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3 Ways Yoga can help with Self-Care

There are a number of different ways to practice self-care. You may find that some self-care acts are easier to engage with, whereas some other concepts might be much harder to embrace and not really work for you in the long-term.

Today I want to 3 ways a regular yoga practice can double up as a serious self-care act and have amazing benefits for you and your life.

Yoga Boosts your Mood

Exercise is a fantastic tool for people who experience depression or anxiety. It can help to get those wonderful endorphins flowing around your body, whilst also giving you a sense of accomplishment – both of which can be fantastic for your mental health!

If you do not struggle with depression or anxiety, but do sometimes find that your mood is low, then exercise can truly be a great pick-me-up.

On those days when you are feeling low, then it can be difficult to motivate yourself to exercise, or perhaps even do much at all. Pushing through these feelings and engaging in a physical act of self-care, such as going to a yoga class or hitting the gym, can help you to move through these feelings. This makes it much more likely that you will end the day on a positive note with brighter thoughts about the following day!

Yoga helps you Relax – it’s science

The parasympathetic nervous system is largely responsible for how calm and relaxed we feel. This is just one part of the autonomic nervous system, and works opposite to the fight or flight response we get from the activation of the sympathetic nervous system.

When you active your parasympathetic nervous system, then your heart rate will start to decrease and your breathing becomes calmer. Also, blood is sent to the organs to aid with their function, and the body enters a state of relaxation.

Yoga helps us to slow down, create a sense of peace, and activates this rest and digest nervous system. This puts your body and your mind in a much better state to maintain calm, and to deal with any stresses that we have to navigate later during that day.

I don’t know about you, but those around me can certainly tell the difference between ‘relaxed me’ and ‘chaotic me’. And the latter of these two states is most likely to manifest when I haven’t made time for myself during each day – such as with a yoga session, regardless of how long or short this session is.

Not only can others clearly tell the difference, but I am also aware of the change in myself when I make the time to practice yoga daily. I feel happier, healthier, and also as though I’ve done something just for myself – which is a simple but effective form of self-care!

The way in which we live our lives often means that we are simply not living in the moment. We are worried about the past and stressed out about the future – when really what we should be doing is finding ways to live in the present moment.

When we stop to focus on what is happening in the here and now, instead of situations and circumstances beyond our control, then we are better able to stay present and to live a life that isn’t ruled by stress!

Using Yoga and Meditation for a Positive Mindset

Being able to maintain a positive and relaxed mindset is a practical skill that can be of benefit in many areas of your life. It isn’t difficult to let your responsibilities pile up, and seem as though they are totally on top of you. This can be quite an exhausting state to continue living within.

One of the incredible benefits of regularly practicing yoga is that it helps to encourage balance in your life. It does this in many ways, not least of all by naturally guiding you to a calmer state of mind.

As you probably already know, when you are calmer, you are able to make difficult decisions with greater ease. This state of mind also allows you to navigate complicated situations with finer clarity.

When you need to bring some peace and relaxation into your day, meditation can be a very effective tool in addition to yoga. With just a few short minutes of practice you can work towards restoring the natural balance of your body and promote a greater all-round sense of calm.

In the simple exercise that I am about to explain, we will focus on how important your breathing is to achieving an effective meditation practice.

It is absolutely normal for your mind to drift to other thoughts when you are meditating, and being able to re-focus yourself is very much dependant on your breathing. It is important not to give yourself a hard time when this happens and, instead, take another deep breath and concentrate on the flow of air coming in and out of your body.

So, to get started with this exercise you will first need to be seated in a comfortable position. You can then set yourself a gentle alarm for any amount of time you choose as long as it is longer than a few minutes.

The next step is to close your eyes and just continue to breathe normally for a few moments. You should then try to feel your breathing in your belly and focus on this thought for three breaths, in and out. After these three breaths, move your breathing focus up into your chest and breathe this way for three breaths, in and out. Repeat this sequence of breathing first in your belly and then in your chest until your alarm goes off to end your meditation.

 

Having additional support as you invite positive change into your life — such as learning how to nurture yourself through yoga — is a great way to stay on track.

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