When I was first asked to write an article about balance and self-care I became overwhelmed with ideas. I felt like I had so much to say, yet for some reason I was having a hard time writing anything coherent. And then a lightbulb went off. I was not balanced! My attempts to sit down and write were either during little bits of free time from work, or at the end of the day when I was exhausted.
So, I finally took everyone’s advice. I allowed myself to sleep in, I turned off my phone alerts and after consuming at least three delicious muffins a good friend forced upon me…I found the space to write.
I learned about balance at a very young age when I discovered that no matter how badly I wanted to indulge in the world’s largest ice cream cone, if I kept piling on bigger and bigger scoops, eventually the cone would break and the whole thing would fall apart. Your body and mind work in a similar way. If you do not take time for yourself, find balance between work and play and honor yourself as much as those around you, you too are likely to “fall apart”.
What is Self-Care?
Leading a healthy, balanced life can include eating well, engaging in regular physical activity (which can be as simple as going for a walk, or talking an awesome yoga class at One Down Dog), and making sure you are getting enough rest. Another important aspect of self-care is figuring out what you love to do, and not forgetting to do it! What are your hobbies? What do you get excited about?
Self-care is often neglected, and, unless you are privileged to work with other folks in the healing profession, chances are you do not get much encouragement from the outside world to take a break. Self-care is as essential as eating, brushing your teeth or taking a shower. This is the way you cleanse yourself from the inside out.
Self-Care and Yoga
Yoga provides a space for me to become internal. When I take a yoga class I don’t have to talk about my day or my feelings. In fact, I don’t have to talk at all. (To those of you who know me, yes, there are times when I am actually silent!)
In yoga, I don’t think about why I feel a certain way, I just feel. In addition, I am encouraged to remain present with these feelings. Rather than run away or detach, I am asked to become conscious of my experience and each emotion that comes with it.
And what happens when you are present? You have no choice but to take notice of how you feel and how you respond to those feelings. Yoga postures are intentionally designed to challenge all aspects of your physical and emotional body. What do you do when you are in a strenuous situation? How physically balanced do you feel? How do you react if you lose your balance? I remember for the first few months of my yoga practice I felt like just being instructed to let go and relax was a challenge. But no matter what, by the end of class I felt good.
By remaining present, I am able to observe growth in my practice, and myself, no matter how subtle or small. Although the first few yoga classes are always a bit awkward and weird feeling, each time I returned to my mat I felt a bit more secure and prepared.
Through this practice I have learned to use my breath to calm my body when I feel challenged. My journey through yoga has been an empowering process. I’ve learned that while I cannot always control the world around me, I can control how I will allow the world to affect me.
Just Do Something!
Without knowing how to care for yourself, how can you successfully care for others? Rather than allowing your life to take you away from the things that you love, make an effort to incorporate those things into your life.
If you truly want to give back and help the people around you, you must remember to give back to yourself. Because, when you are a happier person, that happiness extends to all the people you encounter.