Lately, I've been easing into slow + strong and restorative yoga. When I first started yoga, I was all about power yoga. It was my 'cross-training' on my days off from running, and while I got a good stretch in my legs, it was anything but a break for the many miles I was running. Now, I crave movement where I can just connect and feel into my body. Especially in cozy, candle-lit yoga classes or small morning classes. I've been craving classes that are a mix of flow and yin (restorative) yoga.
We start off with a strong, energizing flow. Not necessarily fast - just strong and slow. Don't underestimate the strength required to go slow and stay in poses - to the point of feeling discomfort. That's where you build the strength rather than always flowing fast.
Moving with breath and easing into poses. Feeling my strength and power.
Then, we slow things down. Allow gravity and the grounding power of the earth to take over. To let go and relax in poses into a sweet surrender. I gave myself permission to let go instead of trying to control grasp. To feel supported by the earth and a comfy yoga bolster. To feel grounded and held by the earth. To be vulnerable and open. This is where I feel comfortable in my body. When I can be with myself without judgment and feel everything my body does for me on a moment to moment basis.
Too often, we say YES to others' needs, favors, and requests. I know - I tend to be a people pleaser and feel a twinge of guilt when I say no. Yet, saying YES to ourselves first is the best thing you can do. You need to prioritize your needs and self-care to show up in the world better. You need to love yourself first to have love to give to others.
Your relationship with yourself should be as intimate and deep as your relationships with your friends and family.
Are you comfortable being fully present with just yourself? Full presence - not distracting yourself with music while driving, your phone while working, or the constant social media check. How often do you take time to just BE rather than DOING something. To feel your body and emotions without judgment.
What would it be like if you had a daily self-care practice?
Just time with yourself. Listening to your needs, desires, and your body. Notice what's going on in your body, mind, feelings, and soul. Noticing the sensation of being present in your body rather than living from your head. Notice the breath traveling into the chest and belly. Expanding and contracting.
When I was fully relaxed near the end of class, I could feel my body pulsing. My skin was sensitive to touch and sensation. When I am fully in my body, my body fills up with pleasure and sensation. It's not something I have to find from outside of me - like chocolate or sweets. It's within me, all the time. Even feelings like pleasure can be intense, but when you give yourself permission to feel good, you fill yourself up and experience bliss.
All I have to do is be present and in my body. While a candle-lit yoga class with comforting hands-on assists (with essential oils!) is an amazing time to be embodied, my intention is to spend more of the other 23 hours of the day in this space too. To hold space for my intentions, desires, and my power. To have self-care time to fill myself up rather than seeking external satisfaction.
I can choose to do quick check-ins a few times a day.
To step away from work for a moment, close my eyes, and breathe. Instead of doing the constant phone checking, I can check in with my body.
Am I tensing up? What do I feel in my body? Do I feel tight, open, sore, tired? Is there heat in my body? Where can I breathe into or relax?
I can check in with my mind. What thoughts are repeating in my mind? What is my focus?
I can check in with my feelings and emotions. What am I feeling in this moment? Just giving a name to a handful of feelings is all I need to do, without judging them. Am I feeling content, open, tired, anxious, sad, grounded, spacey, upset, grateful, joy...? We spend too much time thinking rather than feeling.
I can check in with my intuition. What is my gut feeling about any decisions? Instead of making rational, logical decisions from the mind, I can check in with what my body is saying. What do I need to hear? Listen to? Do? If I'm making a decision, I like to close my eyes and check if my body is expanding or tensing. Your intuition may not make any sense at all, but it's your body's gut feeling and connection with your inner self. Journaling is another way to get in touch with your intuition as well.
End your self-care time - whether it's meditation, journaling, yoga, or a walk - with a 'savasana' of sorts. Time to express gratitude to your body and yourself. Time to start again, no matter what's going on in your day or life at this time. End your time however you want - namaste in prayer pose, setting an intention, or literally wrapping your arms around yourself for a hug. Close your practice out, but carry what you learn with you during the rest of the day.
Check-in with yourself throughout the day. Be present. Be in your body. Notice how it fills you up from within.
This is a daily practice. It's not always easy, it may be intense, but it's worth it.
With love, Lauren
I'd love to hear from you in the comments!
- How can you 'be in your body more?'
- When can you do check-ins with yourself?
- What's your favorite self-care practice?