We all need to remind ourselves the importance of practicing self-care. There are many rituals that provide us with the grounding tools we'll need when life becomes stressful, our immune systems breakdown, or we just need a little perspective.
As yoga teachers we spend a great deal of time caring for others, so it's important to remember that we care for ourselves too. In the best interest of our students (and ourselves!) there are simple strategies we can put in place to help ensure we are healthy, steady, strong, and ready to teach.
But whether you're a yoga teacher or not, these strategies can be applied to anyone. Here are four steps to cultivate a self-care journey that will uplift, empower, and enliven all aspects of your life — from yoga teacher to accountant, or even CEO.
1. Your best is good enough.
Adopt this mantra and whenever you feel self-doubt, stress, or fear — gently repeat to yourself, “My best is enough."
Life shifts and changes, some days flow smoothly whole on other days, our lives can become tangled in the unexpected. Our job is not to reinvent the wheel of yoga each time we teach. Our job is simply to let the yoga speak for itself. Prepare your sequences, consider your theme thoughtfully and share class from a present, honest place, and your students will thrive. And when in doubt, say to yourself, “My best is enough."
2. Practice self-compassion.
Three times a week, incorporate a loving-kindness meditation in your personal practice. Loving-kindness helps build compassion, ease tension, and create connection. If this is a new meditation for you, set aside 15 minutes. Call to mind someone you love, someone you feel neutral about, and then yourself. Spend five minutes sending the following phrases to each person: “May you be safe, may you be happy, may you be healthy, may you live with ease."
In the beginning you may find it challenging to send these compassionate phrases to yourself, but keep coming back to phrases and trust that the more you are able to care for yourself, the more you will be able to care for your students.
3. Create a support team.
Consider creating a support system that helps you remain balanced, healthy, and grounded. This might include a body worker or energy healer, acupuncturist, and possibly a therapist or life coach. We all need a voice outside of our heads and outside of our immediate circle of friends and loved ones who can be sounding boards that assist us in cultivating perspective.
These are people who can help reveal unseen patterns, habits, or roadblocks that once healed will help us grow as students and teachers.
4. Remember the difference between good vs. bad.
When we say we've had a "good" yoga practice or class, we miss the opportunity to express the finer details of what made the practice uplifting, powerful, and insightful. When we say we've had a "bad" practice, we miss the opportunity to explore expectations, preconceived notions, and concepts of comparison that might have interfered with the process at hand.
What if instead of using the labels "good" and "bad," we invited ourselves into a deeper conversation about the roadblocks, breakthroughs, and specifics that took place during a particular practice or class?
Take the next few days and remove the words good and bad from your vocabulary. Instead of simplifying your experience to these limited concepts, try expressing the specifics of what you experienced. This can apply to a yoga practice, an overall day, a particular conversation, or even a meal. Look closely at how your practice is a reflection of the work you're doing both on and off your mat, to create a powerful, meaningful life of connection, integrity, and presence.
Use these steps to spread the love you share in class to your own life. Know that your personal wellbeing is a foundation from which your relationships and career grow. Taking care of yourself first will only help you take better care of the world.