I find it fascinating the way the universe somehow knows exactly what you need at any given point. After with my rough YTT weekend behind me, I can’t say I felt all that inspired to head to training on Monday night. I was still feeling a little blue and focusing on what I hadn’t been accomplishing in YTT thus far. I will go so far as to say I groaned when I happened to look at the syllabus and saw what was on the agenda that evening. Self-care.
“Three hours of talking about self care?” I thought. “I talk about this ALL THE TIME with my patients and with my colleagues. I know what self care is.”
Of course, what I realize now is that while I may know what self-care is, I am not great at actually practicing it all the time.
We formed our YTT circle and started the lecture with a candle-glazing meditation to calm the nervous system. We discussed why self-care is so important, both as a yoga teacher and as a human being. We reviewed a list of several self-care practices and how to incorporate them into our daily routines.
This was the part that actually got to me. “I’ve been getting self-care all wrong!” I thought. I’m good at scheduling monthly massages, facials and hair appointments. I’m great at retail therapy. I’m happy to reward myself with a few glasses of red wine and chunk of good dark chocolate after a long day. I’m all about that kind of self care- but let’s call a spade a spade- this borderlines on overindulgence at times.
But self-care isn’t just about massages and dessert. It’s about taking care of your physical and emotional body. Proper nutrition. Sleep. Music. Learning what makes you happy. Friendship. Family. Being outdoors. Our pets. The list goes on.
We discussed all of these. And if I must digress, I was blown away at the intensity that the “nutrition” discussion brought up. I shouldn’t have been surprised- I work at an eating disorders hospital. I know how people are about food. But even in a roomful of yogis, the judgments started flying as soon as our teacher stated that one did not have to be a vegetarian to have a yoga practice. That we need to listen to what our bodies are requesting, and respect our body’s intuition. That every body is different and has different nutritional needs. That the first yama (one limb of yoga) is ahimsa- the practice of non-violence. And that first means treating yourself with compassion and non-violence. Eating what your body asks for.
[This is where the JudgeMcJudgersons came out in full force. You know what I’m talking about. I will reserve my comments about this because, frankly, I’m practicing the art of being non-judgmental myself….. but really, for the love of God, people, stop giving vegetarians and vegans a bad name by being all preachy and holier-than-thou. I had to bite my tongue several times in this heated discussion. Let’s just agree that the more plant-based foods you incorporate in your diet, the better for your body and the planet. But after that, eat what your body asks for and practice moderation and balance. We’re only humans, after all.]
But I digress.
After our lecture about the actual practice of self-care, we were led through a yummy restorative yoga flow. I came home more calm. I actually decided to practice self-care by pouring myself a glass of sparkling water, not wine. I ate some dates, not some dark chocolate.
Because self-care doesn’t always mean overindulgence. It’s about being KIND and COMPASSIONATE to your true self- both as a physical body, and as a sacred soul.
So go forth this week and show yourself a little bit of love and respect. Go ahead. Whether it’s a green smoothie, a good book or a glass of Malbec with friends. Treat yourself well. You have my blessing.