Craft show season is getting close, and that means all of you green crafty biz owners are probably working overtime to get merch ready for the upcoming fall shows! Any sort of repetitive action is tough on your body, and crafting is no different. Rather than pop an over the counter pain medication, why not take some time to relax and stretch the soreness away with some yoga poses targeted at the places that take the most abuse?
As with any new exercise, please be cautious and consult your doctor before trying anything too terribly strenuous.
To kick things off, let’s take a look at common aches and pain that jewelers experience. That’s right, jewelry-making friends! I feel your pain. You know what I mean: that achy lower back, sore neck, and stiff hands after a marathon crafting session. Here are some poses just for you.
Your Aching Back
All of that hunching over does a number on your back. Some gentle stretching is just what you need! To get started, lay on your back and draw one knee into your chest, leaving the other leg flat on the floor. Grab your knee with both hands and ever-so-gently pull the knee closer to your body. Make sure to keep your head on the floor – if you need to let your knee come up a bit to do this, that’s totally fine. Hold until you feel your back muscles release a bit, then repeat with the opposite leg. Repeat this one final time drawing both knees in.
Now that’ you’re a little warmed up, try a simple spinal twist. Sit on your knees and move your bottom to the right, so your feet are to the left of your butt. Inhale, and when you exhale, twist your upper body to the right. Place your left hand on your knees and your right hand behind you. Hold for about 30 seconds, then repeat on the opposite side.
OK, let’s do just one more pose for that back of yours: the tree stand. This is a balancing posture that not only will help your back but improve concentration! Stand up straight with your arms by your sides. Inhale, and grab hold of one knee. When you feel comfortable there, carefully place your foot on the inside of your thigh. To complete the posture, raise your arms above your head and streeetch up towards the sky. Feel the muscles in your back lengthening! To maintain your balance, find a spot a short distance in front of you to focus on. Hold this for as long as you can, up to a full minute. Repeat on the other side.
Stretch That Neck
To limber up your neck, start with an easy stretch. Sit cross-legged on the floor, and gently tilt your head to the left. If this doesn’t feel like enough of a stretch, put your right hand on the floor as far out to the right as you can. Hold and breathe. Repeat this posture to the right. To finish this stretch, tilt your head forward, aiming your chin toward your chest. If you want to deepen this stretch, place your hands on the back of your head. No need to pull – gravity will do all of the work for you. Relax and breathe.
This next pose is great for your neck, back, and your belly. Come on to your hands and knees for a little cat and cow pose. You’ll want your hands in line with your shoulders and your knees lined up with your hips. Inhale, and as you exhale, arch your back like a cat, rounding your spine and curling your head towards the floor. Hold for a beat, and on your exhale, reverse the posture, pulling your belly toward the floor, looking up, and tilting your pelvis toward the ceiling. Repeat the cat and cow as many times are you like!
Once you’re all cat and cowed up, sit back on your heels and put your forehead to the floor with a flat back. Bring your hands alongside your feet and relax in child’s pose for as long as you want.
We’ll start off again with an easy pose to get you going: salutation seal. Sit on the floor cross-legged with a straight back, and bring your hands into prayer position. As you breathe in this position, focus on your hands. Is one “dominating” the other? Try to maintain a balance in pressure between your hands as you relax in this posture.
This next posture is a slight variation on warrior II. Get into the pose just as the Yoga Journal page describes. Now, turn your hands so that instead of facing the floor, they are facing outward (in the same direction as your chest). Spread the fingers as wide as you can, and even tilt your hands back slightly for an extra stretch in your palms and wrists. Be careful not to push too hard: your hands are delicate, and you want to protect them! Repeat this posture on the other side.
For the last pose before final relaxation, begin in a seated position with your legs out in front of you. Place your hands beside your butt with your fingers pointing toward your toes. Inhale, and as you exhale, raise your bottom off the floor and let your head tilt back slightly, coming into upward plank. Hold this for 10 breaths, if you can, focusing on not keeping your back as straight as you can. When you come out of this pose, you may want to gently rotate your wrists to release any tension.
No yoga practice is complete without a final relaxation. Lay on your back for a few moments with your eyes closed. Notice how your body feels different after your practice, notice your breath. Try to carry this feeling with you even after your practice is over.
Making Jewelry. Creative Commons photo by kitpfish