The confluence of two important events in my life revealed to me the importance of self care. They were: 6 years ago when my mother was diagnosed with terminal cancer; soon after I learned I was pregnant.
Sometimes that’s how life goes.
For 6 months I juggled teaching yoga full time (including leading teacher training), parenting a 4-year-old, and coordinating, as an only child, all the care for my dying mom --plus I was pregnant! I thought I was doing okay managing my grief and energy.
Then one evening I stumbled into a restorative yoga class. It was then I realized how much I was in need of self-care. My nervous system was fried. I was beyond tired. The deep calm and rest the class provided revealed a pressing need for self care.
The truth is we all need to take care of ourselves -- and on a regular basis before we find ourselves drained, exhausted, and depleted. We all tend to hold so much, and with the needs of friends, partners, children and work we often put ourselves last.
Your self-care Rx can be as unique as you and your needs. Find the things that nourish, replenish and satisfy YOU…and get started, don’t wait as I did until you’re depleted. These few self-care favorites of mine are satisfying whether you have 5 minutes or 2 hours:
* breathe…really breathe…even just for 5 minutes. Find a quiet place where you can sit comfortably, with legs relaxed and pelvis grounded. Sit tall so your spine is aligned without sinking or slouching. Close your eyes, take a few deep breaths. Pay attention to your inhalations and exhalations without controlling your breathing. Use your breath as the primary point of focus. Each time your mind wanders off (and it will!!) gently return your attention to your breath. Try this for 5 minutes, possible longer over time. Having the time to be still, quiet and relaxed will replenish you deeply.
* nourish… Enjoy your favorite comfort food (strive for a healthy version!)…or take yourself to lunch. Pick a spot that’s not too busy or frenetic. Eat something that’s nourishing, healthy and satisfying. And eat slowly, really enjoying your meal as it nourishes your body.
* move… Enjoy a walk in nature. A change of scenery and time in the fresh air, taking in the sounds and sights of nature, gets me out of the other activities of my day and provides me space to think, breathe and move my body.
* indulge… A massage is the ultimate in my self care book. Being touched is so good for the body but even more important for the nervous system. You can be gently moved from a stressful state to totally relaxation within minutes. If you can’t afford the cost or time of an hour+ massage, enjoy a 15-minute chair massage or ask a friend to rub your neck.
Whatever act of self care you chose, schedule it, show up for it, and don’t feel guilty about it. Take it in. Enjoy. Your calming and nourishing self-care moments will make you better at everything else you do.
About Nikki Estrada
Nikki Estrada has been in the yoga scene for more than twenty years. She leads workshops, teacher training and immersions nationwide. Nikki began her formal training in India, focusing on Ashtanga, a very physically challenging style of yoga. She is currently a senior yoga teacher and educator in the San Francisco Bay Area. Nikki's Vinyasa-based classes are a synthesis of her years of yogic and Ayurveda study and personal experience, with an emphasis on spirituality, intelligent alignment, meditation, and living life more joyfully. Her videos can be found on www.yogainternational.com. More information about Nikki can be found at www.nikkiestradayoga.com She resides in northern California with her husband and two daughters.