Apparently May is Women’s Health Month! Today, on the 19th of May, I finish 30 Days of Yoga with Adriene*. Lately at the end of each practice Adriene asks us yogis to remember why we started this challenge in the first place. And so I remind myself. I remind myself that I started a yoga practice because I wanted to find a way to celebrate my body and honor it. I started practicing yoga because I thought for a long time that the only way to be “healthy” was cranking it out at the gym and cutting out all the good foods from my diet. I started practicing yoga because I wanted to learn how to love and care for my body better. I started practicing yoga because I wanted to treat myself.
Here’s the thing about loving and caring for my body better – I had to figure out what it looked like to do that. Nobody else could tell me, hey, here’s what your body needs! Because my body is unique and mine. I thought that there was a one size fits all way to be healthy. The gym and vegetables way. Which is a problem because my hips hurt after a lot of running and also I have no desire to go to the gym. And vegetables are nice but so are tacos and I don’t want to give up McDonalds Cokes. So you can imagine my relief and delight when I realized that caring for my body is as unique a job as caring for the rest of my self. Adriene is always reminding us to find what feels good and listen to our bodies. Which to some of us (like those fundamental Baptists of us) could sound a little scary. Like a slippery slope. But it’s not! Because when you lay down in that final shevasana after a good practice you’ll probably hear your body say something like, “Thanks.”
My word for 2015 is soften. My body is pretty soft, but I wanted to soften the way I view it and the way I care for it. Like I said, jarring motions hurt my crooked hips. This year I wanted to soften overall in every aspect of my life. As I came into the new year I looked at my life and named some ways I was already caring for my body, ways I was already soft. Because one of the ways I love myself is self-encouragement. “Hey, Suzanne! Look at what you’re already doing that is good. Keep that up!” So here are some things I was already doing to care for my body before I started yoga:
Drinking lots of water.
Getting lots of sleep.
Saying nice things about my body.
Occasionally walking places instead of taking motorcycles.
Decorating my body with pretty tattoos.
I thought that these things were self-indulgent but really these things are just self-care. Which is important. Now I can add to this list: Practicing yoga! and Wearing sunscreen on more than just my tattoos.
I encourage you women (and men) to make your own list. How are you loving your body? Because it’s important that you are loving your body. It’s what carries you around all day and lets you do things you love like dance and hold babies and swim in the ocean. And once you make your list, challenge yourself to add just one more thing to that list. Treat yourself with radical self-care.
Do you already eat a lot of fruits and vegetables? Awesome, send me some recipes! And perhaps consider getting some more sleep. Do you already get a lot of sleep? You are great! Maybe now you can try out a Zumba class! Do you already eat fruits and vegetables and drink a lot of water and sleep just the right amount and wear sunscreen and thank your body every day for getting you up and around? Stupendous! May I suggest routine screenings and immunizations? Sure, going to the doctor’s office for a shot or a squeeze isn’t as relaxing as yoga or as endorphin-inducing as a trip to the gym, but I bet they’ll let you wear your work out pants! And keeping in touch with your doctor is just one more way to love your body.
If you live in New Jersey, New York, and soon to be Texas, or California, may I suggest partnering with Oscar Insurance? They are all about your self-care! And convenient technology! Oscar Insurance is so invested in women loving their bodies that they put together this lovely little infographic chock full of items to add to your list of self-care. You can find more online about Oscar’s health insurance plans.
I’m all about honesty over here and so I will honestly say that I don’t think I’ve ever had a flu shot and I know I’ve never had the HPV Vaccine. What I’m saying is what I’ve been saying – that our self-care plans are as unique as we are and all I want to do to celebrate Women’s Health Month is all I want to do to celebrate every day. Promote education and self-love. Encourage you to treat yourself. Take a look at the list. Find your age range. Consider adding one of those things to your list of ways you love and honor your body. Just think about it. Then tell yourself something nice about your bod! It deserves some affirmation.
Today is the release day for Brittany Gibbons’ book, Fat Girl Walking! Brittany is one of the women I needed to see being awesome in her own skin and here are her words of wisdom (and I’m assuming some hilarious stories) about loving, honoring, celebrating, and caring for your body. I bought the book but haven’t read it (I mean, it just came out today and I’m smack in the middle of my first Stephen King, Under the Dome) but I have spent a decent amount of time on Brittany’s blog and it’s usually a fun time. Reading Brittany’s book surely counts as self-care! Especially if you read in the doctor’s waiting room or while getting a pedicure. Treat yo’self!
*If you’re interested in starting yoga but aren’t ready to unroll a mat in a room full of strangers, please check out Adriene’s YouTube page. It is chock full of all kinds of videos for all levels of yogis (I started my practice by doing her Yoga for Beginner’s video very day for two weeks!) and it’s all free! Three cheers for Adriene! Also, full disclosure, I didn’t do yoga today because the power was out for 95% of my waking hours and when there’s no power, there’s no water and where there’s no water, there’s no shower and where there’s no shower, there’s no yoga. Good hygiene is self-love, too! Tomorrow it’s Day 30 time! Dominican electricity permitting.