[Creative Commons photo by Eric Ward]
We’re right smack in the middle of Fall festival season, and I’ve been sewing up a storm! All that time hunched over the cutting table and sewing machine is definitely taking its toll on my body, and I’m sure I’m not the only crafter that suffers aches and pains after a crafting marathon. Rather than pop a couple of ibuprofen this year, I’m trying to relieve my muscles a little more naturally with yoga poses that target parts of my body that take the most abuse during this time of year.
No matter what your craft, it most likely involves some sort of repetitive motion from your hands, which stresses your arms and wrists. By stretching and strengthening these areas, you can relieve soreness and maybe even build your crafty endurance! As with any new exercise, be cautious and consult your doctor before trying anything too terribly strenuous. If you suffer from carpal tunnel, please run these poses by a doctor before you dive in, as some of them do put pressure on your wrists.
The Plank pose strengthens your arms, wrists, back, and tummy. It’s basically the top of a pushup. You can get into the pose in a couple of different ways. Starting on your hands and knees, straighten your legs. Keep your shoulders right above your wrists and hold for 8-10 breaths.
The other option is to start out in Downward Facing Dog. If you choose this option, just lower your torso until it’s parallel with the floor. Keep your legs strong, hold, and breathe.
Stretch those wrists! Start in a seated position with your legs out in front of you. Put your hands on the floor a few inches behind your hips with your fingers facing toward your toes and inhale. As you exhale, press with your hands and point your toes to lift your bottom off of the floor. Let your head hang backwards, but be gentle with the back of your neck here. The goal is to have a flat back and straight legs, but don’t push too hard at first. You’ll get there with practice! Hold for 10 breaths or up to 30 seconds.
OK, I’ll admit it. Lion Pose is a little bit silly, and that’s part of what I love about it! In addition to stretching your fingers and wrists, it’s great for your face and jaw. Sit on your knees or cross-legged with your hands on your knees and stretch your fingers out, like a cat extending its claws. Take a deep breath through your nose and, as you exhale audibly, stretch your tongue out of your mouth, move your hands to the floor in front of you, and widen your eyes. Repeat two or three times, taking breaks to giggle as needed.
Warrior II pose (pictured above) is great for your whole body, beyond its benefits for your arms and wrists. It builds muscle and flexibility in your legs and back, as well! Stand with your feet wider than hip-distance apart, and turn your right foot out so that it’s perpendicular to your left. Spread your arms parallel to the floor, and bend the right knee to a 90 degree angle. Be careful not to let your knee go past your toes – you can widen your stance, if you need, to keep your knee in line with your ankle. Now gaze to the right past your hand. Hold the pose and breathe for 30 seconds up to a full minute. Repeat the pose on the opposite side.