Why Yoga?


So... you teach yoga to people while they are knitting?

Nope.

Um, does that mean you teach people to knit while they are doing yoga?

Again, no.

I teach yoga to knitters who have realized that, to take care of their bodies so that they can keep knitting in the future, they need to take a break, pause, stretch, and perhaps even breathe intentionally. Or maybe they don't yet realize that this is a good plan for a long knitting (or crocheting, or crafting, or computing - you get the idea!) career, but through resources like Yoga for Knotted Knitters, they will learn that it is.

But what I really want to share in this first blog post is that to me it seems that knitting and yoga are related arts. Like siblings or cousins, they have so much in common! We can all agree that both knitting and yoga have been around for hundreds, if not thousands, of years. Check out this fun and well written blog post from Sheep & Stitch, which comments on knitting from ancient Egypt. And then there are the Yoga Sutras - philosophical guidelines - of Patanjali, which guide many yoga traditions today. The Yoga Sutras have been around for a couple thousand years and are still studied in yoga teacher trainings like the ones I attended. Here is a concise  introduction to the Yoga Sutras. Both yoga and knitting have managed to surf the ebb and flow of popularity for centuries. That's an impressive quality to share!

Perhaps one reason that knitting and yoga have remained in vogue is that they share a reputation as de-stressors. The rhythmic and repetitive nature of knitting is similar to the rhythm and repetition of postures that we practice in Viniyoga, the type of yoga I teach. The consistent click of the needles that so many find soothing while knitting is echoed in the sounds of the inhales and exhales that we match to our movements in Viniyoga. Each art allows us to settle and relax, guiding our physiological systems from the Stress Response to the Relaxation Response. Each is nurturing to our very spirits.

Another similarity is that yoga and knitting each promote mindfulness. Admittedly, the term mindfulness has come so strongly to the forefront of pop culture today that it has in some circles reached a point of backlash.  Don't let that trick you into thinking it's just a fad. No matter where you have learned to be mindful, whether it's making your way through your first brioche pattern, as I did earlier this year, or on a meditation cushion, there are few skills that will help you navigate your life as well or as thoughtfully as this attention to what is happening in the present moment.

The mindfulness that yoga supports is extraordinarily helpful for knitters. Yoga invites us to be in our bodies, fully present and accepting. Over time, we learn to tune in to to our bodies in the quiet before a yoga session begins or when it ends. We become more aware of what works positively in our bodies in a given moment - this posture, that stretch, that adaptation - and what is not working well. Knitting, for all the pleasure and joy it brings us, often tempts us to be in our heads: we just want to finish this row, this section, this gift for someone we love. We ignore the pain in our hands or the stiffness in our bodies or the hours (and hours!) that go by as we sit and knit. We often knit past the point of safety and into a danger zone that invites strain and injury. This is the aspect of a knitter's life that most needs yoga.

Yoga and knitting can be separate practices, or they can intertwine and support each other, almost as if they have been spun together like yarn. Weaving knitting and yoga together brings longevity to our knitting futures. If we create practices that invite

 

 

 

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