I’m going to tell you a secret today- my arse looked better when I was twenty two.
So did my skin. And my eyes. And my boobs- well….you get my drift. The whole visual package was a vast improvement on the forty plus me. But, the talk between my ears was anything but improved and neither was the way I treated my body. I drank too much, dieted too much, smoked and constantly scolded myself for everything.
Fast forward twenty years and I’d like to give that girl some simple advice-
Be kind to yourself.
Self care really is the key to a happy life but we need practice it. Whether we are yogis or not, we need to make self care apply to our whole life and do it, over and over again. Constantly asking, “Am I being kind?”
I know plenty of yogis that are really compassionate and mindful of Ahimsa (do no harm) in all of their interactions with other people. But they don’t apply these principles to themselves. They will challenge themselves constantly in their yoga practice, pushing their bodies to pain in order to nail that perfect instagram pose. They deprive themselves of adequate nutrition. They scold themselves for not being the perfect enlightened all knowing one.
They don’t stop when they’re tired.
They don’t like the ‘today’ version of themselves believing that tomorrow’s version will be better.
They bully and belittle themselves.
You don’t have to be a yogi to treat yourself like garbage either. Enter a whole host of mums I know. Gather round girls, you’re guilty of these crimes against compassion. Full to bursting of love for your family, how much do you save for yourself? Dads, you’re in too. Working too hard, self medicating with alcohol or food, no time for you. Sound familiar?
Picture someone you really love. You’re gentle with them, right? You’re not going to tell them they’re stupid because….(durgh) that would make them sad. You wouldn’t think it either. You’re not going to feed them cake for dinner (I hope) because you care about their health. You’re not going to make them run 5 kms in the midday sun because that would make them suffer. You’re gentle, kind, compassionate. Imagine what your life would be like if you were kind to yourself everyday.
“Holy smoke my friend, that just might be a kind of magic.”
Kindness is they key to living and ageing well. What makes you feel good, usually is good for you. Do it everyday. If you are a yogi, do your yoga and listen to what your body needs. Even in my classes- I’m just giving you suggestions. If we are challenging ourselves with dolphin pose and your body is begging for child’s pose- own it! I’ll be proud of you!
Make self-kindness a habit, develop rituals.
Give yourself a massage with scented oils. Eat good food and rest when you need it. Do great things, in small ways, every day. When you exercise, don’t push yourself to pain. Ever. You might look great in a swimsuit this weekend but when you’re eighty and plagued by old injuries, you’ll wish you came to my yoga classes. ……ok that was a shameless plug, but you get the idea. Walk, stretch, get strong but not strained. Walk in the fresh air, reach for your toes, move with pleasure.
In the morning, wake up and think about how wonderful the day’s going to be. Be grateful. In summer I like to wash my feet in cool water. I take a moment to fully experience the sensation and connect to the earth. I’m grateful that I have access to life giving water. The process of washing my feet feels devotional.
Then I do a simple meditation and water the garden. I hang out with the birds and touch the flowers. I am present and I enjoy this quiet time before the breakfast madness begins. Breakfast is usually healthy but sometimes it involves pancakes. A girl has to live after all.
You get the idea. If I catch myself not being kind, I remind myself to be gentle. This happens at least once a day. It’s easy to find things to not like about ourselves- but it’s bad for your health and your happiness. Challenge yourself to be nice. Take a selfie with no makeup and say five positive things about your smiley face.
Be gentle. Always. Everyday. No exceptions.
Your life will transform.
For those of you coming to class this week, I’ll be cheering you on each time you ignore my instruction and do your own thing.