Lululemon Athletica]
Craft show season is winding down here in the South, now that the weather is getting warmer. Those long days tending your booth take a toll on your whole body, for sure! Between hauling a heavy tent, tables, display, and merch and the 10+ hour days, your muscles take a beating. Rather than take over-the-counter medications, why not relieve your muscles a little more naturally with some yoga poses targeting the body parts that take the most abuse at a craft show?
If you have a lull at the show during the day, you might try this quick five-minute chair yoga routine around the middle of the day. A little stretching throughout the day can make a big difference on how you feel at the end of it! You can also do your body a big favor by trying not to stay in the same position all day. If you tend to sit, make sure you get up once every hour or so and walk a little bit, even if it’s just inside of your tent. If you’re more of a stander, have a seat or a squat just to give your knees and back a little break.
Whether you’re able to take some preventative measures or not, you’ll probably have stiff legs, back, and arms to deal with in the evening or next morning. Here are some poses to help you out!
Legs and Feet
Whether your tend to stand at your booth or sit in a chair behind your table, your poor legs and feet get pretty stiff by the end of the day. A great way to soothe your legs, kick off your routine, and clear your mind all in one pose is the legs up the wall pose. For detailed instructions, Yoga Journal has you covered. Basically, though, you lay on your back with a pillow or towel supporting your lower back and your legs….up the wall! The pose gently stretches your legs and releases tension in your back and your feet. You can hold the pose for just a few breaths or up to 15 minutes, so just listen to your body and come out when you’re ready.
Once you’re all mellow from legs up the wall, try a couple of additional stretches. Here’s a quick series of leg stretches, starting with the Cobbler’s Pose and transitioning into some seated forward bends. Sit up straight with the soles of your feet together, and let your knees fall apart. Sit up straight for about ten breaths. You should feel a nice release in your hips. Next, stick your right leg out in front of you. Inhale, and as you exhale, gently bend forward over your right leg with a straight back. Grab your leg wherever you can reach, and take five to ten breaths. Repeat with the left leg. To complete this series, sit up straight with both legs in front of you, and gently bend forward with a straight back. This time, release your neck and just hang out and let gravity do its thing.
My very favorite stretch for your back is downward facing dog. Check out this great video and set of instructions from ABC-of-Yoga.com! Not only does this stretch your your back, it’s great for your legs and arms! You can hold the pose for ten breaths or for up to three minutes. Just listen to your body, and come out when you’re ready.
Now, come onto your hands and knees, making sure your hands are right under your shoulders and your knees right under your hips. You’re ready to do Cat and Cow Pose! You’re actually going to cycle between two poses that balance each other out. Start with your back neutral. Then, on your next inhale, arch your spine towards the floor, and tilt your head and sit bones upward. You’ll feel a nice stretch along the front of your body. As you exhale, arch your back in the opposite direction, curl your chin toward your chest and your sit bones toward the floor. Feel that nice, gentle stretch along your spine! Repeat this for ten sets of inhales and exhales.
Load in and load out do a number on your arms! You can release some of that tension with a few simple poses. We’ll start with the a couple of more strenuous positions and end with something nice and gentle. Warrior I is a great arm stretch. It’s a little bit of a lower body workout, too, but if you focus on that good stretch happening in your chest and biceps it really takes the edge off of all that squatting you’re doing. Yoga Journal has a great Warrior I description right here!
Upward Facing Dog is not only a wonderful stretch for your arms and wrists, it’s a nice counter pose to the Downward Facing Dog you did earlier. Active.com has a great description of how to execute this pose, as well as some safety precautions. You want to take care and be kind to your wrists in this pose.
Salutation Seal is not just great for your arms, it’s calming to the mind and a perfect way to wrap up your practice. You can either stand or sit on the floor with your legs criss-crossed, and you can even sit up against a wall if your back is bothering you. Whatever you decide to do, sit up straight as you inhale, and as you exhale, tilt your chin slightly and bring your palms into prayer position. Once you’re settled into the pose, breathe in and out through your nose for about five minutes. Try to keep your mind clear, feeling the difference a handful of poses made in your body.