In the last of our self-care for September series, we invited Clair Carter* from ClairMoves to share her top tips with our community.
Here are some practices that have been a steady constant in my life – some for many years; some are new additions over the past few months. Each one helps me greatly.
Early morning is my favourite part of the day. Waking up before the rest of the house/life starts to rumble is my go-to and must-have. My ideal routine is – wake up, drink a large glass of lemon water, make that first coffee and sit. I have been doing daily writing first thing – free writing for 3 pages as I sip my coffee. No matter what time I need to leave or be somewhere/do something – I always aim to give myself an hour or (ideally) two in the morning beforehand. It is that sacred space for myself, sitting with time and silence before life comes along and you get carried away with its constant flow. This is my number one.
Meditation and Yoga
This has been a large part of my life for over seven (eight? nine?) years. These past few months have been a welcome opportunity to take more time on my yoga mat, connect with my Ireland meditation group – weekly classes teaching yoga over zoom during lockdown helped and reminded me of the importance and benefit of Sangha. Even starting small with a few sun salutations, or another asana that you are familiar with is a good place to begin. Maybe aim for anything from 3 – 20 minutes of meditation, I create a space to do this. If you can find one corner, maybe even a room dedicated to practice, it is a game-changer! If you can find a group (be it online or a weekly meet) – this also helps to have a focus point or a motivation for that daily solo practice.
I believe we all have a hidden creative inside us, just wanting to escape. Everyone has a desire or passion or dream – whether it be artistically, ideas, starting a group or project, or business; whatever allows us to use the other aspects of our brain and skill set. In a world so dominated by routine and habit – it can be a challenge (or a radical choice) to make space for fun, creativity, trying new things or just simply reading a book.
I have made a lot more effort to create time for:
- Daily writing (journaling and creative writing).
- Reading books and creating/joining book clubs
- Signing up for online art courses
- Online movement classes
- Creating and trying out new recipes – I love cooking and this has been a wonderful way to channel some creative energy.
Being outdoors is always a must for me. It helps me to clear my mind, to settle into the pace and rhythm of nature (which is a lot slower and spacious than that of our society). It reminds me to be kinder and to breathe. It reminds me of the beauty of simplicity and slowing down. To rest. Take time in nature, daily: be it eating a meal outdoors, a short walk, a long run, hike or bike.
Movement and exercise are medicine for me. I now value and understand the importance of rest days too!
- I love to run. Trail running is a joy I have found since moving to BC
- If I need to be somewhere that is walk-able – I will leave early and walk.
- Cycling – cycle touring is the best. Invest in a bike and get outside, you won’t regret it and it is the best way to explore and see things you would not see from a car window.
- I’m not one for online classes but I have enjoyed them over the past few months. It is a great way to challenge yourself or to try out something that might be slightly intimidating in a group class setting. Try something fun!
- I also highly recommend playing your favourite music loud or putting on headphones and dancing around the room/house. Therapy for the soul.
Try something new
Trying new things or breaking from the routine. From big to small, seemingly insignificant changes – I find value in each one. Be it walking a different route, trying out a new store, trying a new activity, eating/making different foods, going somewhere you have never been. Doing things alone or going alone to new groups activities or classes (maybe a pre-COVID thing but online also works). Volunteer with an organisation you value, join a book club or online learning group. Make a list of things you can do locally and pick one out of a jar now and again and go and do it! Or a list of movies to watch or books to read. The possibilities are endless.
Clair Carter is an Ashtanga yoga practitioner, teacher and travel blogger and first came to practice yoga in her final year at University in 2011. Starting with Ashtanga yoga, this has been her primary and daily practice ever since. Clair has practised extensively in Ireland, Spain and during several extended trips to India where she practised with some of the few KPJAYI Certified and Authorized senior teachers. She currently lives in Vancouver, Canada. You can find information about my weekly Yoga class here).