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Pots of pink flowers and a recipe for self-care at lynnecurry.com.

My Simple Recipe for Self-Care: What’s Yours?

Ah, summer. Fresh foods. Vacations. Family and me time.

All of this squeezed into 12 short weeks can make for a very busy time. We all feel it whizzing by.

So while I’m unpacking after a few luxurious weeks relaxing on Cape Cod with my family {these are images from our trip}, I have a question for you:

How are you taking good care of yourself this summer?

There are many different ways we nourish ourselves and eating whole food is only one of them. Self care is a big one, as we all well know.

Yet, I find in my own life that it can get tossed out first. What with obligations to family and work and… all the things!

A Not-so-simple Question

Recently, via Facebook, I asked my overachieving girlfriends about the ways they take care of themselves. Honestly, I don’t know what I was expecting…but I was blown away by the responses.

What emerged most of all is that each and every one of us has a lot of wisdom about how to best care for ourselves. How we employ that knowledge at certain times is another thing–and will be is the subject of another post in consultation with a marriage and family therapist.

Adirondack chair on the water and a recipe for self-care at lynnecurry.com.

Right now, I’d like to share with you the “data crunch” summary of self-care strategies collected from my wise and powerful woman friends. {Note that some of these get covered in a single activity/non-activity you choose.}

Self Care Concepts in Action

  1. Alone time: A bath or hot tub, a good book, a nap. {I like the sounds of all three in a row!} Journaling or writing, making art, making music. One friend takes a 24-hour retreat to the woods, a hotel or friend’s empty home, while another caring for young children “escapes” to a place of solitude in her mind {now that’s resourceful!}. Solitude, even while driving, recharges and renews. Here’s one to try: turn off the phone for a set period of time when you find yourself alone.
  2. Moving outdoors: How funny that not a single person mentioned going to the gym! So, it’s not exercise, per se, but movement combined with being outdoors that brings the most benefit to our whole selves. Walking with and without dogs, running on roads or trails, hiking, biking, kayaking all allow us to fully inhabit our bodies out in the wide world, taking in fresh air and sunshine {or not}. One friend takes a daily “forest bath.” This is the Japanese practice called shinrin-yoku, which posits that simply walking in nature has profound rejuvenating and restorative effects. How intriguing!
  3. Meditation: Hold on. This takes many forms–not only sitting “in meditation.” Gardening, cooking and baking, walking and yoga are all forms of moving meditation. The mind becomes focused and clear, thoughts wander through like clouds drifting across the sky, the breath is smooth and full. You are focused and  conscious of being alive. Bear in mind that there is no time minimum requirement ;). This is how I manage to do the dishes.
  4. Fun Indulgences: Dinner with true friends, laughter, chocolate, wine or whiskey {here’s an intriguing essay on why women drink}, massage, pedicures, watching a great show or movie {especially alone}–this takes as many forms as you can imagine. Guilt of any kind is immediately disqualifying. How often do you indulge for your own fulfillment?
  5. Self-love: Nobody has it all or can do it all, despite appearances. Okay, I know that we all know that in our minds, but have we assimilated that fact in our hearts, too? Imagine treating yourself–and that includes self-talk–the way you treat your best friend. Be gentle with yourself and I will do the same.

A quiet river and a recipe for self-care at lynnecurry.com.

Here is some of the choicest self-loving advice from my friends to take to heart:

  • “Each day I choose to keep trying.”
  • “Say no to everything else and yes to yourself.”
  • “Forgive myself and rest.”

Three Yoga Poses

Here’s the funny thing about human nature: we often do not do the very thing we know will make us feel better. This goes double for women.

Of course, I can only speak for myself. For example, I love yoga more than just about any other form of movement or body work.

It brings me so many benefits on every level. I’ve used it to recover from rotator cuff injuries, temper tantrums {my own and others’} and writing deadline anxiety. It’s like a shot in the arm that does the trick every time, and the reward accumulates over time.

And yet, when I’m stressed out or have a sore neck or feel overtired, do I run to my yoga mat? Truthfully, not often enough.

A beach walk and a recipe for self-care at lynnecurry.com.

In July, I spent a week in San Francisco all on my own. I wasn’t there for yoga, but I stayed right near a Yoga Tree studio {5 stars!} and I signed up for daily classes. It renewed my practice and the memory of all rewards of having a regular yoga practice.

So, now when I wake up in the morning, I go straight to my yoga mat. All I plan to do is three yoga poses.

Three. Simple. Poses.

Just for fun, I put my daily practice into a recipe format you may like to follow.

So, what’s your recipe for self-care?

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5-Minute Morning Yoga Practice

This is a simple morning yoga practice for when you don't feel like you have time for yoga. For me, it works best to go to my yoga mat as directly as possible before the day's distractions and obligations pull me away from myself. This is for anyone regardless of yoga experience. It takes all of five minutes to complete, but can be extended. Be well!
Course Personal care
Prep Time 5 minutes
Servings 1 person
Author Lynne Curry

Ingredients

  • 6 rounds cat/cow for warm up
  • 4 rounds cobra (bhujangasana)
  • 9 breaths downward dog (adho mukha svanasana)
  • 5 breaths per side standing pose of your choice
  • 10 breaths comfortable seated position

Instructions

  • Cat/cow warm up: Start on your hands and knees with your wrists below your shoulders and your knees below your hips. On an inhalation, move your chest forward as you roll your shoulders back and lift your head, looking toward the ceiling with soft eyes. Broaden across your chest and fill your lungs completely. Hold your breath briefly. As you exhale, start at the tip of your spine and tuck your tailbone between your knees while you press your hands into the floor to round your upper back. Feel your breath move into your back lungs and hold your breath for a moment before you repeat the inhale and complete this cycle 5 more times. Pause.
  • Transition: From your hands and knees position, extend your arms out straight in front of you. Then, move your hips forward into a half push up position. Inhale and then on an exhale slowly lower your torso to the floor while keeping your torso strong.
  • Cobra/bhujangasana: With your palms on the floor next to your chest, press them into the floor as you inhale, lifting your chest off the floor. Press the tops of your feet into the floor to stabilize your lower back. How high you go does not matter. Pause after your inhale and then slowly lower down as you exhale. Pause and then repeat 3 more times. 
  • Downward dog/adho mukha svanasana: Press yourself up with your palms and push your hips back into the inverted V position called downward dog. Bend your knees, lift your hips to the ceiling and press your hands into the floor to extend your spine long and let your head hang down. Breathe evenly and smoothly in and out, holding this position for 9 full breaths. (1 breath is a full inhalation and exhalation.)
  • Walk your feet toward your hands to come to a forward bending position. Then slowly come to a standing position by rolling your spine from the tailbone to the base of the neck, letting your head come up last. Pause and notice how you feel. 
  • Choose the standing pose that your body craves. Some days, it may mean just standing there in a tall mountain pose (tadasana). Other days, you may feel energetic and want to do extended triangle pose/trikonsana or a balancing pose, such as tree/vrksasana. From this point, you may be in a groove and wish to do more than 1 pose. The choice is yours, so enjoy the moment!
  • Once you have completed the standing pose, you may want to rest for a moment in child's pose with your forehead resting on the floor and your knees bent and arms in a comfortable position. Then, sit up and find a comfortable sitting position (crossed leg or on your knees) that allows your spine to be aligned and long. Take 10 long, steady breaths in and out.
  • Rest your hands on your thighs and take a few moments to pause and set an intention for your day. 

Comments

  1. Robin

    This is wonderful. I love your blog. Robin

    1. 🙂

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