Eight Self-care Practices Rooted in the Wisdom of Yoga and Ayurveda
As self-inquiry systems, Yoga and Ayurveda provide a multitude of self-care practices to enhance our life. Here are eight of my favourites:
Massaging our Feet
With 28 bones, 30 joints and more than 100 muscles, ligaments and tendons, our feet are phenomenal structures that provide stability, balance and support. Plus, the feet hold energetic points linked to almost every part of the body.
You can do it in the morning or in the evening before bed.
- You will need oil; I alternate between jojoba, almond, castor and sesame oil and an essential oil (optional). For this purpose, my favourite morning essential oils are sweet orange or geranium and I use lemon, frankincense or lavender in the evening. There are of course more essential oils that would be suitable. Make sure you’re not allergic before using it on your skin.
- All you need is 2 tbsp of your favourite oil mixed with one or two drops of essential oil.
- To begin, clean your feet and then massage the feet with the oil using circular motions. Start with the sole, then move to the ankle, top of the foot and then to the toes, massaging each toe from base to tip.
- This can be a patient ritual where you spend 5 to ten minutes on each foot. Most of the time, I spend a minute or two and still benefit from the practice.
According to yogic science, our hands are the organ of action of the heart centre. There is a tremendous amount of energy that resides in our hands and using them mindfully for self-care, energizes the body and mind. An easy way to do this is by moisturizing. Plus, we get the added benefit of moisturized skin.
You can do it before or after your shower. If you choose before, it’s good to use an oil such as sesame or coconut oil and to really massage the oil in the skin before going in the shower. If you’re doing it after your shower, keep a little water on your skin and mindfully moisturize your body. If you’re a reiki practitioner or energy healer use it on yourself as you moisturize and/or if you have a mantra or a positive affirmation, mentally repeat it while you moisturize. As long as the method feels good to you, it is good.
Free Flow Dancing
Many of us practice yoga asanas and a variety of sports where we’re taught how to position our body for optimal results. This is good but it is even better if we allow for free flow and playful movement.
Play your favourite song and dance! It takes 3 to 5 minutes and it feels so good!
As we know, if we eat until we’re full to the top we feel depleted by what was meant to provide energy. If we keep eating after were full we feel even worse. The same is true with our schedule. We need space and time. Learning/choosing to leave a little space between things allows for integration and digestion of our experiences is very energizing!
- Learn to say no.
- See space/emptiness between things as something valuable.
Laughing: Our Universal Language
Why? Because laughing feels good. Plus, it’s a great ab workout!
Spend time with someone who makes you laugh.
Eating Good Food
The more we read about food choices the more confused we become. For every theory, there is a counter theory. That’s why we need to use common sense and stop following all the new trends.
I believe in the following:
- 80% of our diet is good food – 20% is life;
- Choosing whole food (whole food is an ingredient – it does not have ingredients);
- Avoiding processed foods;
- Tasting all flavors – sweet, salty, bitter, sour, astringent and pungent;
- Sitting and enjoying our meal;
- Keeping our food choices simple;
- Being aware of the seasons and eating accordingly (soups in the winter, salads in the summer);
- Making lunch the largest meal and keeping dinner light;
- Eating until we’re 80% full; and
- Aligning our food choices with our values.
Asana, Pranayama, Meditation, Journaling and Relaxation
Attend class once or twice a week or develop a home practice that meets your needs. Remember that a twenty minute daily practice is quite powerful. But as always, don’t take my word for it. Try it out and see what happens.
This is a common yoga/meditation joke but there is so much truth to it.
If you don’t have twenty minutes a day for home practice or a couple of hours week to attend class, then I suggest you start taking at least 1-hour a day for yoga because you probably really need it!
We can do this by:
- Reflecting on what makes us feel alive and ensuring we include it in our day-to-day;
- Acknowledging what we have already manifested, as so much of it was once an aspiration; and
- Remembering to see the extraordinary in the ordinary.
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