After spending most of my life experiencing tension in muscles and coping with countless small injuries I took a leap and became a student of massage therapy. I then endured 18 months of the most stressful education I've ever had and left feeling like I needed to trade in my body for a new model. Of course the human body is not like a car and we cannot just take parts off and put in new ones. It was shocking to learn about how messed up I was from years of dance, which created numerous muscle imbalances, how my genetics have set me up for potential postural problems and that my new found profession and livelihood was likely going to cause new problems for my body. Of course my teachers reassured us all that we can transform ourselves by taking our own medicine and practice good 'self-care'.
So, what is 'self-care', and how can I use it to correct a lifetime of aches and pains? This was my journey after school, discovering what I needed to do to help myself so I didn't feel like a big mess of old injuries and daily aches and pains. In my schooling they educated us on remedial exercises and other homework to give clients to help them with their muscle problems, which was a great starting point as I discovered soaking in my bath was my new favourite thing to do at the end of a long day. I took my own medicine and got regular massages for the first time in my life which helped me identify which muscles were really tight and needed some soothing touch. I also started rock climbing more, which helped me to strengthen muscles I never worked before and made a big difference in my overall body awareness. Since I had been out of formal dance classes for almost a decade I was craving movements like I found in rock climbing and the strength aspect was perfect for building my upper body tone. Lastly, I sought out regular yoga classes to focus more on breathing so that I was able to balance out my whole system and keep my mind clear. Add to that a more nutritious diet and much cleaner eating, plus frequent soaks in Epsom salt baths, I had found a pretty good recipe for taking care of myself.
After a couple years I started noticing improvements in my imbalances and was beginning to feel healthier than I had been as a teenager. One thing remained a nagging reality: most of my 'self-care' was me relying on others. So, I kept searching out ways to improve my routine. I studied yoga more seriously and became a teacher, developing a strong personal practice I could turn to daily. I explored self-massage techniques, using massage balls and foam rollers and my own hands to work out tension in muscles. Then, I began to explore ways to integrate resistance strength into my practice so I didn't always need to commute to the climbing gym. The result was an increase in my self awareness and ability to listen to my body's needs. Some nights I could do my own thing in the comfort of my home, and other nights when I craved joining a yoga class or climbing a challenging wall problem I could choose to go out. Plus, I absolutely still got massages from a colleague, but now it was to relax as opposed to coping with pain issues.
What I have learned through this journey is the basis of what I teach my students in the workshop Rock, Roll & Restore. Over 8 years of studying and working with muscles, plus a lifetime of experience with moving and feeling my body get through injuries has shaped how I teach my students and clients to listen to their own bodies. It was through this self discovery that my 'self-care' routine came about. It is my hope to share my knowledge with anyone who is interested so we can all live more comfortable lives!
Now, as a mom-to-be (over 25 weeks pregnant), I am experiencing a new phase of how my body can express itself. Through these changes I have been reassured by my 'self-care' practice that listening to the needs of my body is paramount to good health. The routine is not always the same each day, but having a dedicated 'self-care' practice is priceless. As I continue to fine tune and redefine my practice I learn more about how amazing the human body truly is. We are all capable of healing from our past and we are all deserving to be comfortable day to day in our own bodies. Sometimes it just takes a bit of education to understand how self reliant we can each be. I guess this is what my massage teachers meant when they told us to practice 'self-care'.
Join Jyoti to learn self-care techniques at Rock, Roll & Restore: Saturday, May 28th from 1:00-3:00pm. All levels welcome (including pregnant bellies!)