Self-care means taking care of ourselves, and yoga is a tool that allows us to do this in an all-around way. Let’s see together why practicing this Eastern discipline allows us to feel good and how it can change daily life.
Yoga and body care. Learning to accept yourself and slow down
If I say yoga, it is likely that the first image that pops into your mind is of a person intent on recreating a contorted position with the body. Here, what you may not know is that the postures, called asanas, are but a small part of what is meant by yoga,and especially that the degree of flexibility and strength you have does not make you more or less fit to practice yoga.
Yoga is not about putting one’s body into articulated positions, but training, through movements and positions that are right for our body, the mind to achieve balance and harmony. Indeed, behind each asana lies an entire philosophy of life, and the ultimate goal is not to recreate a pose according to a precise canon, but to do it in the perfect way for our bodies, which are unique.
Taking care of oneself goes through the body first, because putting the body in motion allows one to put the mind in motion and generate new habits. Even a short 10-minute yoga practice can prove to be an important moment of self-care: through exploring our bodily limitations, learning to stand in positions that create us dis-comfort and in others that relax us, yoga opens the door for us to a journey of self-acceptance; we learn to accept our bodies not only for what they can do but also for what they cannot do, discovering that if we allow ourselves to slow down and give ourselves the gift of the most precious commodity, time, our body is revealed as a place of possibility, strength, fragility and love. When we integrate all these components, we experience well-being.
Yoga and mind healing. Learning to be in the present
Yoga is body but it is also mind: in fact, self-care also passes through the mind; through movement we take care of thoughts and mental habits, which are reflected in concrete life.
During yoga practice you train the mind to stay in the present, letting thoughts go away as they came. Phrases such as: “I have to remember to buy cereal.” or “Where did I put that sweater that I haven’t found in a week?” and thoughts about the big and small decisions of our daily lives inevitably arise while we are trying to balance on one foot or trying to remember the sun salutation, but slowly we learn to let them go, learning the art of being in the present. Over time, one can then notice Changes in one’s mental habits and priorities: the “how clumsy I am in this movement” turns into “how beautiful I look when I do this position”; the “I’m too tired, I think I’ll shoot 3 episodes of a series” becomes “I’ll put on some music and do a little practice, taking care of myself.”
Yoga and breath: learn to flow
Yoga as an act of self-care then passes through the breath. In fact, often, without realising it, we contribute to our daily stress levels by forgetting to breathe properly. Inconstant, labored breathing to the rhythm of deadlines, commitments and pounding thoughts is what prevents us from achieving a healthy balance. Then, taking care of the breath becomes synonymous with taking care of oneself.
In yoga, breath is what unites body and mind; it is the central element of the practice; by breathing with intention and slowness, not only do we literally ventilate the brain, getting all the oxygen it needs, but we learn to flow, becoming more inclined to welcome life as a wonderful journey.
And did you ever think that paying attention to the way you breathe while brushing your teeth or riding a bicycle could be a moment of self-care?
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