Sustainable Self Care: A Holistic Yoga Therapy Approach to Looking After YourselfJun 24, 2023
June 24th marks the start of Self-Care Month, which ends with Self-Care Day on July 24. This symbolic day was chosen because self-care can be practiced “24 hours a day/7 days a week”.
What is self care?
While we often hear "self-care" thrown around along with images of wine glasses and tubs filled with bubbles, or expensive spa retreats, the World Health Organization defines self-care as individuals, families and communities’ promoting and maintaining their own health, preventing disease, and coping with illness and disability, with or without the support of a health worker. Self-care is about restoring your power to be an active agent, and at the centre of your healthcare - whatever it looks like for you.
In theory, it is supposed to give you choices and options to access healthcare wherever and whenever you want to by enhancing available systems as a holistic approach. Yoga therapy fits perfectly within self-care as a holistic healing art that provides straightforward, accessible practices you can use throughout the day to stay grounded, feel whole, and focus on whatever you need to get done.
Eight dimensions of wellbeing
Dr. Peggy Swarbick at Rutgers University defines wellness as a conscious, deliberate process that requires a person to become aware of and make choices for a more satisfying lifestyle. Her ‘8 Dimensions’ model gives us a strengths focused way of thinking about has been used to craft an effective framework for the pursuit of wellness that can help build practices, habits, rituals and routines that can ensure we take care of ourselves in sustainable ways. The model includes 8 adjacent, and overlapping dimensions that impact each other both positively and negatively. They are:
How you look after yourself in each dimension does not have to be equally balanced. For a truly sustainable approach to self-care, consider your priorities, approaches, and aspirations, including what it means to live life fully and with purpose that feels authentic to you.
Making the right choices for health and well-being can be challenging. Although you already know what is good for you and how you can do — and be — better, you might not act on it, or if you do, you may, in due course, slide back to familiar ways. Human behavior — what we do, how we do it, and whether we will succeed — is influenced by many factors, 2 of which are of particular relevance when it comes to wellness: self-regulation and habits.
Working with an accredited yoga therapist can help strengthen your ability to direct your behaviour and manage impulses so that you can achieve your goals, or reach your ideals by acting in your short- and long-term best interests, consistent with our deepest values. We can also help transform habits that are no longer serving you into rituals that restore your wellbeing. Schedule your free no obligation call now and we can explore working together to restore your energy and focus so you can achieve your goals.
The 8 limbs of yoga provide a useful complementary set of practices to the 8 dimensions of wellbeing, such that a thought practice of mindful movement, attentive breathwork, meditation, ethical and value based actions provide a set of self-care actions that you can take every day to look after yourself well.
Here are 8 therapeutic yoga practices you can explore implementing to support your sustainable self-care rituals.
Yoga therapy for sustainable self care
This can look like maintaining a consistent accessible personal yoga asana practice to care for your body to stay healthy now and in the future. However, if you are in pain, it may include practices like deep rest and oil application to help manage pain, before adding gentle asana to restore joint mobility across all ranges and plains of motion. Once you have your flexibility and mobility back, your yoga therapist can help adapt your practice to ensure you strengthen and prevent further injury.
To maintain your emotional wellbeing, the yogic practice of svadhyaya, or self-study including mindful pausing and reflection can help you understand and respect your feelings, values, and attitudes. Building this capacity can also help you manage your emotions in a constructive way, and over time can build your capacity for eudaimonia - the Greek philosophical ideal of living well. Practices like like ahimsa, or non-harming, and aparigraha or generosity can support your appreciation of the feelings of others.
The yogic practice of svadhyaya, or self-study is the key supporting practice to helps you grow intellectually, maintain curiosity about all there is to learn, value lifelong learning, and respond positively to intellectual challenges. This deliberate practice of observation and reflection without judgement combined with satya or truthfulness, asteya or non stealing and tapas, or discipline can help you expand your knowledge and skills while discovering the potential for sharing your gifts with others.
Different than a formal religious practice, the yogic practice of isvara-pranidhan, or surrender to something greater than the self, can help you find purpose, value, and meaning in your life. You can choose to explore practices like pratyahara, or inward focus to tap into your universal divine nature, or seek to explore the ideas of yoga philosophy in sat-sangha or a community that explores the nature of our true Self depending on what aligns with your beliefs and values.
Yogic practices of svadhyaya or self study, combined with ahimsa or non-harming, satya or truthfulness and santosa or contentedness can help deepen your understanding how your social, natural, and built environments affect your health and well-being. They may also support your reflection and awareness of the unstable state of the earth and the effects of your daily habits on the physical environment. Over time, you may find yourself moved to take action that demonstrates your commitment to a healthy planet for all of us.
Practices like pranayama or mindful breath regulation can help restore your nervous system from flight/flight/freeze/please states to one where you can be be present to maintain healthy relationships, enjoy being with others, develop friendships and intimate relations, care about others, and let others care about you. In combination with the yamas or ethical practices that guide relationships with those around you, over time you'll find yourself better positioned to contribute to the wellbeing of your community.
Yogic practices of svadhyaya or self study, combined with ahimsa or non-harming, satya or truthfulness, tapas or discipline and santosa or contentedness can help you prepare for and participate in work that provides personal satisfaction and life enrichment that is consistent with your values, goals, and lifestyle. Ishvara-pranidhan or surrendering can support you as you contribute your unique gifts, skills, and talents to work that is personally meaningful and rewarding without attachment to the results, for a greater sense of purpose and satisfaction.
Yogic practices of svadhyaya or self study, ahimsa, or non-harming, and aparigraha or generosity can help you manage your resources to live within your means, make informed financial decisions and investments, set realistic goals, and prepare for short-term and long-term needs or emergencies.
Learn more about how you can start building these rituals into your day-to-day so you can sustainably take care of yourself, and those around you in ways that relieve pain and improving your quality of life. They will help you reconnect with your body, breath and mind so you can achieve your goals and feel your best.
Feel more energized, focused and mindful.
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