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As a massage therapist, practicing self-care is essential.
Yoga and massage are natural partners in health. By incorporating easy morning-and-evening yoga routines into your day, you can enjoy the mental and physical benefits of this ancient practice.
You spend your days helping relieve clients’ pain and stress, and improving their overall health. An important question you should ask yourself is, at the end of it all, what are you doing to provide these same benefits to yourself?
Yoga could be the answer to that question.
Yoga and Massage
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) reports that practicing self-care is especially critical for those working in the healthcare industry due to regularly experiencing “long hours, large workloads, and exposure to the physical and psychological trauma of others.”
Put together, these can elevate stress levels and reduce well-being in healthcare providers, according to SAMHSA, if not cause you to burn out completely.
And if you have other stressors in your life to deal with, such as going through a divorce or a sudden death of a loved one, these effects can compound even more and cause troubling physical issues, such as headaches, decreased energy levels and irritability. Sleep quality can be impacted and stomach problems may appear as well.
Additionally, massage therapists engage in physically demanding work combined with the challenges of running a business or holding down employment.
Yoga is an effective way to help relieve stressors both on and off the job. In fact, this one form of physical activity provides a number of benefits.
Benefits of yoga are both physical and mental, according to the American Osteopathic Association (AOA).
For instance, practicing yoga promotes better physical health via increased muscle strength and tone, improved flexibility and a stronger cardiovascular system. Yoga also helps the body stabilize metabolism and lose weight while improving sports performance and offering more protection from exercise-related injuries.
The AOA adds that yoga helps release stress, and it improves mental clarity, increasing feelings of calmness and making it easier to focus and concentrate.
Many fitness centers and gyms offer a variety of yoga classes, but if you’d rather practice the poses in the comfort of your home but aren’t sure what to do, there are a number of yoga videos on YouTube that can teach you the art of this centuries-old modality.
If you’re looking for poses that can help massage therapists specifically, there are a few sequences that can provide yoga’s physical and mental health benefits in as few as 10 minutes.
10-Minute Yoga Sequence for Upper-Body Strength
If your goal is to promote upper-body strength, making it easier to perform the techniques most helpful to your clients, a morning yoga routine may be a great way to start your day.
DOYOUYOGA shares that yoga poses good for this purpose include:
- Downward dog (strengthens shoulders and legs)
- Plank (works arms, wrists, back and abs)
- Chaturanga (builds arms, wrists and abs)
- Side plank (improves strength in arms, abs, wrists and legs)
- Upward dog (tones the arms, wrist, back and glutes)
If you’re new to yoga, you may want to practice these individual poses first so you do them safely and effectively.
Then, once you become more comfortable, work your way up to completing this sequence of poses four times, holding each one for 20 to 30 seconds per time.
10-Minute Yoga Sequence for Relaxation
Yoga can also be used to practice self-care at the end of a busy day, mainly by relaxing the areas of the body massage therapists tend to use most: the arms, hands and shoulders.
A few of the poses helpful for releasing tension in the neck and shoulder areas are:
- Easy pose
- Cobra pose
- Ruddy goose pose
- Thunderbolt pose
- Easy seated twist
Yoga International adds that there are also some poses good for the hands and wrists. Among them are:
- Mountain pose
- Staff pose
- Warrior pose
- Sphinx pose
Add both of these upper-body sequences together, holding each pose for 20 to 30 seconds and go through the entire 10 poses two times to give yourself a relaxing yoga session to ease your body at the end of a long day.
Yoga and Massage is Self-Care
Practicing regular self-care is extremely important for massage therapists because it helps undo the damage caused by stressors common in the healthcare industry and challenges found only in the massage profession.
Yoga is a form of self-care that provides a number of physical and mental benefits, while also strengthening and relaxing your body. That makes this activity advantageous at the beginning as well as the end of the day.