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.
This week’s set of poses is for the seamstresses. These are postures aimed at stretching and strengthening those sore arms, legs and feet, and upper back and neck that take a beating after hours over the sewing machine, the cutting table, and the ironing board.
Working Your Arms
Start out standing, with your feet shoulder width apart and your hands by your sides. Take a few moments to breathe here in mountain pose. Let any tension go, and on your next inhale, sweep your arms overhead and let your hands meet in prayer position above your head. Keep your arms as straight as you can and stretch toward the sky, lengthening your arms. Hold this posture for a moment, until you release a bit of the tension from all that ironing.
Come down into a crouching position for garland pose. Keep your back as straight as you can and bring your hands into prayer in front of your chest. Hold and breathe. You’ll feel a nice stretch in your wrists and your forearms.
Now, come to a seated position with your legs crossed. Sit up straight and extend your arms behind you. As you inhale, bring your palms together behind you, turning your fingers in toward your back and upward. The idea is to have your hands in prayer behind your back (like in the picture at the top of this post). Hold this for as long as you like. You’ll feel a stretch in your arms from shoulders to fingertips.
Legs and Feet
Standing at that ironing board and cutting table definitely takes its toll. After all that time on your feet, give yourself a break with some therapeutic poses. Start by laying on your back. Flex your right foot, and raise your right leg. Grab on to your leg behind the knee or calf. If you’re really flexible, you can even grab your foot. Hold for about 10 breaths, then switch feet.
Come to a seated position and place your feet, soles together, as close to your body as you can. Sit up as straight as you can, and relax. Stay in bound angle pose for as long as you like, up to five minutes.
To further counter all of that standing, move onto your back again, and give the supported shoulder stand a try. Be very careful in this pose. Do not turn your head in either direction, and only go as far as you feel comfortable. Inversions can feel a little tricky at first, but they’re a great way to give your feet a break. A caution with this pose: it’s not a great idea to practice inversions when you’re on your period. Just relax in child’s pose and save the upside-down action for next week.
Upper Back and Neck
There are certain poses in yoga that have what are called counter poses. A counter pose helps balance out the work you did in one posture with another, complementary one. The counter pose for the shoulder stand you just completed is fish pose. Not only is it a great follow-up to the shoulder stand, it’s a great stretch for your neck and helps your upper back recover from leaning over your sewing machine.
Come onto your knees now for camel pose. With your hands on your hips to support your low back, slowly lean backwards. If you feel like you’ve reached your edge, you can hold it here. If not, grab onto your left heel with your left hand and right heel with your right hand. Tilt your head back, looking up toward the ceiling, and breathe. Hold for 10 breaths, coming out of the pose on a deep inhale.
Next, come onto your back again for a gentle reclined twist. This is one of my favorite poses for finishing up a practice. Bring your right foot onto your left knee. Extend your right arm out to the side, and use your left hand to very, very gently pull your right knee toward the floor to the left. Turn your head to gaze toward your right hand. Hold this for as long as you like, until you feel a release in your neck and back. Switch legs and repeat on the other side.
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.
Image Credit: Creative Commons photo by mandydale