A Crafty Way to Relax: Yoga and Knitting

Sarah Alender
A Crafty Way to Relax: Yoga and Knitting

Knit your way to peace of mind! It sounds like an infomercial, but it’s really more of a movement—a movement by knitting fanatics and yogis to connect their two worlds.

If you’re starting to get worried about some new fad where you have to knit a scarf or a dog sweater by the end of your yoga class, don’t be. There’s no such thing as yoga knitting (yet); all that exists right now is a growing awareness that yoga and knitting have more in common than people might realize.

Rachel Matthew, founder of Cast Off, the radical London-based knitting club famed for being thrown out of the Savoy hotel for daring to knit things there, told The Guardian, “I realized, to my horror, that at the age of 33 I had used up a lifetime’s quota of impact on my wrists, forearms and shoulder blades...As my skills developed and my productivity increased, so my body started to complain. I started yoga five years ago to help counteract the effects.”

Knitting Is Meditative As It Is Repetitive

Tara Stiles, a New York yoga instructor known for her casual and accessible style of yoga, tells The Guardian that to her, the relationship between knitting and yoga isn’t just about healing their wrists and arms after too many years of clicking the needles. “Knitting feels very meditative, like all the yoga stuff I do,” she says. “Because you're doing a similar pattern over and over, it becomes very calming.”

In 2013, founder of Stitchlinks and former physiotherapist and Betsan Corkhill co-authored a study published in the British Journal of Occupational Therapy that explored knitting’s effects on wellbeing and the mind.

Corkhill says that the rhythmic, repetitive movements used in knitting are similar to those used in yoga in that they “calm the heart rate and breathing, creating a feeling of stability and inner quiet. Much like executing a series of yogi asanas over and over again.”

Cast Off aims “to promote the art of knitting as a healthy, contemporary, and creative pastime.” To many people, this meshes well with the philosophy behind yoga.

It looks like knitting might soon be added to the pantheon of mindful activities. What do you think? Is knitting as relaxing as yoga, or does it tie you up in knots?