Out in the garden


Gardens keep on growing

This is the time of year to relax in your garden; it’s really far too hot to be working in it!

Nonetheless, there are still jobs to be done, even if you’re not going to dig over a whole border. Weeding, dead-heading, pruning, mowing, and sweeping will wait only so long.

Take a look at yourself. Are you in good shape? You may be different from last time you worked in the garden. Have you got the equipment you need and is it all in working order?

Experiment with movement

Remember how your body functions. We aren’t designed to bend at the waist when making an effort, but we have three leg joints to lower us in height: hips, knees, and ankles. Be sure to use them when sweeping, digging, mowing, and watering. Send your head away from your hips to maintain efficient alignment and keep you in balance.

Try using both hands when possible. This spreads the load and presents an interesting challenge. It can be good to change your habits!

Getting down to the floor

If you need to get down on the floor, say for weeding, you can squat, kneel on both knees, or go down on one knee, hinging forward from the hips.  If you’re right-handed, then it’s easy to have your left leg bent in front for support while you use your right hand. Try reversing this position for an easy job. It’ll feel strange at first but you may get used to it quicker than you expect.

Lengthen up

If you need to reach up, avoid crunching your head on your neck as you look upwards. Take a step back and bend the rear knee so you have a good base from which to work. Think of your head as balancing on an axle running between your ears and allow your rising nose to tip your head a little way back. Allow the back of your neck to be long and spacious. (To get an idea of what I mean, you really need to have an Alexander lesson. A one-hour taster with me is only £20 …)

Be careful not to raise your shoulders along with your arms. Think of your arm as beginning at your breastbone and release your neck and shoulders. If your neck is tight, it’s harder to lift your arms!

Remember to have a lie-down

Don’t be an ‘end-gainer’! If something begins to hurt then it is time for a lie-down. Take a rug outside and spend a few minutes in Active Rest. You’ll get more done if you take frequent breaks rather than pushing yourself too hard.

Active Rest in the garden is gorgeous. Enjoy the soft breeze on your skin, the rustling of leaves, the warmth of the sun, the scent of flowers, the hum of insects, and the tweeting of the birds. (Oh yes, and the sound of planes over-head as I have just realised.) In England you don’t get many opportunities like this – don’t miss out!