Self-care has been a buzz in the recent past. You have probably heard it in nutrition, fitness and mobile application adverts and sales campaigns. While it may seem like a marketing strategy, self-care is very important for the general wellbeing including the physical, emotional and mental health. As a yoga teacher, I hold self-care very dearly. I don’t see it as trendy, but as a practice that should be incorporated in our daily living to help raise a healthy society and nation. So, what is that one practice that can help take your self-care game to the next level? I would say yoga for these reasons: Yoga uses simple techniques that are easy to learn, you don’t need a huge investment in terms of money and time to get started.
Yoga as a self-care practice
I recommend yoga as a self-care practice not because it is what I teach, and literally make a living from. However, I’ve seen yoga being very instrumental in my own growth and transformation. Moreover, every day I see my students become better physically and mentally. Yoga poses and movements help in toning the body and strengthening the muscles, keeping our bodies fit physically. In addition, there is the mindfulness aspect of yoga that is rarely talked about. Yoga practices help break the hard shell that we put on in order to cope with life demands and challenges. Consequently, it helps us touch the tenderness that is inside us. In other words, yoga gives us overall wellness by inviting us to ourselves, helping us to discover more about our bodies and emotions and helping us to befriend our body, heart and mind.
How yoga can improve your health
I have seen my students choose yoga for the physical and mental benefits that it offers. My students say that they feel calm and in touch with their bodies after every session. However, these are not the only ways that yoga helps improve health. Here are some other benefits of yoga:
- Slow movements, balancing and deep breathing enhances strength, balance and flexibility
- Meditation helps you step into the right mindset for a restful night’s sleep
- Yoga reduces stress, which consequently improves your heart health
- Yoga helps relieve pain from joints, which is especially helpful for arthritis patients
- Body stretching eases pain and improves mobility for people who suffer lower back pain
- Yoga practices help quiet the mind, improving the ability to focus and increasing attention span
Simple and helpful yoga practices
You have seen the benefits of yoga, but where do you start. I will teach you some really simple poses that you can incorporate in your daily workout session. However, it is good to work with a yoga teacher as a beginner. I work with my students individually by creating a routine that works for them. You would want to benefit from the same as well. Here are some poses that you can try:
- Tree pose
This pose helps improve strength and balance. To do it, balance on one foot holding the other foot above the knee or calf. Then try focusing on one spot for a minute.
- Standing side bend
This pose lengthens a tight back and compressed spine to get rid of lower back pain. You would need to stand with your legs and feet together. Lower your left arm to the left side of your body. Exhale as you lengthen the right hand over your head, then bend gently to the left. Hold for 30 seconds, inhale as you return your right arm to the center. Repeat on the right side.
- Happy baby
Best for relaxation and opening the groin, lower back and inner thighs. Lie on your back and hold your big toes between the index and middle fingers. Pull the toes down so that your knees can pull towards your shoulders. Keep the knees open, relaxing and breathing for 30 seconds.
- Downward dog
This pose is best for heart health. Start on all fours and tuck your toes under. Push your body up so that only the hands and feet remain on the mat. Make sure to engage the abdominals as you do this. Move your chest towards your thighs to make a triangle shape. Remember to keep knees slightly bent, spine, and tailbone lengthened.
- Yogi squat
This one keeps the years away, giving you the zeal of a young person. Start on your feet and hands in prayer at chest. Crouch down and keep the tailbone between your ankles. Press elbows against inner thighs and keep hands firmly together. Hold the pose for 30 seconds.
Tips for success
When starting yoga, you probably have your goals set as achieving inner peace and optimum health. Thus, successful yoga practices should set you on this path. I can tell you that success starts with finding a good yoga teacher. Besides getting professional help, it ushers you into a community and helps reduce chances of injuries. Even if you can’t attend classes physically, you can find one who offers online lessons or one who can offer private lessons at your home. That being said, here are some tips to help you succeed:
- Create a schedule for yoga and make it a regular practice
- Listen to your body and be realistic about your abilities
- Find the right yoga clothes such as yoga pants and supportive top
- If doing it at home, invest in a non-slip mat
- Stay hydrated and eat moderately before practice
- Breath slowly and deeply
- Don’t forget your goals and intentions
Designing a yoga studio
Yoga involves the body, mind and soul. At the very least, it should be relaxing. That is why the space you dedicate for yoga at home is very crucial. I have made an effort to create a beautiful and tranquil space for my clients. I have used pastel colors and maximized the natural light to feel the place with color and light. I also installed gym flooring on the room since it was needed for effective and comfortable yoga sessions. In addition, I brought the outdoors in by adding potted plants. All these and more have come together to create a relaxing ambience in the personal space of my yoga center.
Yoga is a sure way to get you in tune with your body, mind and heart, necessary for your general wellbeing. If you have been wondering how to get into the self-care bandwagon, yoga practice is the best place to start. Find the best teacher, learn a few poses and make it a regular practice in your schedule. Hopefully, this article is helpful in your journey.