This past Saturday was spring cleanup day in the community where I live. I was appointed part of the gardening crew. We have some beautiful flow beds in the common areas. They always make me smile when I pass by them. I am not an expert gardener by any stretch. But when I am out there shovelling, raking and planting, I feel content.
Many yoga people that I know love playing in the dirt – digging their hands into the earth. It makes perfect sense. Yoga and gardening are natural partners. They both remind us that we are connected to something larger. Yoga and gardening are hard work. Yet they are also meditative and relaxing. And both require focus and patience to nurture growth.
Yoga and gardening. There are several parallels between these two lovely practices.
Before you even start to think about the plants, you need to make sure you have a fertile spot for them to grow. This involves choosing an appropriate location and preparing the bed. You need to create a good growing environment starting from the ground. The right combination of soil, compost and peat make a great start to your garden bed.
Likewise in preparing for a yoga practice, you need to make sure your body is ready. You warm up your muscles and get your blood and energy flowing by starting off gently. You nurture your body and give it the chance to open up before moving into deeper postures. Within an individual posture, you need to start with a good foundation. We often build poses from the ground up. Start with your feet and legs making sure that you feel grounded and solid in the posture. “Feel like you are connected to the earth by roots extending from the bottoms of your feet.” An apt description!
Plant and Nurture
When the soil is ready, all filled up with nutrients and lovingly prepared, it is time to plant. Seeds and seedling are coaxed into their new home. You dig a hole of the appropriate depth giving your seeds the space they need to flourish. You tend to their needs making sure your young seedlings get all the water, sun and nutrients they need to grow.
In yoga, once you have created a strong foundation you are ready to settle in. Your base is strong and you are free to be more relaxed and fluid in other parts of the pose. You have the space to breath and let energy flow. You can choose to go deeper into a pose or back out. By doing this you are giving your body what it needs to grow stronger and more flexible. When you focus on your breath you are giving your mind the opportunity to relax and just be. Energy and thoughts move and you let go of what’s no longer useful and make room for and nurture new ideas.
Harvest and Renew
After the work is done and the plants have grown, it’s time to harvest. Pick those yummy cucumbers and fresh herbs. Grab a luscious warm tomato and make a toasted tomato sandwich (my favourite!) If you have a flower garden, you may pick a few flowers but many are left in the ground. You harvest happiness by enjoying their beauty. Prepare your beds for the winter by pulling out annuals, turning the soil and perhaps planting a cover crop to offer protection and nutrients.
With your yoga practice, Savasana is where the harvesting and renewal takes place. You take this time to reap the benefits of your practice. You have put in the work. You have practiced the postures, trained your breath and focused your mind. Savasana is where it all comes together. You integrate the work and it becomes a part of you. You leave feeling a little more energized, resilient and ready for whatever is next.
This May long weekend is the traditional time for planting gardens here where I live. I plan to be outside a lot loving my garden then inside loving myself with some yoga! How about you? Do you like digging in the dirt?
Have a wonderful week and happy planting!
P.S. Thanks to my friend MK for the inspiration to write about yoga and gardening. Check out her awesome blog, Cultivating Habits.
Photo courtesy of Sally