There are many ways, goals, intentions, and different ways to approach yoga practice. The ancient yogis originally used it as a form of meditation and a path to enlightenment. Today, most people practice to increase strength and flexibility, reduce stress and anxiety, and increase energy levels. As well as being an effective mind-body workout, yoga offers a variety of ways to encourage self-care. When you are feeling exhausted, emotionally exhausted, and mentally exhausted, a few minutes of yoga can be key to finding balance, ease, and connection that is lacking in your life.
What is Self Care?
Self-care means taking care of ourselves in positive ways in order to improve our health, increase our well-being, and improve our ability to face life’s challenges. Self-care is any type of physical, mental, or spiritual activity that you do for yourself that can help you feel better, healthier, and more energetic.
Self-care is an essential part of a healthy and balanced life. It’s an important part of wellbeing and helps us become better parents, co-workers, friends, and better people overall. Self-care practices keep us balanced and enable us to be our best selves. It is an essential ingredient in preventing emotional exhaustion, burnout, and apathy.
What is Yoga for Self Care?
Self-care is arguably the most important aspect of your health and wellbeing, but making time for yourself can be difficult, especially since it can feel selfish and indulgent to do things that make us feel good. Yoga is an amazing tool for self-care as it can enhance and promote compassion, kindness, and love, giving ourselves permission to attend to our needs. It can instill the awareness, contemplation, and introspection to uncover your real needs. A consistent approach can also provide information on how these needs can be addressed creatively and effectively.
A 2015 study confirmed the power of yoga for self-care, with yoga participants reporting “significantly higher self-care and less emotional exhaustion and depersonalization after completing an 8-week yoga intervention,” while the control group showed no change. The yoga group showed a significant improvement in their scores for self-care, mindfulness, emotional exhaustion, and depersonalization after class.
Yoga tools for self care
There are several simple ways you can use yoga to improve your mental, physical, spiritual, and social wellbeing. The power of yoga for self care is that it creates a simple and sustainable habit, is a holistic and balanced approach to wellness, and strengthens our emotional resilience so that we can easily deal with difficult circumstances to prevent stress and burnout.
1. Reduce Stress to Promote Wellbeing
Several studies have linked stress to many health problems, including heart disease, high blood pressure, depression, insomnia, weight gain, and more. Stress relief techniques such as breathing exercises, guided imagery, mindfulness exercises, and yoga all work together to reduce stress in our bodies. Practicing these methods regularly is the most effective way to feel calmer and happier.
Feeling too much stress is a sign that something is wrong in your life – be it physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, or social. When you’re feeling stressed out, there are several yoga techniques that can help you create calm and inner peace. Although yoga techniques can greatly reduce stress levels, make sure that you don’t use them as a band-aid for deeper life problems.
- Do pranayama. Deep breathing reduces anxiety and increases relaxation. This technique works because it lets oxygen into your bloodstream and releases endorphins that create feelings of happiness and contentment. Incorporate basic diaphragmatic breathing into your practice and throughout the day. If you are feeling particularly exhausted, practice Sama Vritti or Nadi Sodhana Pranayama for a few minutes.
- Meditate. Meditation lowers levels of cortisol, a hormone linked to stress, by increasing alpha waves in the brain. When meditating, focus only on your thoughts and feelings without judgment. Meditation helps people cope better with stressful situations because they learn to control their emotions instead of letting them flow. Try a calming practice like our inner peace meditation or our heart chakra meditation.
- Practice calming yoga poses. Soothing poses, such as fold-forward positions and upper back bends, reduce muscle tension, calm the nervous system, and promote restful sleep. They also help break down stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol.
- Incorporate gratitude. At the beginning or at the end of your exercise, think of three things you are grateful for, or recall three positive experiences of your day. Doing this will put you in a positive mindset rather than engaging in negative thoughts. Gratitude is one of the easiest practices to bring joy and happiness into your life. Discover various other ways to bring gratitude to your yoga practice.
2. Strengthening physical health and immunity
Regular practice of asana and pranayama strengthens muscles and increases your immune system’s ability to fight off colds and flu viruses. Regular exercise improves cardiovascular function, muscle tone, bone density, flexibility, strength, coordination, posture and endurance. All of this leads to an improved quality of sleep, a reduced risk of injury and an increased energy level.
A yogic lifestyle also promotes a healthy diet that includes plenty of fruits and vegetables, as well as whole grains, lean sources of protein, and low-fat dairy products. This diet supports optimal digestion and absorption of nutrients into the body.
3. Create an emotional balance
Yoga and meditation teach us the importance of being present and mindful in stressful situations. When we practice this form of meditation, we learn to focus only on the here and now without getting caught up in past experiences or worries about the future. We become aware of our thoughts and emotions and begin to understand them instead of reacting to them. By becoming aware of our feelings, we can choose which ones to respond to and which to let go of.
In addition, by concentrating on our breath, we develop an awareness of our body and its sensations. This helps us identify where there is tension in our muscles and allows us to release accumulated energy. Regular asana practice improves cardiovascular function and circulation, reduces fatigue, builds muscle tone and burns calories. All of this contributes to an improved mood and increased vitality.
4. Strengthen social connections
Practicing self-care does not mean sitting alone in silence. Your wellbeing depends on deep connections and healthy relationships with others. Attending a yoga class regularly is an easy way to invest your time and energy in building new relationships and maintaining established ones. As a regular guest in a yoga studio, you also have the opportunity to connect with a like-minded social community.
5. Find spiritual connection and higher goals
Practice yoga asana and pranayama to connect spiritually with yourself through meditation. Meditation means sitting still and focusing on one thing, such as your breath or your mantra. You can find inspiration in nature by meditating outside. If you don’t want to do this on your own, consider joining a group practice. Many studios offer courses specifically designed to promote spirituality or consider visiting an ashram for a deeper spiritual experience.
How to Practice Yoga for Self Care: 5 Steps
There are many ways to incorporate self-care into your everyday life. Use these tips to make sure they happen on a regular basis so that you don’t neglect your own health. Here are five simple steps you can take to bring self-care into your life.
Step 1 – Reflect on your needs
Before you start taking care of yourself, it is important that you know what is unbalancing you in your life and what is good for you. In order to find balance and wellbeing, it may be necessary to let go of unhealthy patterns and relationships. It might be necessary to add or change something physical, mental, or spiritual. Think about anything and every aspect of your life! Once you identify these things, make a list and write down which ones are the most enjoyable, effective, and useful.
Step 2 – Set yourself a self-care intention
Once you know what to add or subtract from your routine, you can create one or more simple affirmations or intentions to use as powerful reminders of your goals. For example: “May I spend more time meditating” or “I am open to friendships and connections in the yoga studio”. Make these statements powerful and inspiring and post them at home where you can see them often.
Step 3 – plan ahead
If you want to achieve your goals successfully, plan ahead of how much time you will spend on self-care. Review your daily routine and set aside some time for these activities each day or several times a week. Remember, assigning specific time periods doesn’t always guarantee success. However, making a plan will help you stay motivated and focused.
Step 4 – start small
Start slowly. Don’t expect to change overnight. You can feel overwhelmed or discouraged if you try too hard right away. Take small steps by starting slowly. Try one new thing at a time until you are comfortable enough to add another activity to your schedule.
Step 5 – Assess how you are taking care of yourself
Make a note of what works to bring more care and nourishment into your life. Allow yourself to reflect on these achievements to increase your motivation to continue with your routine. If you don’t like the day, reconsider it and make some changes. Try different options until you get it right. Fortunately, there are plenty of other articles on self-catering yoga that you can explore and experiment with their recommendations.
Self-care isn’t always easy to initiate, but it doesn’t have to be difficult either. When our wellbeing is paramount, we become healthier people who enjoy their lives even more than before. We all deserve to live happy, healthy lives, and we need to remember that we deserve and deserve a little bit of time to ourselves every day. Yoga is an excellent option to meet many, if not all, of your grooming and wellness needs.