"As we begin to re-experience a visceral reconnection with the needs of our bodies, there is a brand new capacity to warmly love the self. We experience a new quality of authenticity in our caring, which redirects our attention to our health, our diets, our energy, our time management. This enhanced care of the self arises spontaneously and naturally, not as a response to a "should". We are able to experience an immediate and intrinsic pleasure in self-care" Stephen Cope, Yoga and the Quest for Self
Over the last five years, my yoga journey has slowly deepened and awakened within me a more expansive understanding of what self-care means. My aunt, Joan Barris, introduced me to the concept of self-care a few years ago with an ARTISTS WAY study...for most of my life, I just got dragged along by the busyness and demands, and could hardly see how to carve time out for myself as I sought to care for family and maintain career. It began to make sense, however, that if I didn't replenish my body and spirit, that I would "run out of gas" so to speak.
As I slowly added yoga classes to my life's schedule, erratically in the beginning, the process started to take root in my body. Each teacher had a different way to get me to essentially the same place - a place of stopping, noticing, being in the moment with just my body, breath, and mind....to show compassion for pain, to challenge the stubborn, to be open to possibility. With gentle or commanding voices, each teacher would take me to a new place that was just for me in that moment; showing me how to let go of distractions and turn inward - to face myself and my reality. To embrace my body just as it is and love it, cherish it, nourish it with simple breath...
Take advantage of simple opportunities to honor yourself - whether it be a warm bath with scented oils or a special dinner that you make with your preferences and needs in mind. Stretch and move in the workplace instead of just being captive to a seat. Read, listen to your favorite music, write in a journal...and of course, take in a yoga class and integrate a short routine into your morning or evening rituals.
I can honestly say that a continued yoga practice combined with teaching others has increased my awareness of self and my desire to help others to honor their bodies and lives. Getting in touch with your body through the physical poses in tandem with breath and meditation practice helps you slow down the "merry-go-round"...to think more about who you are and what you are becoming by each choice and action. My hope for you is that the practice of yoga will awaken within you a deep commitment to care of the precious gift that has been given to you - your life - and that your life will be a unique light that shines on others. Prioritizing YOU will provide the strength and energy to let that light shine.