Ahhhh … fresh powder. A few days ago, it took me about 25 minutes to dig my car out of the snow and shovel my walks and driveway, and by the end of it, my lower back was whining a bit. Fortunately, I was headed to yoga class, which helped me get ahead of the impending backache.
Having grown up in the Midwest with its sopping, wet cement-like snow, I feel lucky to be shoveling Utah’s famous powder. Still, when the accumulation is high enough, the combination of forward bending, lifting and twisting can make for a cranky back.
Yoga for Shoveling Snow
Yoga asana practice is the perfect remedy. A good, well-rounded practice is always best, but sprinkling a few specific poses into your practice can be helpful. Also, if you only have time for a short practice, here are my favorite yoga poses for shoveling snow, or for alleviating the back stress that often follows:
- Trikonasana (Triangle Pose): Like most standing poses, Trikonasana (Triangle Pose) is about grounding and expansion. The legs ground and support the torso, which in Trikonasana, is in a neutral position even as it extends to the side. In Trikonasana, your back is completely relaxed, lengthened and receptive to the energy coursing through your legs. The expanded arms, legs and spine counteract the forward bending motion of shoveling. Standing poses in general are great yoga poses for shoveling snow.
- Salamba Setu Bandha Sarvangasana (Supported Bridge Pose): Supported or standing alone, Setu Bandha Sarvangasana is another great pose for counteracting the effects of bending forward in snow shoveling. The supported version, which can be practiced with bolsters, blankets or a block, has the added benefit of cooling your nervous system after the heat you’ve no doubt generated while shoveling snow. The stand-alone version (without a block, blankets or bolster) strengthens your back while expanding your chest.
- Jathara Parivartanasana (Revolved Belly Pose): Jathara Parivartanasana (Revolved Belly Pose) is a gentle, supine twist that stretches your spinal muscles one side at a time. In the pose, your arms and chest widen as gravity allows the weight of your legs to create length. Like the supported version of Setu Bandha, Jathara Parivartanasana calms your nervous system and cools excessive heat.