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.
Since I’m not a soapmaker myself, I hit up my pal Tracy Perkins of Strawberry Hedgehog for tips on soapmaking aches and pains. She said that what gets her after hours of making soap is carpal tunnel pain, sore feet, and an achy lower back. Never fear! Here are some poses to help balance that out.
With all of these poses, the idea is not to push yourself to the point of pain. You just want to gently stretch and strengthen your muscles. If something hurts, back off a bit until you get to a comfortable place. You’ll get much better results if you listen to your body.
Carpal Tunnel Pain
Start out sitting cross-legged. Sit up as straight as you can with your eyes closed. Bring your hands together in prayer position. Stay here in salutation seal, focusing on your breath, for up to five full minutes.
Now stick your legs out in front of you, and place your palms on the floor slightly behind you with your arms rotated so your fingers point toward your toes. Push up with your hands, lifting your butt off of the floor. You want your back and legs totally straight, and you can relax your head back. Breathe in reverse plank for 10 breaths. When you come down, take a moment to gently rotate your wrists and let your breathing return to normal.
Come onto your knees, resting your bottom on your heels for lion pose. This pose might feel a little silly at first, but I promise you’ll be glad you stuck with it! Press the palms of your hands onto your knees and spread your fingers wide. Breathe in deeply through your nose, then exhale through your mouth. Here is the slightly silly part: as you exhale, open your eyes and mouth wide, stretch your tongue toward your chin, and make a sort of “haaaa” sound as you breathe out. Repeat this three to five times.
Relief for an Achy Back
Come to standing, and spread your feet wide. Turn your right foot out and your left foot in just slightly. Then, bend the right knee until your thigh is parallel to the floor. You may need to widen your stance to do this – you don’t want your knee to go past your ankle. Lift up your arms so they’re parallel to the floor, palms facing the floor and turn your head so you’re gazing past your right hand. Stretch your arms away from each other and focus on keeping your back straight and your shoulders pulled down. Hold Warrior II for about 10 breaths, then switch your foot position, bend your left knee, and repeat on the other side.
Keeping your arms and feet where they are, straighten your left leg. Stretch your body to the left, then tilt your torso to the left. The goal is to touch your left hand to the floor just behind your left heel. If you can’t stretch that far, don’t push. Just hang out, let gravity do its thing, and breathe. Reach your right arm up, and gaze at your right hand. Stay in triangle pose for around 15 breaths, then repeat on the opposite side.
Come back to sitting on your knees, then shift slightly, so your bottom is on the floor just to the left of your feet. Place your left hand on your right knee, and as you inhale, straighten your back and twist to the right by pressing with your right hand. Put your left hand on the floor behind you, turn your head to the right, and breathe in this spinal twist for about 30 seconds. Shift to the other side, and repeat this twist to the left.
Soothing Sore Feet
This next pose not only stretches out tired tootsies, it provides another good twist for your spine and stretches out your legs and the sides of your body. Start out seated with your feet together, heels and toes touching. Now, straighten your right leg out to your side. Reach your arms to the ceiling as you inhale, and as you exhale, stretch to the right. You’re aiming here to have your right elbow on the floor, grasping your leg wherever you can (thigh, knee, calf, ankle, or foot). Reach your left arm across, aiming for your foot. If you can’t reach, that’s totally alright. Now, very gently flex your right foot, so your right toes are pointing toward the ceiling. Your right heel might even come up off of the floor slightly. Focus on your breath, and hold until you feel the tension release a bit in your right foot. Repeat this pose on the other side.
Now, grab yourself a pillow for the final posture. Place the pillow up against a wall. Have a seat, then swing your legs up into the air, so that your lower back is on the pillow and your legs are going straight up the wall. Relax your arms out to your sides. Close your eyes and enjoy the restorative effects of Viparita Karani for as long as you like – up to five full minutes.
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 a4gpa