Gentle yoga can prepare you for the gardening season ahead
It was nerve wracking walking into the yoga studio at LPS Strength and Meditation in Uniontown with Elizabeth Cellurale from Cellurale Garden Center.
Neither one of us knew much about yoga, but Cellurale agreed to participate with me in a demonstration of gentle yoga for gardeners.
"I'm a newbie," she said, but she was game to give it a try. In my case, pushing 60 with a hairline going north and waistline going south, I wasn't sure how I would be able to keep up.
We were instantly put at ease by Laura Patterson-Santore, who founded and owns the business which offers yoga, massage, acupuncture, holistic life coaching and counseling.
Patterson-Santore is also a highly respected landscape designer for her other company, Exquisite Garden Design. She knows what it's like to spend days in the garden digging and planting and the toll it can take on the body.
Patterson-Santore had designed a workout for gardeners, and we found out quickly how much fun and how good we felt during and after the yoga session.
"Just like our plants, many of us are breaking out of a winter hibernation," she said. "It's really important to get the body moving, and a lot of our health begins in our feet and our spine."
Stretching and building a little strength and balance will help us navigate the terrain of the garden, , she says.
We started the workout actually sitting in a chair learning to breath and stretching our necks by moving our heads up and down, then back and forth.
"Take a moment and realize, you've just done yoga," Patterson-Santore said laughing. "It's really nothing to be afraid of."
From then on, we were sold, following along through the breathing and stretching exercises feeling better and better as the workout went on. The intimidation was replaced with comfort as she taught us more moves. We twisted in the chair to stretch out the lower back, and reached and looked up to continue loosening the neck and shoulders.
"The most important thing we have to consider is injury prevention," Patterson-Santore said. "It can be difficult as we age to get down on our knees. Yoga and a regular routine of strength and fitness training really help."
As the 20-minute workout continued, we not only felt physically looser, but there was a mental calmness that washed over us.
"It feels good," Cellurale said. "It's a good stretch."
With eyes closed, the soft voice of Patterson-Santore momentarily hypnotized me, lost in my thoughts while completing the exercises.
"We all move too fast," Patterson-Santore said. "Yoga really helps us slow down. Creating a garden is a meditation in and of itself."
Even though she got us up on our feet to continue our yoga, these exercises could be done by just about anyone. We leaned forward to touch our toes and then did a backbend to help flexibility.
Patterson-Santore gets as much as she gives while instructing.
"Teaching people these different techniques helps my understanding of how yoga works and how my own body works," she said. "It's really a joy. I teach a lot of people with pain and injury, seeing people overcome that and not be defined by what they perceive as their limitations. Just like a garden, we grow and we change."
When we finished with high fives, Cellurale summed up the experience. "I thought it was wonderful," she said smiling. I couldn't agree more.
Doug Oster is editor of Everybody Gardens, a website operated by 535Media, LLC. Reach him at 412-965-3278 or firstname.lastname@example.org. See other stories, videos, blogs, tips and more at everybodygardens.com.