Last week we delved into self-care through the breath. We explored how our breath metaphorically and anatomically is our most direct access to the heart, and how we easily and frequently withhold it from ourselves.
Perhaps I should not have been surprised, but as we moved on to exquisite self-care of the body this past week, I was met with some resistance and unease (again, a withholding). I began each class with a mini, guided self massage, starting with the head and temples, moving down the base of the head into the neck, the shoulders, arms and fingers. Though fun and enjoyable for some, this was one week where I did not win over everyone.
What is it, I thought, that hinders or prevents engagement with our own exquisite self-care? The reality is that we do not always have someone there. We don’t always have (or cannot always afford) someone there to help care for us, for whom our well-being is a priority.
So then what?
Do we go to sleep stressed and exhausted, to wake up only to begin the cycle again? ….And again?
I recently gifted myself a day-pass at a nearby spa. “All-day,” ultimately amounted to an hour and a half. I could have arrived far earlier, spent hours there (hours reading and writing at the very least) but I had allotted only 1.5 hours. Though I clearly value self-care, I found myself resistant to really indulge myself on a rare day off.
Exquisite self care isn’t merely about the decadent moments. It’s about the daily, often frequent, strenuous moments. It’s acknowledging how we are sitting in the car – how much tension we are holding in our shoulders, down into the grip of our hands and fingers. It’s noticing how much pressure our lower back is holding at any given moment. Its admitting to ourselves that at a certain point we need a grocery cart instead of the hand-basket weighted down by the thirty items which were only supposed to be three.
On or off the mat, I KNOW I can do more… I can totally add more to the basket, haul it to the register, and then my car. I can absolutely do the hardest most difficult expression of the pose.
But is that self care? Is that exquisite self care?
Of course not. So what is?
For me, it is taking a moment to pause, look at what does not feel good and adjusting accordingly. It is caring for my body in the same way I would care for my mother’s, sister’s, a friend’s or a student’s. It’s throwing my legs up the wall in between classes (if I am lucky, with Cooper!) to re-set my body and my mind. On the mat, it’s meeting my body exactly where it is that day, not pushing, not forcing, but gifting it the quiet kindness it needs.
What does exquisite self-care look like for you? Have you explored? And when you do, see if you can’t feel your body’s gratitude.
It’s exquisite, isn’t it?
With love and light,
Rachel (To receive these weekly in your inbox, subscribe below!)