Yoga, Massage, and Meditation: Three Options for Self-Care

by Melissa Chichester

Making beneficial changes to your lifestyle doesn’t have to be drastic.

Even small changes can make a big difference in how you feel, no matter what your health goals are. Since most of us experience stress, it is necessary to find a way to promote rest and relaxation in our daily lives and self-care routines. Yoga, massage, and meditation are three methods to consider on your path to wellness.

Yoga

Most of us have seen the glossy photos of people poised in flawless yoga poses and wonder how do they do that? You might even see them and think, “I can’t do that!” While you may not be ready for the handstand scorpion pose, you are likely able to try child’s pose (balasana) or downward facing dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana).

Even if you aren’t able to do advanced poses, there are yoga poses that people of all abilities can do.

If you’re unsure of where to start, there are yoga instructions all over the Internet and in library books. Another excellent resource is YouTube, especially the channel Yoga with Adriene. On her channel, you can find 30-day yoga challenges, yoga for seniors, yoga poses for those in wheelchairs, and yoga poses to do at your desk.

Beginning a yoga practice can benefit your well-being by improving your flexibility, increasing muscle tone and strength, and improving your energy levels. If you’re already an athlete, yoga is a valuable form of cross-training if you participate in endurance sports, like long-distance running. Yoga is also very relaxing and may reduce stress.

Massage

Massage has become an alternative component of modern, mainstream healthcare, offered and suggested in conjunction with a ride range of situations. These situations include sports injuries and some chronic health conditions.

Massage involves the manipulation and pressing on of skin, muscles, ligaments, and tendons.

Different types of massage can target specific issues and areas of the body. You can also choose the type of massage you want based on your needs, including:

  • Swedish massage: gentle massage that uses circular movements and long strokes to energize the body.
  • Deep massage: pinpoints parts of the body with more forceful movements to target deep muscle layers.
  • Sports massage: techniques are similar to Swedish massage but designed to treat sports injuries.
  • Trigger point massage: targets tight muscles that form after injuries.

Massage is also beneficial in stress relief, as a sleep aid, to promote relaxation, and is even used in hospice care to improve the quality of life.

Meditation

Think of meditation of the mind as what exercise is to the body: a method to maintain and balance your health. But how does one get started with meditation? Many people think they can’t turn off their minds and meditate, but just like it takes practice to learn how to figure skate or swim, it takes practice to learn the fine art of meditation. One thing to note about meditation for beginners is that it IS difficult. Let’s get that out of the way now and learn about how to approach meditation.

Two types of meditation to consider are concentration meditation and mindfulness meditation. Concentration meditation requires focusing on a single point, like repeating one word over and over again, watching a candle flame flicker, or listening to repetitive music. Mindfulness meditation involves letting thoughts move through your mind without reacting to them. If you are new to meditation, start with short sessions and work up to longer sessions so you do not feel discouraged. There are many guided meditation CDs and videos available to start with, so check out the local library or YouTube!

Relaxation is a benefit of meditation, in addition to stress relief, self-acceptance, improved mental focus, and feelings of well-being.

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