I’ve started asking a really specific question to women who come to me to talk about self-care.
Most of us understand that there are often psychological blocks to taking care of ourselves – a fear of being seen as selfish, for example (yup, I know that one very well).
But for many of the women I speak to, there is a really basic, practical issue at hand.
They don’t know HOW to self-care. They haven’t thought much about it, they haven’t learnt about it and so even if the intention is there, they literally don’t know what to do.
Does this sound like you?
Do you know HOW to nurture yourself, truly and fully?
One of the BEST ways I know to care for myself is through Restorative Yoga.
We all know how to push and sweat and work hard. But Restorative Yoga, in its radical gentleness and invitation to let go, provides the environment and ingredients for far more powerful breakthroughs than pushing a little harder and getting a little sweatier ever will.
I’m not against yoga for strengthening; I love to feel strong and lean, I love to go upside down, I love to have the ability to play and explore physically. But for a society addicted to pushing, addicted to goalposts, addicted to accolades… there’s nothing more pattern-shifting than getting OK with ‘doing nothing’ for 20 minutes a day.
And here’s the awesome thing – you’re not doing nothing!!! When you FINALLY stop doing doing doing, your body finally, gratefully, has a chance to do what it knows how to do – heal. All of our bodies have an inbuilt healing mechanism. You cut your knee, it heals. You get a sore throat, you heal. Your body knows how to heal itself. If…. you let it.
When you are in go-go-go mode, your body’s sympathetic nervous system is switched on – most people know this as fight or flight. If you need coffee to wake up in the morning and wine to go to sleep at night you are almost definitely in fight or flight mode as your normal state of being.
It may be normal. It may feel normal. But it’s not natural. All your energy is away from your vital organs, directed to your extremities so you can fight that bear or run from the invading marauder. Except that… there is no bear.
When you relax, you turn on your body’s parasympathetic nervous system, when your body can do what actually IS natural, which is the deep inner work of healing.
So, if you need a justification for why doing ‘nothing’ is actually doing something really important – there you go.
And if you’re the kind of person who normally wouldn’t do anything that didn’t have some kind of productive reason behind it, someone who schedules their day from morning til night.. give this a go… just as an experiment… and see how your life changes.
Click here to tweet: “Doing ‘nothing’ is the most important part of your day!” – @KateWolfTweets
Here is one of my FAVOURITE Restorative poses for you – and it’s no coincidence that it’s also one of the simplest. Sometimes simple is sooooo good!
Sanskrit name: Viparita Karani
How to: The clue’s in the name, for the simple answer is… get your legs up the wall! Your hands can be resting on your belly, out to the sides or above your head – whichever is most relaxing for you.
.. but if you wanna get eeeeven more comfy, here are some options:
- ~ Blanket under the head
- ~ Blanket under your pelvis (or even a low block if that’s comfortable for your lower back)
- ~ Tie a yoga strap around both calves and/or both thighs
- ~ Place a bolster or sandbag on the tops of your feet
- ~ Use an eye pillow
In the pose: Feel the fluid and tension draining out of your legs. Feel your back supported by the floor… let your back feel heavy. Let your awareness rest on the breath. Feel your belly gently rising as you inhale, and softening as you exhale.
Benefits: This pose elevates your legs so the blood and lymph fluid can run down and out of tired feet, ankles and legs, reducing swelling and fatigue. It also improves your circulatory system and is sooo refreshing!
Get creative! During last year’s Self-Care challenge, one of the participants took her yoga mat into the shower room at work and did viparita karani! She had previously said she had ‘no time’ for self-care.. but she found some and made amazing use of it.
Over to you
I believe that in this busy world of go-go-go, taking time out, to not just slow down, but actually stop, is truly a radical act. You are more – so much more – than what you get done in a day. Make time for yourself this week and do NOTHING!
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Katherine I really like your article. Self-care is super important and many people have so much on their to do lists, yet everything but self-care. Exercises much like the ones in your article help to raise self-awareness which promotes a better body, mind, spirit balance leading to a better quality of life. Excellent article 🙂