Your body is an engineering marvel. And like any well-engineered marvel, it needs maintenance and fine tuning. That’s where self care comes into play, according to Mary Kluz, MS, RYT-200, Viniyoga Teacher at 5 Koshas.
What is self care? “Self care is about checking in on oneself, identifying unmet needs and seeking ways to meet those needs,” explains Kluz.
Self care can evolve from our responses to various aspects in life —from physical and emotional, to spiritual, professional and relational, or to some or all of these things at any given time. “Human needs are universal, but how we satisfy those needs vary greatly,” says Kluz, who along with teaching, has been dedicated to a personal yoga practice for 16 years.
“A good way to check in on yourself is to pay attention to how you are feeling, physically and emotionally. Are you feeling agitated? Do you have a short fuse? Do you feel down?” she says. “Sometimes these ‘bad’ emotions are good indicators that your body is waving a flag. It needs some help. This is a good time to consider self care.”
Kluz acknowledges that society doesn’t always allow people the time they need for self care, or that self care can be viewed as selfish. She believes that you can’t take care of others, whether you are a parent or a caregiver, a leader at work, or a partner in a relationship for example, without taking care of yourself first.
Self-Care Self Checkin
How do you get started?
First, recognize and embrace self compassion. “You have to believe that you deserve to have this care, that it’s ok to focus on your own needs without feeling selfish,” Kluz says.
Second, take the time to slow down enough to check in with yourself and reflect. “Look inside yourself and recognize the feelings you have, and use those feelings as guideposts,” she says.
Third, identify the needs that may be driving those feelings. Can you pinpoint what is serving you and what isn’t? Be open, and also give yourself permission to consider different strategies to better meet your needs. It can be as simple as giving yourself permission to change your mind.
Finally, take action toward self care. “Ask yourself, ‘Can I do this on my own or do I need to ask for help?’ This is where yoga can play a role, because it focuses on creating unity between your body and mind,” she adds. “Yoga cultivates more consistent communication between our bodies and our brains.”
Yoga as Part of Self-Care Practice
There are different triggers in life that may bring students into a yoga practice. When they join her classes, Kluz meets her students where they are and helps them explore the benefits of yoga.
“Yoga can provide students with an opportunity to practice interoception — that is the sense of what is going on inside our bodies,” she explains. Interoception is what helps people recognize different emotions, and also can help with understanding and responding to them.
Yoga also provides an opportunity for proprioception, or the perception and awareness of where our bodies are in space. “For example, if you’re doing a yoga pose and have to put one foot behind your body where you can’t see it, proprioception allows you to be certain that your foot is still back there, supporting you. Focusing on this sense allows one to be more in the moment, feeling grounded to the earth.”
Lastly, yoga helps tone the nervous system, fostering unity between the body and mind.
Self care is for anyone — and while Moms are on our minds as we look toward Mother’s Day — self care is critical for anyone in a caregiving role. It’s a life skill that can be modeled for our own children to help them approach and experience life on a more even keel.
For further exploration, 5 Koshas offers an in-studio and online class, Gentle Yoga for Beginners and Beyond learn more HERE Consider a gift card for the caregivers in your life this Mother’s Day. You can learn more and purchase HERE