What’s funny, sad, and amazing to me all at the same time is that we live in a time and place where we have to be reminded to take care of ourselves.
I don’t know who the first person was to use the term “self-care.” I know in 1988, Audre Lorde wrote, “caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation and that is an act of political warfare.”
Today, my favorite yoga teacher echoed a sentiment my therapist shared with me many weeks ago. She said,
“This is your practice. If you are always powering through the most difficult expressions of the pose, maybe just notice that. Give yourself permission to rest if you feel like you need a rest.”
Maybe. Just. Notice. That.
I love her.
Rest is something I have struggled with since I-can’t-remember-when. Not only do I have trouble resting myself, but also I judge people who rest. As I power through another round of dishes after grading papers because I had a spare fifteen minutes before the next thing starts, I see my boyfriend splayed on the sofa watching the tournament and judgment spikes in me unbidden.
My insisting on doing every little thing and more to the fullest extent and then some doesn’t give me some kind of magic halo of moral authority.
In yoga and in life, I have always powered through the most difficult expressions of every pose, as if I have been constantly asking myself, how can I make this as difficult as possible? How can I make this hurt as much as possible? How can I push myself to the very limit? How can I completely ignore what my body and soul are asking for and perform perfection PERFECTLY??
This kind of yoga and living leads to injuries and nervous breakdowns.
My therapist wondered who I was doing it for, why I was setting these insane expectations for myself. I really didn’t know.
Now, I don’t take every vinyasa. Sometimes, I take a child’s pose or go straight into down dog. Depends what my body wants. It’s different every day.
Now, if I have a spare block of time in my day, unaccounted for and unscheduled, I might just sit outside and listen to the wind.
I might feel and recognize that I can get deeper into a twist on one side than on the other and be okay with that, pausing in the expression of the pose that feels right for me at that moment. Listening. Feeling.
I might read a book for fun instead of forcing myself through another chapter of a book for school.
I might do nothing at all. I might just be.
And guess what? This kind of care and attention and rest is energizing. At the end of the day, I sink onto my pillow feeling contented and full instead of empty and miserable about not getting to that one last thing. It will all still be there tomorrow. The world will still relentlessly ask of you tomorrow. But what will you do for yourself today? What will you take for yourself today?