Shawls are like a really juicy restorative yoga posture or a gentle yoga class. Both provide a feeling of support, warmth, and comfort.
Restorative yoga is a style of yoga where the focus is on being in a few poses for a long period of time with the support of many props, such as blocks, blankets, or bolsters, to give your body the ability to relax fully. There is no gripping or tensing of muscles, as the muscles are supported by props. This allows the body to relax and rest in a pose instead of working to maintain a particular shape..
Gentle yoga is a slower paced yoga where you are encouraged to breathe, take your time, and explore a minimalist practice. I enjoy knitting shawls because I don’t have to be too overly worried with the exact gauge or fit, like I do when I am knitting a garment. Knitting shawls can be gentle and restorative as you make a uniquely shaped object, which the ultimate use of will be to keep you warm.
Restorative or gentle yoga can support your knitting by giving your muscles a chance to relax fully. Some shawl patterns call for hundreds or maybe even thousands of stitches. Although, the act of knitting will calm your mind, it may create tightness in your back, neck and shoulders.
As the theme for this month is Unusual Shawls I’ve come up with two unusual ways of doing some traditional yoga poses. Each one has a fun little twist. The cat-cow has wrapped legs and we will do a supported fish pose using a couch as a prop.
Below you will find the directions on how to practice a gentle pose and restorative pose to support you in your shawl knitting endeavors. Both postures help to relieve tension and bring in relaxation. They are nice movements to try after knitting and before going about your day.
Knitting can be relaxing, a soothing way to spend time, and afterwards although your mind is more relaxed your body may feel a little stiff. Bringing in a few yoga poses to your knitting time can benefit your body as well as your mind.
Yoga poses that encourage you to breathe allow the body and mind to connect in a way that brings you into the present moment. The more we can keep our bodies and minds present, the less stress we feel. Not to mention, we will have those beautiful shawls made to keep us warm and showcase our creative abilities!
Benefits: Relieves tension in the hips, low back and creates movement in the spine.
When to skip this posture: If you have knee injury or back injury skip this pose or talk to a doctor before trying it.
Props needed: A towel, blanket or thin pillow. Or something that can pad your knees.
Step by Step
Step 1. Place a towel or pillow on the floor to protect your knees and set yourself up on your hands and knees. The shoulders are under the wrists, and the hips are over the knees.
Step 2. Cross your right leg in front of the left leg, so your knees are stacked. Keep the spine in a neutral position to start.
Step 3. Then inhale and arch your back, letting your abdomen release towards the floor and your chest lift towards the ceiling. Exhale, while rounding your spine and pulling your belly button towards your back, tail bone pointing to the floor.
Step 4. Repeat step 3 for five breaths, switching between the movements with each inhale and exhale.
Step 5. Switch the crossing of your legs so the left knee is in front of the right knee.
Step 6. Repeat steps 3 & 4.
Supported Fish on the Couch (or ottoman)
Props needed: 1 block and 1 pillow or blanket.
How long to practice the pose for: Before getting comfortable set a timer for 5 minutes.
Step by Step
Step 1. Take a block on the lowest height (the height of the block may need to be adjusted depending on how high your couch or ottoman are). Place the block in front of the couch or ottoman.
Step 2. Place the pillow or blanket on the couch.
Step 3. Sit on the block with your back to the furniture. Knees are bent and feet are flat on the floor placed hip distance apart.
Step 4. Take hands by your sides and lean back until your upper back and head are resting onto the pillow behind you.
Step 5. If you have a completed shawl with you, drape it over you like a blanket. It is important to keep the body at a comfortable temperature to allow the muscles to relax. When the muscles are cold they are tighter and loose range of motion. We are trying to create space and openness in the body.
Step 6. Bring your arms over head and bend your elbows so your arms are resting on the couch behind you
Step 7. Breathe steadily in this posture and take your time coming out. You can scoot to one side and press your self up to standing.
ABOUT THE Author: Liza Laird
Liza is a spinner and knitter of wool and a lover of handstands. Liza started knitting at the wee age of 8 and hasn’t stopped since. She received formal yoga training in her early 20s in NYC as a 500 HR Registered Yoga Teacher and an 800 HR Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapist. She taught at studios for nearly a decade in NYC and Boston, including Yoga Works and Harlem Yoga Studio.
Liza leads yoga retreats worldwide in places including Bali, Thailand, Italy, Peru, and locally in Vermont and Texas. She also hosts workshops on yoga and knitting in the eastern United States when she’s not taking care of her husband and daughter, Tom and Isa, or her dog, Cosmo.