From self-care to Self-careAug 09, 2023
In her book Real Self-care, Dr. Pooja Lakshmin - a psychiatrist specializing in women’s health - explores why the typical self-care practices offered to women today aren’t working. She argues that real self-care requires introspection to find clarity about one’s values and what truly adds meaning to one’s life.
For years, I’ve been teaching, talking, and writing about how to make yoga an authentic self-care practice - one that’s a far cry from how it’s often positioned in the mainstream fitness world. In a recent article I read about her book, Lakshmin made a point that makes the difference crystal clear.
She shared one woman’s experience of practicing yoga as an example of what she calls “faux self-care.” These are things we do in the name of self-care that are really just quick fixes and don’t actually improve our lives.
For this woman, she said, going to [yoga] class became just another thing she needed to do and win at; she was obsessing over her progress on headstands and posting selfies in workout gear, waiting for likes to roll in.
She went on to say that while yoga can be an effective form of self-care, if we’re doing for the wrong reasons, or in an atmosphere that encourages feeding our egos rather than our well-being, it can actually cause more harm than good.
Yoga offers us practices and perspectives to cultivate equanimity, self-reliance, and self-acceptance. Too often, yoga’s true spirit - and therefore it’s potential to contribute to our well-being - is eclipsed by the interests of the wellness industry that has co-opted it and the values of our hyper-individualistic consumer culture.
It’s time to reclaim the true spirit of yoga for what it is - a path for quieting the mind so that we can experience the calm and contentment that lie beneath the surface of our ordinary awareness. This is the experience of the Self that yoga teaches is our innermost nature.
When we tap into this essence - whether through postural practice, breathwork, or meditation - we emerge fortified, renewed, and ready to meet with life with greater clarity and centredness.
For me, there’s no truer Self-care than that.