Consider Yoga for Self Care

By Annie Lockwood, RYT-200

Think of your body as your home. We must not only tend to the outside—the side that all others can see—but also to the inside—the side not everyone gets to see. Your body houses all of your experiences, and much like a home, you need to take time to explore it, and care for it, fully.

Self-care is one way to begin that exploration. The National Institute of Mental Health defines self-care as taking the time to do things that help you live well and improve your physical and mental health.

How do you begin? Consider adopting a yoga practice, which offers an entire toolbox to care for your body, mind, and nervous system.

When we practice self-care regularly through yoga, we grow our compassion for self (self-compassion), love for self (self-love), and we fill our self-cup. This allows us to have more compassion to offer to others, and we can more freely give and express loving kindness to others.

There are many other benefits as well.

Building Resiliency

Being resilient is the ability to withstand or recover quickly from difficult conditions. Yoga can help you learn to manage your reactions to stress or other tough situations in life.

Strengthening and Toning Muscles and Easing Tension

A yoga practice can teach you many poses and postures to help improve your physical health. These poses and postures help to stretch, lengthen and tone muscles, ease soreness or tension, support bone growth and maintain and improve balance. By doing
so, you can help your body to remain physically resilient for both work, play and other activities you enjoy.

Supporting Energy Levels

Our breath is a tool that can be manipulated and applied in ways that help achieve different energy and nervous-system support results.

A yoga practice can help you learn postures and breathing techniques to activate your resting and relaxing side of the nervous system, as well as boost energy when feeling exhausted or tired.

For example, you can learn postures and breathing techniques to extend exhales to slow down heart and breath rate, matching the pace of body movement to the breath to activate the resting side of the nervous system.

To increase energy when feeling exhausted or tired, a practice will focus more on extending the length of inhales, waking up the nervous system and brain. You may practice more upright postures and back-bending postures.

Improving Mental Focus

When our mind is full of demands, judgements, excitement, anger and stress, it can feel much like boating on a choppy lake—waves of thoughts rocking us to and from. But when the mind is calm, relaxed, has slow or little thought activity, it has a calming effect, giving our body and nervous system a soothing break.

A yoga practice will:

Apply specific breath techniques to access both the right side and left side of the brain, and help you learn left- and right-side-of-body adaptations to yoga poses, as well as balance poses.

Use chanting/sound with our movement, and positive affirmations, to add a focal point to practice and plant a new “thought seed pattern”.

The key for self-care is to help support all aspects of YOU—and build resilience. By doing so, you can give more of yourself to others and all can reap the benefits and gifts you have to offer.

Learn more about classes here