Tips on How to Incorporate Yoga for Self Care
So you've seen the AMAZING matrix-like postures on Instagram and the gym offers power yoga, yin yoga, restorative yoga, hatha yoga, vinyasa yoga, hot yoga, bikram, FORREST yoga (I'm sorry what is that?)…the list goes on! Confused much?
Ever had the thought, I haven't tried Yoga yet because I'm not flexible, so I'd be no good at it. OR I'm a little bit curvy so I feel like I wouldn't fit in at a yoga class. OR I'll need to become vegetarian/vegan and Hindu.
Hmm, seems marketing may have steered the definition of Yoga towards gravity defying postures and flexibility for slim people with a hint of religion. Is this REALLY Yoga? How can Yoga be used for Self-Care?
A very brief history of Yoga!
Yoga has been found to originate approximately 5000 years ago, in the Indus Valley (North India) from the Vedic teachings and culture. Vedic culture passed philosophical teachings verbally between student and teacher. These teachings were on how the mind works. The period that followed saw two Indian epic stories told, the Upanishads and the Bhagavad Gita.
These stories attempted to discuss what is the nature of our suffering and what can we do about it. About 2000 years ago, Patanjali compiled the Yoga Sutras. The sutras of which there are 195 were distilled from Vedic teachings, the Upanishads and the Bhagavad Gita.
The Yoga Sutras are a Philosophy of the mind, how it works and what we can do to make it work for us to ease our suffering. Much of modern Yoga comes from the Yoga Sutras. The Sutras are meant to be an experiential process (a practice) guided by a teacher.
So, what is Yoga?
It should be stated within the Yoga Sutras there is no reference to any deities or god/s. It is a completely secular. In its simplest form, Yoga is a philosophy of the MIND, how it works and practices on developing the ability of the mind to be stable and clear. The Yoga Sutras defines the practices, one of these are the postures (asana), one!
There are seven more, known as the Eight Limbs of Yoga, which I won't go into here. However, it should be stated using the breath to help focus the mind is central to Yoga philosophy.
How can Yoga be used for Self-Care?
Yoga practice is the ultimate in self-care. Because it is a practice for you, to take you back into YOU. When guided by a good teacher, whom is merely the facilitator for your own personal journey, you will likely find peace, calm and inner stability.
This will permeate into your life, where stressful events or situations can be managed with ease. A Yoga practice can be done in a group; or a personal practice can be designed for you. It should be noted group classes are a modern construct.
A personal practice would take into consideration your goals, limitations and needs. A typical daily personal practice will likely include breath awareness, movement with the breath, conscious breathing techniques and meditation.
And it doesn't need to be long, 10 minutes 3-5 days per week may be the best gift you can give yourself. The growing body of evidence, including peer reviewed papers, on the benefits of Yoga has flourished over the last few years and now many Private Health Insurers offer rebates for Yoga.
About the author:
Kellie Guenther is a Yoga Australia registered teacher and owns Studio Move with Softness (www.movewithsoftness.com) in Marrickville, NSW, a boutique studio specialising in personalised Yoga practices, in-person and online.