Taking exceptional care of ourselves is an imperative part of yoga practice
You’re probably heard many times how important it is to practice self-love. You know you should do it but you just don’t know how to even start (pssst, we can help with that). You’ve spent years loathing your body wondering if yoga is for everybody if it doesn’t fit into some “perfect” idea of what beauty is or berating yourself for not being “good” enough to do something you’d really love to do.
The thing is, you’re going to wake up one day when you’re older and think, “why didn’t I appreciate what I had”? You’re never going to be as young as you are today. Your skin won’t ever be as smooth as it is today so why not find the joy in that? Every moment you spend hating on yourself is a moment lost that you will NEVER get back.
The remarkable thing is, the more we love ourselves, the more others will do the same. How others react to us and treat us is a direct reflection of how we feel about ourselves. Also, the more love you show your beautiful body, the only one you have, the one that is here to carry you through this life, the more it will turn into the body you’ve always wanted. Find gratitude for what you have right now, in this moment and more of the same has to come. It’s a Universal Law. Yes, yoga is for everybody.
OK, so now you know the importance of self-love and you’re ready to start but not sure how? The main thing is to be patient. If you’re like most people, you have a lot to un-learn. And just like asana, this is a practice. This practice is guaranteed to give you enormous benefit but you must commit and stay with it, especially went it feels uncomfortable. That will change.
Here’s a list of my top favorite ways to practice yoga for everybody and shower yourself with love
- Dry brushing and oil massage. I love this one because you’re actually touching and nurturing your body. You will get more comfortable with all those parts of you that you didn’t use to want to look at. Consider why you would betray your own skin in favor of what society says is beautiful? Your body deserves better and you know it. If you don’t have a dry brush, you can use a dry washcloth. Move it gently on your skin in the direction of your heart, moving from the outer parts of your limbs toward the center. Don’t forget your face. After you’ve covered every area of skin, use a high-grade oil, such as almond or sesame, and apply liberally in circular motions from the outer parts of your limbs in toward the heart. Once complete, sit in meditation or read or journal for 5-10 minutes while the oil absorbs deeply into the skin. Complete the ritual with a bath filled with your favorite 100% pure essential oils.
- Take a new kind of yoga class. So many of us get stuck in the rut of doing only hot, vigorous yoga. Or, perhaps you’ve been in the same beginner class for a bit too long. It’s good to shake it up and it’s really an excellent idea to do something that’s the opposite of what you are naturally drawn to do. For example, if you’re a type-A go-getter and hardly ever slow down, that vigorous class you’re doing five days a week could be doing you more harm than good. Balance it out with a restorative class a few times a month and some yoga nidra before bed a few nights a week as well.
- Replace the negativity. Every time you find yourself bashing your body or skills, stop. Turn it into something positive. What positive qualities do you have? Remember, in the grand scheme of things, does it REALLY matter if you can’t fit into the same jeans you wore in high school? When we focus on the inconsequential things, we wind up limiting what we can really accomplish. How is inspiration going to come to you when you’re focusing on how your thighs don’t look like what you want? Start the process of letting this stuff go so you can open up your world to new possibilities that will actually enrich your life.
- Start a gratitude journal. Write about all the things your body has done for you in this life. Has it birthed a baby? A new project into this world? Does it allow you to volunteer your time to those less fortunate? Is it strong and powerful in your yoga classes? Does it get you everywhere you need or want to go? What about your arms that allow you to hold your child or beloved pet? After you’re done, really FEEL those feelings of gratitude. Hold your journal in your hands and send love to yourself for all you can do in your life because of the body, mind and skills you have.
- Get some high-quality dark chocolate. Indulge in this soul-nourishing sweet treat. Combine it with some berries for a naturally sweetened treat instead of your usual, not-so-healthy, go-to pick-me-up! The key here is to feel GOOD about what you’re putting into your body and savoring each and every bite!
This isn’t about perfection. That’s something we need to start releasing. Everyone’s self-love practice will look different because we all need different things to feel whole again. Think about how you can fit some or all of these practices into your life. Maybe you’ll just take the bath from #1 or maybe you’ll forgo the journal and just look in the mirror a couple times a day and say, “I love you”. Do whatever feels right to you now. Tomorrow, the practice might look different!
Let us know in the comments if you already do a self-love practice and if so, what does that look like? We’d love to know!