Last week Orie suggested that as I have a “Yoga for Gardeners” workshop, I should also do a “Yoga of Housekeeping” workshop. A blog post isn’t a workshop, but here are a few preliminary thoughts on yoga and housekeeping.
From an alignment perspective, I have found that the Anusara principles of alignment make safe everything I do off the mat, as well as on. Overwhelmed by all that needs to be done? Doing heavy lifting? Bending and stooping? Reaching for something way up high?
First, soften (open to grace). Appreciate that you have a home and things to clean. Honor each item in the house. Things have energy, too., and they like to be touched and cleaned. If you have anything that you do not appreciate or does not fit in the house, give it a new life in a new home (freecycledc is a great way to pass things forward).
Use muscular energy, drawing the muscles to the bone, hugging into the mid-line, and drawing energy into the focal point (for most housecleaning activities, this will be the pelvis). Using muscle energy will definitely help to keep you from tweaking a muscle or straining the low back or shoulders. When you are reaching, keep the arm bones integrated by hugging the shoulder blades onto the back and then reach from the waist, though each rib to extend the length of your torso (organic energy).
Especially for bending and lifting, after you bend your knees, hug your shins in (muscular energy), take your inner thighs back and apart (inner spiral) and then tuck your tailbone (outer spiral). If you just bend from the knees but hunch your back, your low back will still be vulnerable.
Switch sides for activities like sweeping, vaccuuming, and scrubbing. Yes, it can be difficult and awkward, but it’s worth it to shift sides. Imagine doing all of your yoga practice only on one side. How much imbalance would you be encouraging?
The first niyama of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras is sauca, which means cleanliness or purity. It is easier to think and live and be hospitable in a clean home.
The first yama is ahimsa, or non-harming. Do your best to use safe, biodegradable cleaning products. Your skin and respiratory system will be grateful. So will the earth. Try to make cleaning your own space and act of honoring your self, your home, and the greater home of the earth.
Fully absorb yourself in the task of cleaning. Make it a meditation. Integrate fully the act of cleaning, the item being cleaned, and you as the cleaner.
Finally, be playful.