Breathe in, knit two, breathe out, purl two. Mindful knitting and yoga practice make actually better bedfellows than you might think.
Knitting is an etymological evolution of knotting. When knitting, we join strands of thread and thus create a harmonious, durable fabric. The root of the term Yoga is derived from the ancient Sanskrit term ‘yuj” and expresses the same idea. Yoga simply means to ‘unite’ or ‘yoke’. It speaks of the unity of breath and body, of merging the individual conscience with the universal spirit. Additionally, Yoga and knitting offer proven health benefits for body and mind, such as lowering blood pressure and releasing a flow of dopamine as well as serotonin in our brains.
So wouldn’t it be great to combine these two highly meditative crafts and create your very own, holistic, yarn Yoga routine? And so yarn Yoga is born, yay! Have a look at our easy yarn Yoga exercises below. They are aimed at improving your body consciousness and really get those zen spheres in your brain to open up.
First, find a calm space with sufficient light and a mat or cushion to sit in a comfortable position. Wear loose clothes so that you feel free and not held back. Together with your breathing, a calm, comfortable environment will now aid you to lighten up the channels of your body and let the energy flow freely.
Take your Mindful knitting needles and look for an easy pattern or technique that requires little attention. Whether you choose straight, circular or double pointed needles, each of our needle types comes with an inspiring word. Focus on this mantra and explore the sensations and thoughts it produces in your mind.
Start to knit while focusing on your breaths and counting them. Count one for each inhale and exhale together until you reach ten. Start again, if you become distracted. Meanwhile, direct your attention to the sensation in your chest and body. Try to inhale deeply into your belly, and exhale, as if your belly was a pair of bellows. Think perhaps about the rising and falling of your belly button, or wherever you may feel your breath. Pay particular attention to the moment when your breath changes from inhalation to exhalation.
Begin seated, maintaining a tall spine and your legs extended straight out in front of you. Now stretch your legs as wide as is still comfortable, and anchor your buttocks into the cushion or mat. The Staff Pose allows the spine to find its natural curve. Concentrate on the flow of breath in your body, particularly in your back and shoulders. Bring your knitting in front of your chest, while aligning and relaxing your shoulders. Inhale and exhale deeply.
Now, change your position to an easy Hip Opener Pose, taking a cross-legged position. Your comfort will be considerably improved if your knees are below your hips. Anchor your buttocks firmly into your cushion or your mat. You can tuck each foot under the opposite leg. Or, you can widen your knees and take one foot close to your groin and the other foot right in front of it, so your heels are in line. If your knees are still above your hips, or if you feel pain, take another blanket or a firm cushion under your seat to raise your hips.
Focus on your knitting rhythm and enjoy the sound your Mindful Stainless steel Knitting needles produce. Concentrating on the flow of the yarn and the sound of the needles will calm your inner monkey mind, reduce your heart beat and switch on a calmer sphere in your brain. Repeat the above breathing exercise, counting ten deep inhales and ten exhales, then change the crossing of your legs, and repeat the breathing.
This posture serves as an antidote to normal sitting. It will open your hips further, and flex your legs. Sit upright, and hook one leg in front of you by crossing it and bringing your ankle in line with your hip. Flex your foot, if possible, and try to bring your knee as close to the floor as you can without feeling pain. Now, bend the other leg out slightly next to you, trying to adopt a ‘mermaid’ kind of pose by stretching your leg backwards.
Maintain your spine erect and your shoulders down. Bend your arms outwards and hold your knitwork at the height of your chest. Concentrate on the rhythmic sound your needles produce. Hold the pose for five deep breaths, making sure you exhale one or two seconds longer than you inhale, then switch sides.
Bring your mat or cushion close to the wall or a door and lie back. At the same time put your feet up against the wall until your legs and your torso form a 90 degree angle. Keep the feet flexed and active making sure that the inner legs don’t bend inwards. Stretch your arms, yet keep them slightly bent outwards, as if to embrace someone. Hold your knitwork within your visual field in front of you as you maintain the length in your spine. Always keep your shoulders relaxed and your chest slightly lifted. Inhale and exhale, holding the pose for ten breaths.
For thousands of years, yoga scholars have been chanting the Om at the beginning and end of each yoga session and felt the vibrations this ancient chant has sent to their solar plexus and into the chest. The rhythmic pronunciation and vibrations the chant provokes have a calming effect on the body and the nervous system, similar to the effects of meditation.
To be able to feel the sensations in your body, too, an upright, yet comfortable seating position is recommended. Relax your shoulders, neck and chin, by shaking your head slightly with an open mouth. Cross your legs as if to adopt a lotus pose.
Om has four syllables. It is actually pronounced A-U-M, beginning in a round and wide A which will open your chest. The second syllable, U, moves the vibrations up into the throat, and the third sound, the M, will let it break through your upper chakras. The final syllable is the deep, universal silence, a peaceful sensation you feel as the overall vibration rises through your body and into the Universe. Chant the OM three times, after inhaling deeply. Imagine that, while exhaling and pronouncing each of the syllables, you are letting go of all the noise and stress manifested in your body.
Over the last few decades, the speed of life has accelerated at unprecedented levels. Feelings of overwhelm and anxiety are only some of the symptoms many people experience with the increasing pressure on careers, relationships or finances.
Whether twisting and straightening your body or chanting the OM, a mindful yoga and knitting practice really can go hand in hand. They help us calm our overstimulated minds and reconnect with our higher selves.
Do you happen to have a favorite, mindful knitting yoga posture? Which one is it?
If you wish to explore our range of mindful knitting needle sets further, this blog post might provide some helpful, additional information.