How Self-care Led a Yoga Instructor to a Path of Healing

As we juggle the demands of work, family, and other responsibilities, we often put our personal well-being on the back burner. With so much going on, considering self-care can be perceived as selfish and unattainable.

Self-care is essential as it impacts your physical, mental, and emotional health, but many individuals struggle to prioritise self-care due to busy schedules, financial constraints, or a lack of know-how.

In this article, Rohit Mistry, a Senior Yoga Instructor at Yoga Edition, sheds light on how self-care helped him during his health and life journey and how one can prioritise well-being by embracing self-care as an essential part of your daily routine.

Q: Can you tell us about your self-care journey?

I first started practising yoga in London in 2003 as a way to improve my physical strength and flexibility. However, I soon realised that it improved my mental well-being and ability to manage stress. I was particularly drawn to Bikram Yoga, where a standard set of 26 yoga poses is practised for 90 minutes in a room heated to 40 degrees Celsius, as it not only strengthens my body but also promotes discipline and focus.

Three years into my regular yoga practice, I was diagnosed with Stage 3 Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma at 29. With the guidance and support of my teachers and doctors, I continued practising yoga daily between chemotherapy sessions. This commitment to self-care helped me regain control and mitigate treatment side effects.

While yoga was a big part of my recovery, other self-care habits were crucial too. A mindful diet boosted my energy levels and strengthened my immune system. Learning several tools such as Yoga Nidra, Mindfulness, and Meditation was hugely beneficial too, and was invaluable in supporting my recovery and overcoming obstacles. I still use them to this day.

Q: What other aspects of your life did you feel benefited from prioritising self-care?

Making self-care a priority helped me manage stress better, maintain work-life balance, and nurture closer relationships. It helped me recognise and accept situations beyond my control and cultivated resilience and emotional well-being – to navigate challenging circumstances with clarity and composure.

My self-care journey also played a huge role in fulfilling my life’s calling. I returned to my corporate job once I went into remission, but something within me had changed. My perspective shifted, and I felt a deep desire to share the transformative benefits of yoga with as many people as possible. This newfound passion led me to leave my career behind and embark on a journey as a yoga instructor. Since then, I have taught in New Zealand and England, and now at True Group’s Yoga Edition in Singapore.

Q: When prioritising self-care, goals and habits do you find effective?

Splitting one’s self-care process into short- and long-term goals can be beneficial. Short-term goals could include avoiding phone use an hour before bed, writing down daily three things you’re grateful for, and taking quick walks during breaks.

Long-term goals could include having a consistent yoga or workout regime, maintaining a balanced diet and regularly engaging in self-reflection. While these habits require commitment and consistency, the benefits I’ve experienced are well worth the effort.

Q: What advice would you give someone who is trying to start making self-care a priority?

Recognise the importance of taking care of yourself. Establish clear boundaries by learning to say no to activities that drain your energy or encroach upon your self-care time. Start by incorporating small self-care actions into your day, such as taking deep breaths or savouring a cup of tea. Pay attention to your own needs and determine what works best for you. Would you prefer strolls at a park or beach to unwind, or would running, strength training, or yoga give you the best boost of oxytocin? At Yoga Edition, I often tell my students to try different exercises or variations of yoga to find out what suits them best.

Lastly, and possibly the most important – embrace self-compassion and avoid being overly critical of yourself. Put yourself first and do what makes you feel grounded. This journey is yours.

Images: Rohit Mistry

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