When it comes to well-being - physical, nutritional, emotional, etc. - our go-to person is Tara Stiles. A friend of mine for 10 years, I saw first-hand how she transformed yoga, challenging virtually all conventions to develop Strala Yoga. But it is her kind, incredibly upbeat approach to yoga, well-being and life in general that makes her stand out.
That's why we're sharing an excerpt from her brand new book "Clean Mind, Clean Body". After a tumultuous 2020, the timing couldn't be any better so enjoy "5 Practices for Slowing Down."
CLEAN MIND, CLEAN BODY
By Tara Stiles
Many of us pack our schedules during the week, thinking we can save slowing down and recharging for the weekends, or for vacation. Of course, it doesn’t work this way. Because after we’ve been on the treadmill all week, we collapse in a heap when the week- end arrives. Spending your weekend on the couch in sweats, eating junk, and binge-watching Netflix is not a healthy recharge. This sort of yo-yo lifestyle is a guaranteed recipe for burnout, and for our bodies rebelling against us and getting sick.
Instead of the kind of vicious cycle I’ve just described, we need to find balance. We must do that by slowing down, and we need to stop stigmatizing slowness. Here are some very simple, manageable ways to do that.
5 PRACTICES FOR SLOWING DOWN
A sustainable pace of life doesn’t have to mean living off the grid, although that might be a lot of fun for a while if you are the adventurous type. Here are a few simple practices to add into your routine that will help you with slowing down and reconnecting with what you truly value.
1. NATURE WALKS
I’ve already discussed the many benefits of outdoor walking in this book, but really, I can’t emphasize this one enough. I make sure to walk outside every day, no matter the time of year or the weather. I love watching the birds, getting close to the grass and trees, and getting on intimate terms with nature. If nature is your backyard, that is wonderful, but if you live in the city or in a suburban area, getting outside is just as useful. If you live in a more populated area, seeing other people on your walks can also be great for your well-being, especially when you allow yourself to acknowledge them.
2. DIY BATHROOM SPA
This is another restorative practice with incredible benefits, which we often forget about. A good hot soak with some Epsom salts, bubble bath, or your favorite essential oils can be incredibly calming and rejuvenating. I like to take a long bath before bed two or three times a week, and I swear by this practice for winding down. If you don’t have a tub (yes, I’ve lived in those apartments, too), you can gain similar benefits by taking some extra time for yourself in the bathroom with a good foot soak involving your essential oils and Epsom salts. I like to spend some time sitting on my bathroom floor doing simple self-shiatsu exercises like leaning my elbow into my upper inner thigh, a great practice for balancing yin, or softer energy. If you feel like you are constantly doing and performing in the world, you are expressing your yang energy frequently. It’s important to work toward balance of our doing/yang and receiving/yin energy for overall well-being. This was a practice I did regularly when trying to conceive Daisy. It’s not exclusively related to reproductive health, but it is wonderful for allowing your whole nervous system to slow down.
3. QUIET TIME
I love enforcing quiet time, whether I’m alone or with someone else, as long as they are up for it. This is a practice I came up with out of a need to bring a sense of calm to my busiest days. Today I practice at least 10 minutes of designated quiet time at some point every day. Sometimes I’ll announce “quiet time” when I’m in the car with Mike on our way to the grocery store, or when we’re on our way to pick up Daisy from school. He thinks it’s hilarious that I do this, but he also appreciates the sense of calm he gains from these designated periods of quiet. Usually, after we’ve taken a break for quiet, we have more meaningful things to say to one another.
4. HOW TO PRACTICE SHIATSU ON YOUR OWN
Shiatsu is normally done with a partner, but you can also practice alone. We naturally touch ourselves to soothe aches and pains, and this tendency is the basis of self-shiatsu. Here are few shiatsu pressure points you can try stimulating on your own.
- Dig an elbow into your inner thigh while sitting cross- legged on the floor to promote
- Apply pressure to the outside of your thigh to promote release of
- Press with your thumb into the middle of the sole of your foot to promote a reset of balance between tiredness and overexcitedness.
You can also practice self-shiatsu by paying attention to which areas of your body are holding tightness and tension, and focusing there. Bring some pressure with a thumb, elbow, or hand to these areas. Take a few deep breaths and notice any changes. The more you learn about the meridians, the more you can play around, but the basics are always the same: relax, breathe, lean.
5. PLEASURE READING
Another obvious one, but it’s something we don’t set aside enough time for. Reading is fun, informative, and an opportunity to escape into a whole new world for a while.
Books are magic, and if you are out of the habit of reading regularly, it is great to reestablish this practice. I’m not talking about skimming the news on your phone. I mean reading an actual book. I also think it’s important to push yourself to read beyond the categories that you naturally gravitate toward based on your interests. If you are reading this book, chances are you tend to gravitate toward wellness and health books. That’s great, but it might also be fun and expansive to pick up a classic like Frankenstein, or an inspiring memoir or biography about someone from a different time. Great books are like great people. One will lead you to the next, and you’ll form your own beautiful story of exploring along the way.
CREDIT: From "Clean Mind, Clean Body" by Tara Stiles. Copyright © 2020 by Tara Stiles. Reprinted by permission of Dey Street Books, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.