Wednesday, 10 January 2007

Yoga and post-sugical recovery

I recently read a review a book called Gardener's Yoga, subtitled Bend and Stretch, Dig and Grow it's by Seattle yoga instructor and gardener Veronica D'Orazio and espouses the virtues of yoga to gardeners complaining of aches and pains who have, up till now, relied on the relaxing properties of a Radox bath. The review was by the type of gardener I would call a trendy gardener. You know the sort, undoubtedly an excellent horticulturalist; but more likely to be found sipping Chardonnay among the prize-winners at Chelsea Flower Show than messing with his spuds down the local allotment.

Trying to reconcile the suggestions in this, it has to be said, lovely looking book with the reality of gardening here in the cold damp north-west of the UK, I had amusing visions of flat-capped men warming up for a session of double-digging with the bridge pose, or more correctly: Setu Bandha Sarvangasana (Illustrated from the book).
I also wondered whether there was any benefit to be had in yoga for my own post-surgical recovery, in fact was there a market for a similar book for recovering patients in general.
Already I have established that there are tasks to be done in the home of the recovering patient that would benefit from the additional extension of muscles and sinews that yoga gives. Here are some of the tasks that I might feature in the book:

  • Bathing with a leg wrapped in a bright yellow hospital hazardous-waste bag teetering on the side of a bath
  • Climbing the stairs on your bottom, bad leg extended in front, when feeling, after a glass of wine or two, less confident on crutches
  • Maintaining your balance whilst competing with the dog to answer the door
  • One-legged onion chopping
  • Emptying the dishwasher on one leg; just how do you hold the plates and your crutches at the same time?

Perhaps there is something in the spiritual aspect of yoga too, all that enlivening of the chi could perhaps benefit recovering patients and also encourage vegetables to grow. Maybe the local tai chi class - I believe that tai chi is good for the chi too- could carry out fresh-air sessions down the allotment to encourage the plants, whilst allowing the gardeners to concentrate on the more practical aspects of crop production.

I have to say, I'm all in favour of allotment gardening, albeit at the moment by other people; the parsnips we are getting from my father in law's allotment are fantastic. I think, though, that our vegetables have more to gain from Carol Klein's Grow Your Own Veg on BBC 2 on Friday evening than from mystical practices; although Prince Charles is a self confessed plant-whisperer - I wonder now that he has a large organic farm, whether he has to employ a team of people to talk to the crops? Carol Klein's programme is not only stuffed with down to earth gardening know-how, but is attractive to watch and has excellent music too. Yes, you can't beat watching other people doing back breaking work against the beautiful back drop of the Derbyshire countryside.

I do see the sense in stretching and warming up certain muscle groups before strenuous gardening, but yoga? it doesn't seem to fit here among the mud and compost. If you do want more information about the yoga of Veronica D'Orazio click here to go to the website of the Seattle centre at which she teaches. There you can view a video of the Samadhi Yogini Dance Group (don't ask because I didn't bother; but if you do, let me know what you think, I can always go back for a look!).

On the other hand if after bending and stretching a bit in your old clothes and cloth cap you fancy some vegetable gardening click here to visit the BBC pages that go with Carol Klein's show.

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