We met in Nusa Lembongan (Bali) years ago. We had deep conversations on the beach and connected beautifully. Being back in Holland we didn't see each other much but we always know how to find each other when needed. I think this is beautiful, not having expectations from each other and to be able to ask for help when it's needed. As she is back in Bali at the moment I thought it is time to interview her about self-care.
Lotte, was there a specific moment in your life when you felt self-care is very important?
"Absolutely, I live in Amsterdam and lived that busy life: working freelance, teaching yoga classes and besides I also worked as hostess/ receptionist. I was focused on earning money and to teach as many yoga classes as possible in order to become a better teacher. I almost burned myself out doing that: I worked all the time and never took time to rest. I thought I was resting when I was watching Netflix or met up with a friend, but my battery was completely emptied out after every single day. My self-practice in yoga also had to suffer, because I was too busy."
"I reached a point I realized this can’t go on any longer. I decided to travel to India to follow programs on how to take care of myself as a woman and to take different yoga courses that were new to me, such as yoga Nidra, for deep rest. I also did a message course where I connected with my body again. I started to feel my boundaries again.
I had to relearn how to listen to my body, which signs it was giving me – I had chronic lower back pain, a bad digestion, hair loss etc. My body was super tired. I am very grateful I took the risk to leave home and start to journey within.
What does taking care of yourself mean to you?
"The main thing is to intentionally making time for myself every single day, to connect with myself and my body. I ask myself questions: How am I doing? How is my body doing? How am I breathing ? What do I need in this moment?"
"I practice yoga Nidra every day even if it's only for ten minutes. I used to have a big resistance towards meditating but I feel it's so helpful so I made it part of my routine. I love to dance, shake and get my body moving. And sometimes it also means to watch Netflix and eat chocolate."
"Setting boundaries also became an important part of self-care, to me it’s all a radical form of self love. What I also is that everything you need, you can give yourself. If you need a hug, give yourself a hug. Seriously, hold yourself for five minutes and say kind things to yourself. Look in the mirror and tell yourself all will be fine. Light candles, put on some nice music and make a beautiful dinner for yourself and eat alone. I can assure you it will make you feel better."
What do you do when you feel the need to take care of yourself?
"I take time for myself. I am honest with myself and others what I need in that moment. Sometimes that means saying no, or withdrawing yourself. I’ve learned that if I clearly speak about what I need, people really appreciate it and it’s the greatest gift to yourself too. I try to switch off my phone and really live in the now. Being fully present with myself. And then tune into what I need and act upon that. When I feel sad I just sit with that emotion. Sometimes I feel energetic and I need to release the energy and I dance. Sometimes I feel really tired, then I practice yoga Nidra. When I have my period I retreat in bed, with a good movie and chocolate. It’s all about balance, and tuning in to what I need. Taking rest, so the body can access the parasympathetic nervous system and it can heal itself."
What is your TCOYS tip to other people?
"If you don’t have a self-care routine yet: Create one (start small). Start for example by switching off your phone, all electronic devices, close your eyes and feel what you need at that moment.
"Don’t be afraid to say no to others and yourself. If you are tired but you planned to work out or have social obligations cancel on them. The body is very wise, and will tell you what it needs."
"Also don’t be afraid to spend money on yourself, go get that massage, go to that workshop or yoga class. Move over your fear to dance and get yourself to ecstatic dance, it’s such a great way to connect to your body and channel your emotions (or just dance in front of the mirror). Roll out your yoga mat and move intuitively. Sit yourself down and meditate on your breathing. Take your bike or bus to a forest or beach and connect with nature. Whatever floats your boat. It can be small things that make a huge difference."
Lotte is yoga teacher in Hatha, Vinyasa, Yin and Yoga Nidra currently wandering in Bali.