As health care professionals devoted to their clients, massage therapists are at risk for burnout and injury if they don’t pay attention to developing and maintaining a solid self-care regimen. Yoga offers some unique benefits that will keep you—and your practice—in great shape.
“It’s easy to get lost in your clients’ well-being and neglect your own self-care,” cautions Sarah Landicho, a yoga teacher based in Chicago. Maybe you repeatedly lean too hard and often to one side or you continually hunch over the client, causing some muscles to work harder and others to grow weaker. Repetitive movements can also take a toll on your strength and flexibility.
“All these examples can impact your physical health as well as your effectiveness as a massage therapist,” Landicho adds. “That’s why it’s so important to take care of yourself in order to take care of your clients.”
2. Physical and Mental Self-care.
In the West, yoga is primarily associated with physical postures, but traditionally breathing practices and simple meditation techniques that complement the postures are considered an integral part of the practice of yoga.
When done with consistent commitment, research points to yoga as an invaluable tool for self-care to help practitioners increase endurance, prevent physical stress, reduce inflammation, expand range of motion, build strength and ultimately extend career longevity.
3. Body Connection.
In addition to the literal self-caring physical benefits, like strength and endurance, KailaTatman, a yoga instructor and massage therapist in Sussex County, Delaware, credits yoga for encouraging a profound mental connection with her body. “During those 60 minutes in a yoga class, I’m focused on myself. That clears my mind to recognize, say, a tenderness in my forearm, maybe something I’ve been ignoring or accepting as part of the job.”
As you cultivate body awareness, it becomes easier to sense where you feel physically weak, uncomfortable or in downright pain. “Once you recognize the issues, a yoga instructor can guide you to what needs to be strengthened and what needs to be stretched,” explains Jeffrey Myers, yoga instructor, massage therapist, and owner of Healthways Wellness in the Boston area.
Get more information on the benefits offered by yoga in the full article in the Spring 2016 issue of Massage Therapy Journal.