Erin Schoen Marsh
Self-Care Routines for Busy Athletes and Yoga Practitioners
Need some self-care but low on time and money? Here are my favorite ways to squeeze in some time to take care of my body and mind without breaking the bank.
5 minutes: FASCIA RELEASE AND ROLLING
The $10 I spent on two lacrosse balls might be the best money I’ve spent in awhile. I lie down, place the ball on a knot or tight spot, and relax, staying there until the knot has dissolved or rolling around to massage the tight spot. I use these on my back, chest/shoulders, hips, and feet.
The $28 wood roller has a steeper price, but as my vigorous workouts usually leave me with a sore back, it’s worth it. I prefer the wood roller for my back and the foam roller for my legs, hips, and butt.
Of all the self-care routines, these are the ones I do the most. I wake at 5AM just to get my workout in, so cramming in additional time for self-care just isn’t realistic on a regular basis. But I can spend five minutes rolling out my sore muscles or kneading out a knot while listening to the kids tell me about their days at school!
15 minutes: EPSOM SALT BATH
People have been taking epsom salt baths for hundreds of years to ease aches and pains. While the scientific evidence is limited, if nothing else, the warm water helps relax muscles and loosen stiff joints. Most importantly, it feels amazing, and adding a pinch of lavender to the bath adds that extra oomph of relaxation.
30 minutes: OIL BATH
Contrary to the description, an oil bath is NOT relaxing in a bathtub full of oil.
A castor oil bath is a traditional Ashtanga self-care routine for the day of rest, but it can be used for any athlete who needs to relax sore muscles. In short, you douse yourself in castor oil, rub it in, and rest/meditate for 10-15 minutes. The whole process takes about 30 minutes: massaging the oil, resting while it warms the skin, and showering after.
Massaging the oil onto your skin produces heat in the body, releasing tensions and impurities, and providing relief for any back/knee/joint pain. It reduces inflammation and removes toxins from the body by removing excess heat, particularly from the joints, liver and skin.
For a more detailed account of how to take a traditional oil bath, check out this blog by an Ashtangi who knows much more than I.
Tradition dictates that we should do this once a week, but as this is a messy and time-consuming practice, I am lucky if I get to this once a month. Those who practice this ritual regularly swear by it though!
45 minutes: RESTORATIVE/YIN YOGA
Restorative and yin yoga have a plethora of benefits--restoring range of motion, lengthening the tissues of the body, tapping into the parasympathetic system--and the restorative practice forces us to slow down and gives us the opportunity to turn inward.
For me, restorative yoga is a chance to meditate while simultaneously addressing some of my consistently tight areas (namely, my hips). For the days when life is too chaotic for a meditative practice, I can hold each pose for 3-5 minutes on the floor while the kids play or during our bedtime movie. Oftentimes, one of my kids will join in, and we will yoga together before bedtime.