The Yoga of Gardening

I step out into my little, urban backyard. Barefoot, the grass hasn’t been mowed this week and fills the space between my toes. Like hyper sparrows, my kids dart back and forth across our lawn, narrowly avoiding collision with each other. The sun is hot on the tops of my shoulders, and as I approach my little vegetable garden, I smell the crisp, green, sweetness of tomatoes.

This is one of my favorite parts of summer. The vibrant energy of life circling around me, bursting from the soil, ready to nourish much more than just my body.

I haven’t had time to make it our here in a few days, and already the weeds are taking over. Creeping morning glories have a stranglehold on the brittle, ferny bodies of my asparagus. Dandelions shine unapologetically up at me. Gloveless, I bend my knees to the edge of the garden and begin my work. I have to especially careful around the asparagus. On more than one occasion, I have hurriedly tried to pluck the weeds from the base of these delicate vegetables, only to snap it in half. I run my hands across the dirt, grab weeds by their base and uproot them. One stubborn plant after another, I clear the ground around my zucchini, only to see that it is slowly loosing its battle with a squash borer moth. I might as well, pick the not-quite-big-enough zucchinis and let the poor plant succumb to the hungry mouths of infant moths.

When I am done, I set back on my heals and pick dirt from beneath my fingernails, admiring the openness between my basil and kale, the new mint that is springing to life, the almost ripe tomatoes. I know in a few days time this work will have to all be done over again. But for now it is good. There is space, and light, and the fruits of my labor can grow.

The entire time I am in my garden, I am fully present. I have to be aware of everything, where I place my hand to not get pricked by the tenacious sow thistle that just won’t go away, keep an ear out for the gleeful sounds of my kids behind me. When I am done my body is hot, tired and satisfied. Gardening is very much like my yoga practice. It is mindful, careful, fully of focus, a meditation in motion (and dirt.)

Or perhaps my practice is gardening of my soul. Barefoot, I plant my feet onto my sticky yoga mat. I can feel the world, my thoughts buzzing around me, but I focus inward. I don’t get to my mat often enough, and can feel the patches to tension, and softening strength that grows while I am away. But through each careful vinyasa and asana, I weed out the garden of my body. My practice is not perfect. If I am not careful, a pose can crumble. So I have to move with awareness and focus. At the end my body is hot, tired and satisfied. I sit back and admire the work I have done, knowing full well it will need to be done again, and again. But in yoga, like gardening, we reap what we sow. And the fruits of our labor are sweet and beautiful.


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