Sometimes when I read for too long sitting in the same position, my body gets sore and restless. I’m not sure if this happens to many other people, but when it happens to me, all I want to do is move around. The problem is that if I move around too much, I might lose track of where I am on the page and find myself reading the same sentence over and over again. If I try to read lying down flat, I inevitably drop the book on my face (this has happened to everyone, don’t pretend otherwise). If I try to read while walking around my house, I am infinitely more likely to walk into a corner or a wall (again, I think this is universal)
For a while now, I’ve been doing some yoga while I read. Follow the flow below and hold each pose for as long as feels right for you. These all flow together into a soft sequence that aims to relax. Book at the ready? Here we go…
- Chair Pose
I still haven’t mastered running while holding a paperback, but I’m sure someone out there has. Still, if you want to really strengthen the body while reading your novel, try a Chair Pose. Stand with your big toes together, heels a little apart. Exhale and bend your knees, just like you’re going to sit down on a seat. Of course, the seat isn’t there- the challenge is to hold the position. When it starts to burn, draw back upward. Maybe read a page, then try again. It’s not easy!
- Lotus Pose
Come to a comfortable cross-legged position. Carefully lift one foot and tuck it into the opposite hip crease. This is half lotus. If you’re comfortable, lift the other foot and tuck it into its opposite hip too for full lotus. If the knees feel sore, don’t push, but come back to a cross-legged position that suits you. See how long you can keep the spine long while you gobble through the words on the page!
- Swan Pose
Begin on all fours. Bring the right knee forward between the hands, foot aimed toward your left hip (or, if you’re comfortable, out to the left side at a 90 degree angle). No need to rush, but when you’re ready, stretch the left leg back along the mat. Square the hips. Hinge the body forward, lowering onto your forearms if possible, where you can snugly tuck your book into your hands and read for a bit before swapping sides and doing the pose with the left knee forward.
- Child’s Pose
When I teach yoga, Child’s Pose is the sanctuary pose. When I feel a little overwhelmed, I like to hunker down into Child’s Pose in my living room. Start on all fours. Slowly sit back so your butt comes toward your heels (they don’t have to touch). Full child’s pose has the forehead on the floor, but if you prop your head up with your own hands, leaving your book open in front of you, this is a lovely way to read. Whenever I do this, I’m reminded of being a kid, folded over my books, enraptured.
- Legs Up The Wall Pose
This is one of my favourite poses of all time- it’s super relaxing and lovely to hang out in. Sit with your legs parallel to a wall, and move your butt as close to the wall as you can. Gently turn your body toward the floor and raise your legs up the wall. When your legs are on the wall, rest your back onto the floor (or onto some cushions or a bolster if you want support).
Once you’re in this position, pull a blanket over you if you’re likely to get chilly. Let the legs relax against the wall. Grab your book and work out what way best suits you to get 15 minutes of reading done in this position. I like lying with my head relaxing on some pillows- turning pages is easy and I don’t feel strained.
If you’ve made it through the sequence, congratulations! Now you know you can keep the muscles and joints nice and supple- and still read a book for 6 hours straight if that tickles your fancy!