This mental health advocate shares her journey toward health.
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There’s always something to worry about. Whether it’s our career, relationships, dating or trauma, we go through moments that bombard us with negative thoughts that can make us feel anxious and stressed. Our worries may often define our choices, our view of the world, or ourselves. This doesn’t mean they are faults, flaws or downfalls—we just need to practice managing them in a healthy way, placing deserved value on self-care. Yoga is only one connection.
My yoga practice hasn’t cured anything, but it has strengthened my ability to overcome challenging life events, body confidence issues, and has vastly improved my physical and emotional health. There is no perfection in yoga; there is no pressure to be anything or anyone other than who you are in the moment of a pose.
Here are seven yoga poses that help my mind and body when I am experiencing anxiety, depression or overall stress:
This is a pose of rest and comfort, bringing your heart close to the Earth. I often prefer to engage this pose with *palms up* as an offering of surrender. When doing so, I feel that I can give my fear, hurt, pain, sorrow, negativity, etc. to the universe.
This pose is a simple way to relax both easily and quickly. We walk around each day carrying our weight with our legs and feet. To lie back with our legs up the wall, we can rest and release tension.
My go-to pose anywhere I am, at any time (especially work), is a forward fold. When I find myself tense from sitting in a chair or staring at a computer screen for too long, I like to walk away, fold forward and for just a few moments, let my whole body be loose.
One of my favorite poses for as long as I’ve been practicing yoga is Pigeon Pose. When I first started practicing Vinyasa, a fantastic instructor taught me about how we carry our emotions in our hips. Considering my hips tend to become stiff when I’m feeling emotional or heartbroken, this made total sense.
This pose makes me feel beautiful and strong, not just physically but mentally. Next time you want to release some frustration by challenging yourself a bit, flip your downward dog pose and raise an arm to the sky in praise for your body and your battles.
In addition to my hips, I also find my lower back gathers stress. Supporting yourself in bridge with a block is an easy way to instantly feel supported while also applying a bit of pressure to a sore lower back for relief.
Because sometimes you just need to lie flat on the ground, arms and legs wide, and let it all go.
While yoga alone isn’t a cure-all for anxiety, these poses are an important part of nurturing your body and mind. Whether you’re at home, outside or in the studio, be mindful of these moves and cultivate your sense of calm.
When you think of self-love what do you think of? Bubble baths, walks on the beach, facemasks, or what? Self-love can mean so many different things but when we think about self-love, we have to acknowledge loving ourselves both on the outside and on the inside. The way that we show ourselves love is one of the most important things we will ever do.
How do we treat ourselves? How do we talk to ourselves? What foods are we putting into our bodies? How are we thinking about our overall well-being when practicing self-love?
As self-love defines and redefined itself for you over the years, here are a few foundational tips to think about when easing into your self-love journey.
Don’t we love this one? Loving ourselves has a lot to do with the boundaries that we have for ourselves, with others, and for others. Take time to think about your own emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual needs when setting boundaries that reflect your personal needs. Boundaries don’t have to be big and scary; they are here to remind us that you get to have your lived experience and still have expectations about how you’d like to be treated and what you’d like to feel.
When thinking about your boundaries, ask yourself:
In a world where perfectionism and curated existences have been rewarded, begin to cultivate compassion for yourself. You are a soul having a human experience and it’s totally okay if things are not perfect.
Mindfulness exercises such as Breathwork, self-care activities, and self-compassion, all help train the mind, emotions, and even the body’s stress chemicals to be able to deal with undesired situations. Self-compassion means, can you be nice to yourself? Can you find empathy and kindness for yourself in the middle of what feels chaotic, stressful, or unwanted? Self-compassion means that we get to make mistakes, have our plans not work out the way that we wanted, and we still get to celebrate that we are doing the best that we can and it is enough.
When thinking about self-compassion, ask yourself:
In every sense of the word “nourishment”, begin to learn what nourishes you and what depletes you. Nourishment doesn’t just mean food for yourself; it means that whatever you are consuming whether it be media, podcasts, people, energy, information, etc. all impact the way that we think, feel, and experience life.
Nourishing yourself definitely goes right along the lines of having your boundaries intact and practicing self-compassion.
When thinking about nourishment, ask yourself:
That’s it. Those are the foundational steps to cultivating a self-love practice that you can ease into your daily routine. Come back to these questions often, because like anything else, self-love is a practice and it takes effort, time, and intention to maintain.