Yoga isn’t just about moving on a yoga mat. There is a whole lot of mindset work that goes along with the physical flexibility and strength that comes with practicing yoga.
As mid-lifers, many times having spent the better part of our adult years taking care of others, it’s sometimes hard to allow ourselves permission to take care of SELF.
These guidelines will help you come into a mindset where you can embrace self-care and understand that it is vitally important. They will help you to thrive and find health and wellness both on and off a yoga mat.
Guideline #1: Self-Care Is Not Selfish
It’s OK, and in fact imperative, that you be somewhat selfish and prioritize yourself. Being selfish is not a bad thing when it comes to taking care of health and wellness.
Just like anything else of value, your body needs to be maintained and taken care of. Think of self-care as an investment in the most important thing you carry with you throughout every single second of your life… that amazing body of yours.
This is where setting boundaries comes into play. It’s OK TO SAY NO to overcommitting so that you can carve out time for self-maintenance.
Guideline #2: Live Your Life
“Life is short, I wanna live it well.” — Switchfoot
Life is meant to be lived, not worked away 24/7/365. Yes, having a job and earning money is important, but if you don’t allow time for self-care, it’s hard to live a full and healthy life. It’s important to give some priority your lifestyle and health.
Finding health means it’s easier to find the balance between work and being able to enjoy your life, explore, travel, play, and nurture relationships. It’s about finding a balance.
Live your life, and live it well.
Guideline #3: Laugh and Love — Make it a Daily Habit
Life is too short to be serious all the time. Laugh. Love.
Two important pillars for life along with health.
Guideline #4: Love Yourself
“Don’t forget to love yourself.” Søren Kierkegaard
This rule is so so so important. To do this we need to stop comparing ourselves to others, stop listening to what marketing and advertising tells us we “should” be like or look like, and accept who we are, right now.
That’s not to say there’s not room for improvement, there certainly is, but to come to yoga is to accept what you’ve got to work with today, and roll with that. Yoga is for everyone, regardless of age, shape, size, or ability.
So give yourself a hug, you’re worth it. Work on your relationship to yourself every single day. Do something nice for yourself every day to increase your self-love.
Guideline #5. Without Health You Have Nothing
“Health is the greatest possession. Contentment is the greatest treasure. Confidence is the greatest friend.” — Lao Tzu
Like many things, we don’t appreciate health until it’s gone. It’s not something we can take for granted. It takes work.
I’ve had some form of chronic pain or another since I was 16 with a lot of orthopedic issues. In my 30s and early 40s I allowed myself to be miserable. Through yoga I reclaimed my health in my 40s, turned my negative thoughts (daily!) into a positive mindset, and worked on getting this body of mine working again.
I came to realize that it takes a huge amount of energy to stay negative, and I let that GO! Bit by bit as I started to feel better physically, my mindset shifted as well. My relationships improved, both with others and with myself.
I became a “The glass is half full” instead of “The glass is half empty” kind of person. I was able to see beauty in little things that I could never focus on before. I gave myself permission to take care of myself.
Guideline #6. Let Go
Let go of these things. LET THEM GO!!!
· Comparing yourself to others.
· Unrealistic body image.
· Talking down to yourself.
· Saying yes to everything.
· Taking care of everyone but yourself.
· Your cell phone (just for a little while every day).
· Grudges and judgements.
Guideline #7. Choose Happiness
“Happiness is not something ready-made. It comes from your own actions.” — Dalai Lama
Happiness is a choice. It’s not always an easy choice, and some days it’s downright impossible.
Choose happiness. Every morning before I lift my head off my pillow, I tell myself that I will choose to be happy that day. It doesn’t always go as planned. Life throws curveballs.
But I choose to start every single day with the INTENTION of being happy.
Another very important thing to know about happiness…. Other people don’t determine your happiness. You do. When someone cuts you off in traffic, you can choose to let that person ruin your day, or you can choose to let it go and put a happy thought into your head instead. Don’t let other people determine your emotions.
Guideline #8. Get Grounded
Like a tree’s roots, having strong and supportive beliefs about yourself will anchor you. You can’t build a skyscraper without beginning with a strong and solid foundation.
Working on a positive mindset using all of these techniques will translate into finding wellness both physically and mentally so you can thrive in midlife.
Guideline #9. Stop Comparing Yourself to Others
I tell all of my yoga students that yoga is not a competitive sport. I ask them to tune in to what their own bodies feel like, not what poses look like in the people around them or on social media.
We are all brilliantly, beautifully unique, with different bodies, different histories, different strengths and limitations. Thank goodness we’re not all identical robots! The beauty of yoga is that it works for everyone. It adapts to every person’s ability, regardless of age, shape, or size.
Being a yoga student is about figuring out what works for your body and honoring that. My job as a yoga teacher is guiding you on that journey.
Guideline #10. Breathe
“Breathe in deeply to bring your mind home to your body.” Thich Nhat Hanh
Yoga teaches us that breath is life. Oftentimes we are in such a rush that we don’t take in a complete lung-full of air. We go through our days shallow breathing without realizing it.
Take a couple of moments to simply put your hands on your belly, concentrate on pulling in a full and live-giving lung-full of air, and then think of letting tension and stress go as you breathe out. Notice what that feels like.
Paying attention to our breath is the fastest and easiest way to connect with what our bodies are telling us, tuning in to what feels good, and also to where we have tension. In our modern world of sensory overload, taking a moment to find stillness and just breathe is so important. Breath is a direct way to hack into our nervous systems allowing us to slow down and de-stress.
If you'd like more ideas on mindset and positive thinking, and how that connects with yoga and everyday life, I invite you to join my FB group Midlife Health Through Yoga.