One of the most obvious symptoms that my mental health is struggling is feeling disconnected from my body. I didn’t realize this was related to my anxiety until I was an adult and began doing yoga. When I was doing yoga, I became incredibly self-aware of my body. At first, that awareness was awkward, and made me feel self-conscious. Over time, though, I grew to realize my body was not just my friend, but it was part of what made me whole. Yoga is one of many ways I try and connect with my body. I also use meditation, self-affirmations in the mirror, deep breathing, and long baths to create that connection. I’ve discovered a lot of things about myself from connecting with my body. For instance, I now know I hold a lot of tension in my hips and my lower back. This not only allows me to focus on those areas when practicing yoga, but serves as a sign that I may be dealing with too much stress or not taking care of myself.
Here are some tips that have helped me stay connected to and aware of my body as a part of who I am:
- I prefer to do yoga at home, alone in a quiet room. I feel I need as few distractions as possible to keep me focused and mindful.
- A great way to use breathing for body connection is by using Progressive Muscle Relaxation – you can read more about that here.
- When I meditate, and I’m not the best still at meditating, I often wear ear plugs to keep from noticing every little sound around me. I also try to be patient with myself and remember that meditation is a practice that requires learning. It’s okay to not always get it right.
- For me at least, a lot of my anxiety manifests in body shame. While it may feel silly, standing in front of the mirror and telling myself my body is good, that my body doesn’t need to change to be beautiful, is powerful.
- I like taking baths, preferably with candles and relaxing music, and focus on the heat of the water as it relaxes my muscles. Adding some lavender oil to some Epsom salts makes the whole experience even more relaxing. If you don’t have a bath, a long hot shower can be just as relaxing! Using an oil diffuser or scented shower tablet can help with the relaxation as well.
I remind myself of this quote from Jessamyn Stanley, yoga instructor and body positive advocate, regularly.
“Before yoga, I didn’t respect my body. Now seeing it motion is exquisite.”
You can find more inspiration from Jessamyn on her website.
Remember, your body is part of you, and all bodies are good bodies. Your body is exquisite, and deserves to be known and loved by you.