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Yoga and Meditation for Self-Care

Yoga and Meditation for Self-Care

It took me until I was 40 years old to really understand the importance of self care. I meet women every day who understate the importance of taking care of themselves. It’s tough when we are raising a family. I believe we can balance giving of ourselves with giving to ourselves, because in the long run, we keep ourselves in a better place to give.
There are many different ways to practice self-care, from basic activities like taking a bath and going for a walk, to doing things that you need for your mental health, like learning how to say no to people and focusing more on your own goals. Sometimes, saying no to others and yes to ourselves can be the hardest thing.
Self-care really does cover a lot of different things, but the most important aspect is doing more for yourself to improve your mental and physical health.
Two excellent ways to practice self-care that are good for both physical and emotional health are yoga and meditation. These can be done separately or during the same morning or nighttime routine each day.
Keep reading to learn more about yoga and meditation and how they can help on your self-care journey.

What is Self-Care?

A good place to start is learning more about what self-care is and isn’t, and understanding the benefits of introducing it into your life.
Defining Self-Care
Self-care is one of those things that can have a lot of definitions, based on the common principle. The basics of self-care is that you do an activity for yourself. It might help you physically, such as with exercise or going for a walk, other activities combine physical, mental, and even emotional benefits.
In other cases, self-care is something you do deliberately to help your mental health and overall wellness, from telling people no to learning how to delegate and understanding why being overworked isn’t good for you. There is no badge of honor in continually pouring from an empty cup. It doesn’t benefit the giver or receiver.
It really can be anything you want or need it to be, but it all starts with deliberately doing things, starting routines, changing your habits, and making choices for yourself.

Common Self-Care Misconceptions

On the other hand, there are some things people often mistake for self-care, which might not be bad for you, but doesn’t really fit into this spectrum of doing something good for you. Here are a few things that should not be considered self-care:
Activities you force yourself to do – When looking at different types of activities for self-care, remember that they should never be forced. While you might see meditation as a good self-care activity, if you feel like you are forcing yourself to do it every day, it is no longer benefiting you.

Participating in something you don’t enjoy – A similar misconception is that self-care activities aren’t always enjoyable. This is absolutely not true. Sure, physical activities are good for your physical health, but they are not considered good for your self-care and mental health if you hate doing them. Find something else you actually enjoy.
Something selfish – This is more of a concept as opposed to something you are doing or not doing. Self-care should not be confused with selfish acts. These are not the same thing. Self-care is about doing something for yourself that is healthy and good for you, but not painful or damaging to someone or something else.

Think about the fact that if you don’t take of yourself first, you can’t be there for other people. This is the same concept behind putting on your own mask in an airplane emergency, before your child’s. You can’t help your child if you are not there.

Benefits of Self-Care

One more thing to understand before moving onto yoga and meditation for self-care is that there are many benefits to it. Here are some of the top reasons why self-care is important:

It Improves Your Self-Esteem – When you practice more self-care, you automatically boost your self-esteem and self-confidence. It gives you more time to focus on yourself, improving your physical and mental health. This in turn can give you natural confidence, knowing you are doing everything you can to improve your own life.
You Have Better Productivity – Why not boost your productivity as well? If you have been neglecting your own needs, it can hurt you in the long run. You might notice a lack of focus and concentration as you begin getting over-stressed, and continue with the demands of everyday life. Try some self-care activities like yoga or meditation to get back on track and improve your productivity.

It Gives You the Opportunity to Give More – Another side effect (in a good way) of self-care, is that it gives you the opportunity to give more to others. People are sometimes under the misconception that self-care is a selfish act, when in fact it is quite the opposite. If you are not healthy, fatigued, or overwhelmed, you are not in a good place to help others.

However, when you start practicing self-care more often, you are then in a good place to help others. If more people practiced self-care, it would do the world a lot of good.

You Can Improve Your Physical Health – Many self-care activities are also good for your physical health. Think about activities like walking or hiking, doing yoga, and eating a healthier diet. These are common self-care recommendations that will help your physical health just as much your emotional or mental health.
It is Great for Mental Health – And of course self-care is great for your mental health as well. It can reduce anxiety and depression, help with your stress levels, and help you feel better as a whole.

Yoga for Self-Care

The first practice we want to talk about for self-care is yoga. You probably have an idea of what yoga is, and you might have even taken a class or done some poses at home. This is a great start, but there might be more benefits to doing yoga than you have imagined.
Here are some things to know about yoga, including reasons to do them specifically for self-care.

Yoga Gives You Time to Yourself

First of all, if you are looking to do more activities on your own to give your mind a little break from your hectic life, yoga is perfect for that. By committing to doing yoga daily or at least on a regular basis, you can tell your family that you want this time to work on your yoga alone. You may want to do it in your own home or by taking an outside class.

Some people benefit by going to yoga classes with their friends and getting to know likeminded people, and this can be amazing for you. Just remember your main purpose is self-care, so keep that in mind when deciding what the best decision is for you.

It Can Be Done in Any Length of Time

Another reason to start practicing yoga for self-care is that you can do it any length of time. While classes are often 30-60 minutes, that doesn’t mean you have to do a complete class every time.
Once you learn some of the basic moves and stretches, you can do yoga just about anywhere, and in any circumstance. If you have a few minutes before needing to leave work for the day, close your office door and do some office yoga. You can fit it in while dinner is cooking, early in the morning, or over the weekend.

Try Yoga in a Class or at Home

Also remember that there is no one-size-fits-all yoga method. There are not only different places to do yoga, but different types of yoga as well. If you are brand new to yoga, taking a class is recommended, but not required.
There are classes you can do at home with a DVD or online, or you can get a book that shows the different yoga poses and important breathing techniques.
You may also want to try different types of yoga, such as:

Hatha yoga
Gentle stretch yoga
Hot yoga (my current favorite)
Aerial yoga
Online yoga
Relieve Stress and Anxiety

Are you struggling with stress and anxiety? This is a common thing people deal with, which can really affect every facet of your life. Instead of looking to pills and other medical remedies, why not first try something natural like yoga? It is amazing for self-care, and will help to reduce anxiety and stress at the same time.

Improve Physical and Mental Health

Through yoga, you are going to learn how to calm your mind and release negative energy, find clarity, and improve your stress and other mental health conditions. It is also wonderful on a physical level, toning and lengthening your body, improving your flexibility, and strengthening your muscles.

There aren’t many reasons NOT to do yoga, and a lot of reasons to do it. Keep reminding yourself that you want to do it for self-care, and you will be encouraged to make it a part of your regular routine.

Meditation for Self-Care

The next activity or practice that can help tremendously with your self-care journey is meditation. You can do this as part of a routine with yoga, or on its own. Meditation takes practice, just like yoga, but what you gain is absolutely astonishing.

How Does Meditation Work?

With meditation, you are working on breathing exercises and guided visualizations that allow you to clear your mind. This reduces your worries and stress and gives you moments of clarity. By meditating, you are pushing out the negative energy and negative thoughts in your mind to leave room for more positive thoughts.

There are different types of meditation as you will learn below, each of which provides a different set of benefits.

Different Types of Meditation

Here are some of the top forms of meditation:

Basic/Breathing Meditation – First up is the main form of meditation, where you practice your deep breathing exercises. This is often done sitting in a quiet and comfortable position with your eyes closed. All you are going to do is take deep breaths in and out, focusing on the inhaling and exhaling. Focus on your breath, the feeling of your chest moving up and down, and nothing else. When you focus only on your breathing, it helps to clear those nagging thoughts from your mind.
Guided Visualization – You may be someone who benefits more from a guided visualization. This can be done through a guided meditation where you listen to a recording of someone helping you along the imagery, or you can create the visualization on your own. It is great for beginners because when you listed to a guided mediation, a lot of the work is done for you as far as what to picture and how to go through the steps.
Mindfulness Meditation – Lastly, we highly recommend trying mindfulness meditation. You are going to be extremely aware of everything happening in the current moment. Turn off distractions and focus on sights, smells, and sounds around you. Look at your surroundings, understand what is happening right at this moment, and continue focusing on it.
Benefits of Meditation for Self-Care
Meditation is not only good for general health and wellness, but particularly useful as a self-care activity. It will give you some time to yourself, help reduce stress or anxiety from your hectic life, and can become part of your daily self-care routine.
Tips for Success
Before we end this information, let’s go over a few more tips to be successful with meditation for self-care.
Schedule meditation on a daily basis – In the beginning, meditation takes a lot of practice, so you want to do it often, preferably once or even more than once a day. If you struggle with motivation, schedule your meditation times for when you know you will be alone or can shut a door in your home to keep out distractions.
Start with just a few minutes a day – Don’t stress about having to meditate for an hour right from the beginning. Start with 1-3 minute sessions that you time, so that you can get in your practice without becoming frustrated or overwhelmed with it. I put a timer on and turn everything else off.
Incorporate music or sounds – Another method you can use is using sounds or even soft music in the background to help you re-focus your attention.
Turn it into a daily routine – Finally, making a routine out of it can be useful and help motivate you to continue with it. If you are also doing yoga, why not combine them?