We see it on practically every retreat we run … some guests arrive looking pale & exhausted. It’s as if someone has extinguished the very spark that once lit them up and they’ve used every ounce of energy that’s left to get to the retreat.
It’s quite scary to see how they’ve clearly been pushing themselves so hard in their life that, by the time they get to us, they’re absolutely & totally spent. Nothing left to give.
Doesn’t that tell you there’s something wrong with their lifestyle? Most likely they’ve ignored their body’s “i’m exhausted” messages for a very long time.
“I think it is essential sometimes to go to a retreat, to stop everything and look at your life anew, to not keep repeating like machines. Let some fresh air into your minds.” ~ J. Krishnamurti
I’m not criticising nor being judgemental here. I too have lived a crazy busy life (see our story) and this is why we started our yoga retreat business 10+ years ago … to create a space that allows people to completely switch off and let go of the busyness of their world.
Space to step back and see life from a whole new perspective.
So whilst we’re busy behind the scenes on our retreats organising the yoga sessions, the delicious meals, fine tuning the calming meditations & our ‘fun but good for you’ activities, our guests are able to completely absorb the entire rejuvenating experience that a retreat allows …including lots of self care.
Self Care is something we actively encourage on our retreats. Self care is anything that makes you feel good about yourself and has been recognised by health care professionals as being essential to our wellness.
We’re all aware that a healthy diet & regular exercise can dramatically improve diseases such as high blood pressure, anxiety & diabetes, but the addition of self care has been recognised as having a positive impact on our mental well being too.
After all, what we think affects how we feel, speak & act towards others.
It could be as simple as having a mani/pedi, going for a long walk, taking yourself off to bed earlier, meeting a good friend for a coffee, enjoying a relaxing bath, taking a yoga class or learning more about something you love.
Not everything is classed as self care though. Alcohol and over eating may make you feel happy in the short term but that happiness is temporary and is often replaced by feelings of regret & listlessness.
So essentially, self care is …
Anything that offers long term benefits for your body, mind and spirit.
Yoga as a source of self care
Practicing yoga creates feelings of deep wellness. It encourages us to observe and listen inwards so that we become more ‘in tune’ with our bodies. As we slow down & become quieter during yoga we become more aware of where our body is strong, weak or tense. We become aware of any emotions that are affecting our mood and, as Yoga encourages self acceptance, our inner critic (if evident) is disarmed.
From this point of view, yoga is a great form of self care.
My own yoga practice has changed over the 20 years I’ve been practicing & teaching. At the beginning I was all about fast paced sweaty type classes but now, I appreciate the benefits of slowing down my yoga practice. Spending time in a pose allows me to notice the tiny moments of peace when my body feels at ease as I allow myself to relax and go deeper into a pose.
Slowing down allows my yoga practice to deepen.
That’s not to say that I don’t occasionally do fast paced yoga too, I do, but not all of the time.
I feel honoured to teach yoga as yoga provides a ‘space’ where people can take time out of their lives for themselves .. to invest in self care.
When teaching yoga on our retreats, I hope to give a taste of how a daily yoga practice can make you feel in the hope that you’ll continue taking care of your well being when you return home.
So, if you’ve not got a retreat to disappear to soon, what acts of self care can you schedule today, tomorrow or this week for yourself? Really, it’s very important for your overall wellness and relationships with others as ….
You cannot ‘be there’ for others unless you take care of yourself first.
Some self care suggestions …
- Invite silence into your life whether that be switching off all devices or meditating in silence for a few minutes morning or evening (or both!)
- Do 5 minutes of simple yoga in silence
- Sit with eyes closed and just breathe slow & deep .. focus on your breathing, watch it gently ebb & flow
- Get a Journal & write down your thoughts (empty your mind) and/or make a list of everything you are grateful for at this moment in your life
- Draw, paint, sing, play an instrument (if you can) … just loose yourself in any creative outlet
- Give yourself a self massage
- Book a mani or pedi
- Head out for a walk .. or a run if that’s ‘your thing’
- Go to bed early & read
- Take a long candle lit bath
- Listen to an inspiring podcast or soothing music
- Arrange to spend time with people you love to be with
I hope this has made you think about how much self care you give to yourself. I’d love to hear how what you do to look yourself.
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