As a holistic therapist, I talk a lot about self-care. It's a concept that is as important to myself as it is for my clients. Self-care is a right and a responsibility. Yes, a responsibility.
Think about your car. It needs gasoline, air in the tires, and oil changes. Without regular maintenance, a vehicle wont last long. Our bodies, minds, and spirits operate in a similar way. When we use our resources there is need to refuel. Otherwise we run the risk of breaking down.
So what exactly is self-care? Any activity or event that contributes to your physical, mental, and spiritual well-being counts! It might be something as grand as a month-long vacation in the Caribbean, or something as simple as a candle-lit bubble bath. If it rejuvenates you, that's all that matters. Don't stress by thinking that self-care has to be anything in particular. Remember the saying, “If it feels good, do it!”
So how can yoga help with self-care?
Yoga is a great self-care practice by nature. It attends to and rejuvenates the body, mind, and spirit. For instance, if you're feeling overwhelmed with racing thoughts, try alternate nostril breathing or nadi shodhana:
- Begin with a comfortable seated position and bring your right hand in front of your nose.
- Before you inhale, use your thumb to hold your right nostril closed. Inhale deeply and pause, holding the breath for just a moment.
- Release the right nostril and use your ring finger to close the left nostril as you exhale.
- Keeping the left nostril closed, inhale deeply through the right, pause, and switch sides.
- Repeat this cycle, keeping your attention on each inhalation and exhalation. If thoughts or sensations arise, simply acknowledge them and come back to the breath.
Beyond the act of yoga as a self-care practice, practicing yoga can help us identify when and where our self-care may be lacking. When we are still, when we are mindful, awareness is heightened. I've heard people say that they burst into tears during a yoga class, only to discover some emotion they were trying to bury. By fulling experiencing the present moment and listening to our bodies, we can be more aware of the deficiencies in our regular maintenance.
So, whatever your self-care may be, a frothy cappuccino or a trip to the mountains, make sure to keep your machine running!