Whitewater paddling guru Anna Levesque has built a company (Mind Body Paddle) and career around a set of skills and interests that span whitewater kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding, ayurvedic health coaching, yoga, international travel and, yes, self-care retreats. The impulse that ties all those threads together, Levesque says, is helping women reignite their spark for life.
How do you define self-care?
For me, self-care is equated with freedom through discipline: having the discipline to value yourself and being able to set boundaries so you can stay vital and pursue your passion for life — that spark. When we do whatever we want whenever we want, that’s actually not living with intention. That is giving in to our desires and our whims and over time that doesn’t really add up to anything meaningful. Whereas when we have a goal, and it’s meaningful to us, we want to have the discipline to take consistent small steps to the goal. Those consistent small steps are what create the result.
Freedom through discipline: It’s like a river. The river wouldn’t exist without banks. Within the banks the water flows and dances and has a lot of freedom. Without the banks (boundaries, discipline), that flow and dance wouldn’t exist.
What kinds of barriers can make it hard to practice self-care?
Sometimes the all-or-nothing attitude can really break down our intentions and our success. Doing two or three yoga poses every day will give you more benefit over time than doing one yoga class a week. But we get in our all-or-nothing mentality, like, “Oh, I only have 10 minutes; it’s not worth it.” But tap into your discipline to do a few poses for five minutes or 10 minutes or whatever you have. Or meditate. Or, “Oh, I only have 20 minutes — I’m going to go take a walk.” Doing that five, six, seven times a week — that’s going to lead to some really big results.
Have you set a new self-care intention for 2020?
This year I’m trying to create more of a bedtime buffer for myself. Sleep is so important for weight loss, for health, for healing, for vitality, and ayurveda (a holistic healing system that originated in India thousands of years ago) really emphasizes getting in touch with the natural sleep and wake cycles. So for me, that looks like maybe doing a bit more meditation at night and shutting off the screen at least an hour before bed.