Sunday, July 12, 2015

Sunday Stretch for Sewers #1

Welcome to the first installment of Sunday Stretch for Sewers.  I plan to do this once a month, around mid-month, and see how it goes.  The idea came from a conversation with Julie of, who said she was feeling stiff and sore, so she told me she thought I should write a post about yoga stretches for long hours at the sewing machine.  It's been percolating on the back burner in my mind ever since.  Here we go.
This is not a metaphor for the wacky compartments of my brain, lol, but still a metaphor...
As those of you who have followed me for any amount of time know, yoga is a huge part of my life, has been for more than 15 years.  I teach 3 classes a week, the perfect, in my mind, part-time job for a retired school teacher. :-)  I have a 200-hour Yoga Alliance certificate for Ashtanga training, and two 20-hour certificates in Yin.  Yin is what I teach; I do both Ashtanga and Yin for my own practice.  However, I am certainly no expert, no professional, so these stretches are just what works for me when I have aching shoulders, stiffness in the low back, or legs that want a stretch.  (Thanks to my darling husband for taking these photos, even though he thinks I am a nutbar - and it did feel a little weird, I'll admit, to do this.)

Here is the first one I often will do, a standing forward bend, known as Dangling in Yin yoga.
Feet are hip-width apart, legs are either straight or bent at the knees, and you hold onto opposite elbows.
These are actual Yin poses, however, and, as such, they not only will stretch aching muscles, if held for 2 or 3 minutes or longer, they begin to work on the connective tissues in the body:  the ligaments, tendons and fascial web that holds our bodies together.  In a nutshell, with regular practice, you can begin to find some space, find some more flexibility, and allow better blood flow through these areas that are stressed.  This gives many benefits, but in general, an increase in general well-being will occur.  :-)  Breathe steadily and slowly, in and out through your nose.
Dangling, arms in an alternate variation: relaxed down
Bending the legs will work the thigh muscles more and will release the low back more fully.  Straightening the legs works the hamstrings more but still releases the low back.  Let the back round, and let your head go too.  If your back feels strained, then you can rest your elbows against a table, chair, or on your thighs.  Avoid this if you have high blood pressure; you may want to do the same forward bend idea, but sitting on the floor.

To come out, bend your knees, place your hands on the floor and go into Squat.
Mild back bend; great for the ankles (note I am not sitting on that heat register; there is space between my butt and the floor)
You can rest your ankles on a rolled up quilt :-) so the bend in the front of the ankle is not so intense.  Keep your knees going the same direction as your feet; widening the space between your feet will work into the hip joints more, and can take some pressure off the ankles.  Keep in mind that we start to tighten up and age first of all in our feet, so strengthening our feet (toes and ankles) is really important.  To come out of this pose, either sit down and stretch your legs out, or, more challenging, is to come back up into Dangling and do another round.  You can work up to holding each of these for 2-3 minutes.

A Yin flow, like the first quilty picture, which is the beginnings of my Scrap Vortex, found here at Crazy Mom Quilts, will put several pieces, or poses, together to make an overall wonderful workout (or quilt, ha) for the body, mind and spirit.  As we hold these poses, we have time to go inside our body, both watching our breath flow in and out slowly and steadily, and also getting in touch with the sensations we are experiencing in various parts of our bodies.  This awareness helps our busy minds to slow down, relax, and be more fully present in all aspects of our life, not just while we are on our yoga mat.  However, these two simple stretches can also help to relieve some muscle tension from too many hours of FMQ!

I also mentioned I had started Cynthia's Scrap-a-Palooza quilt #16:
I have a set of blue blocks half done as well.  I really like the circles layout she ended up using, but there are many possibilities for these log cabin blocks.  I've made several log cabin quilts, but never this offset style where one set of the logs is wider than the other.

I will be linking this post with Oh Scrap! at Quilting is More Fun Than Housework, the place to be every Sunday if you want scrappy inspiration.

Note:  My Yin notes are based on information in Bernie Clark's book The Complete Guide to Yin Yoga.  You can purchase it on Amazon or through his website,


  1. A good forward fold always feels great to me, and I have never done a flow from the fold into a squat... I'm going to go try that for a bit before sitting at my computer typing more today. Thank you and I love the idea of this series!

  2. That felt great!! THANKS!!! Butttttt...I think you should make this a weekly, Sunday post!! LOVE IT!

  3. What a great idea, Sandra! I will definitely try these. I have been wanting to ask you about yoga anyway. One of my retirement goals is to try a yoga class, but I don't know where to look for one! Any advice? Your log cabins look great - I really like that block and all of the different layouts you can do with it!

  4. I certainly need to stop and stretch more often! Thanks for sharing. I love your circle blocks. I am looking forward to seeing what you do with them. Thanks for sharing your scrappy goodness with Oh Scrap!

  5. Oh, my - I used to do that - the dangling and then going to a squat - back in the days when I was a line-cook/pizza-cook. It always felt good because it gave a break to my legs and back after too many hours on my feet. After those stretches, I could go for on for even more hours. I never would have dreamed that it was a form of yoga...

  6. Any thoughts on tennis elbow? Paper piecing seems to bother it the most.

  7. Great series, I need stretches, my body is getting way to tight-and not in a good way either, LOL It seems I have no muscles either. Looking forward to ones especially for the shoulders and neck :-) Nice start on your log cabins!

  8. Wonder if this will work for me , a 73 year old

  9. Great idea! This combines your 3 loves - sewing, yoga & teaching! Too funny - me being the non-sewer, read the title as "sewer", as in wastewater LOL!

  10. Thanks for sharing, I will definitely give these a try as once I get going I forget stop frequently until I start to feel tight.

  11. Thanks for sharing, I will definitely give these a try as once I get going I forget stop frequently until I start to feel tight.

  12. I appreciate the encouragement to stretch. :) And I love the peeks at your scrappy projects.

  13. Sandra, you are too cute. And yes, we can all use a stretch. Sending hugs to you - that is another way to stretch. Is it not?

  14. Great idea. I have my ironing board the other side of my sewing room so I have to get up when I'm piecing. When I'm quilting I set my phone alarm for every twenty minutes so I get up and have a stretch at regular intervals

  15. I agree with Valerie - this would be a great weekly post!!! I so need to start doing something like this, and to have another quilter provide the idea and tutorials makes it seem more like quilting, and less like exercise... ;-)


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