Yoga, Self Care & What I Know For sure
It seems as though self-care has been the catch phrase of 2019. Whether it has to do with taking time off to go on vacation, taking a coffee break to catch up with a friend, or carving out time for massage, sometimes it’s really tough to find any moments of rest or reprieve between our ongoing to-do lists. Often times we are more focused on filling up our schedules with activities to keep everyone busy, rather than de-cluttering our time to make space for a walk, a nap, drinking a full glass of water or enjoying a every bite of a deliciously prepared meal.
A large influence on the “self-care” bandwagon has been due to the influence of social media in and around our lives. Whether it is part of our business to stay relevant on facebook, how many likes we get on instagram or how up to date we are on our politics via twitter, these are all avenues that eat up minutes or hours of our precious time.
Three things that I have helped me create a way of self-care that helps me find balance in my life are a healthy sleep routine, a daily loving kindness meditation and a routine yoga/movement practice. I’ve cultivated these habits throughout the years, which have helped me create a care package of sorts for myself. The daily rituals allow me to keep a balance between the commitments work, life, friends, family, fiancé and most importantly the relationship I have with myself.
I’d like to tell you how yoga found me and why it’s been a game changer in my self-care on an ongoing basis.
The first time I ever found my way onto a yoga mat was when I was 19 years old. It was during a transition from organized dance and the beginning of my university studies. I had to find something to do to move my body in a healthy and positive way. From that very first yoga class at Moksha Yoga (now Modo Yoga), to today I can honestly say that yoga has been the most constant means of active self-care I have in my life. It has become more than just a workout or a way to release endorphins; it has become a way in which I live my life day to day. It has shaped my life choices, my career path and continues to have a profound impact on my relationships. It is something I do for myself and yet it has the most dramatic effect on how I interact with those around me.
Moving through asana (physical yoga postures and shapes) in a conscious way along with my breath allows me to SLOW DOWN, be in the moment and sync up my brain and my body. Linking the breath to movement IS the yoga, no matter what the poses look like. I often hear from students or patients, “but I’m not flexible, I’m so bad at yoga”… if this is keeping your from a yoga mat near you, STOP letting it get in the way! Yoga IS for you! It really doesn’t matter how the pose looks, appears it, or if you’re even balanced in tree pose at all. What does matters is how fluid your breath moves in and around the shape of your body. THIS is the yoga, the ability to guide your awareness inwards to breathe mindfully, letting your body open up, becoming more mobile in the muscles, joints and connective tissues that create your physical make up.
Some days my yoga practice looks like a full 75-minute class on my mat in the hot room at Modo, other times it looks like a 5-minute loving kindness meditation on my cushion beside my bed, or on those days where it feels like time can’t stand still its 6 full expansive breaths in my car before I step into my office for the day. This self-care practice of healthy sleep, meditation and yoga didn’t happen overnight, it has been an active choice to choose my well-being every single day in some small way or another. This has taken me a decade to hone in on, slowly but surely gathering more tools to add to my ever-growing toolbox of self-care. I’ve have done many extensive and intensive trainings that have taken me way out of my comfort zones to find more awareness of myself, facing some uncomfortable feelings and undoubtedly coming out the other end a lighter more resilient human.
What I know for sure (to quote my favourite inspirational boss lady, Oprah), is that whatever your yoga is, whatever it is that gives you a safe space to grow and heal find it and spend time cultivating it daily.
In good health,
Dr. Madolyn Linka
Dr. Madolyn Linka