I traveled by air a few weeks ago and since it's been quite a while, I found myself actually paying attention to the airline safety presentation. Remember the part where the flight attendant tells us that if necessary, place an oxygen mask over our own face before helping others? I’ve always thought that was odd. Wouldn’t it be natural to help less able people first in a survival situation? But the more I thought about it, the more I realized the wisdom in that instruction. It reminded me of a very important truth… "You cannot give what you do not have". Your best counsel and advice can only be delivered when you feel centered and balanced. Your most empathic support must first have a heart open to sharing. Taking care of your Self is the first and most important step in being able to care for those around you. Yet Self Care is so difficult. Feelings of selfishness can overwhelm our best intentions. We can feel guilty taking time for ourselves…especially during the holidays when we’re encouraged to think and care about others. Those feelings are misleading. Self Care is never selfish. Caring for others but not yourself is Sacrifice…which is noble, but not necessarily healthy. Your Self Care can take many forms. Intentional breathing, meditation, your yoga practice, or perhaps just pausing for a moment to reflect with gratitude on what’s around you. Even simple physical care…hydrating, making wise food choices, or walking a few extra steps will help. You can multiply the effect of these things by doing them with Intention. Drinking a glass of water when you’re thirsty is great, but drink that same glass while reminding yourself that this water is really good for you and that you’re caring for yourself by drinking it not only satisfies your body but your spirit. I say often that on our mat we are practicing those things we’d like to create in our lives, be it flexibility, strength, fortitude, or focus. In this case, the act of performing Your Yoga is the practice of giving yourself permission to take care of yourself with no judgment. It doesn’t matter if you go to a class or just take a few minutes out of your morning to do some stretches. All that’s needed is that you make a conscious decision to make time for yourself. Your Self Care is the oxygen that is necessary to allow you to help others, so please make sure that you put your own mask on first, gently tightening the straps on each side, before assisting others.