Pic credit: Bianca Cheah
I’m pretty hard on myself, and I know you are too. You didn’t get to the gym today *lazy girl*, you skipped breakfast *ruined my metabolism* and put a lovely red sock in with the whites *incompetent*. But you know what? That’s called life. You probably excelled at a million other things today, far more important than your laundry skills. We all need to go a little easier on ourselves, but it’s not always that simple. I chat with Kate Kendall, Co-Founder and Director of Yoga at Sydney’s Flow Athletic, and part of the Simple Skincare Advisory Board, to get some tips on practising self-kindness.
I’m lucky that yoga was a saving grace for me. For a while in my life I wasn’t very kind to myself and essentially made some lifestyle decisions that weren’t great for my health. Yoga has taught me to practice less resistance to situations, look after my body physically and the philosophies of this ancient practice have taught me to be kinder not only to myself, but to the person next to me which is, I think, what the world needs more than anything at the moment.
Here are four postures and practices in yoga that promote kindness all round:
Also known as ‘corpse’ pose, I like to think of the energy of this pose as complete surrender. It’s all about receiving the splendour of stillness and giving yourself space (without tasks, movement and conversation) to ‘catch up’ and reset.
Any balance is a good test for focus, concentration and confidence, however, when we fall out of them we have two choices – to react with anger, frustration and self judgement OR with love, kindness and acceptance that we’re having a wobbly day and to actually allow the wobbles and falls to humble us.
This is the most common breath work done in yoga and it stimulates the vagus nerve which runs from the top of the spinal cord and is connected with many major organs along it’s way down to the intestines. It’s partly responsible for posture, breathing, reduction of heart rate and during ‘stress’ it relays adrenalin into the bloodstream triggering flight or fight responses. All of these factors effect how we feel about ourselves. In other words, if we are carrying ourselves well with confident body language and posture, are breathing in a calm and controlled fashion, reducing our aversion to stress, we’re ultimately happier and kinder to ourselves and the people around us.
It involves turning up the sides of the mouth and is one of the simplest ‘postures’ we can do. Ok… I just made the posture up, but did you know that the nervous system doesn’t know the difference between a ‘real’ and ‘fake’ smile? Neurotransmitters called endorphins are released when you smile, triggered by the movements of the muscles in your face. Your brain can not differentiate between fake or real smiling. Fake it baby!
Now give yourself a little hug, smile, and go easy on yourself. You’re amazing just the way you are.