20 Sep 2017
How to Cultivate Self-Love through Yoga
Yoga is an internal journey of self-discovery, an opportunity to connect with your true self on a deeper level. At its core, it is about developing a deep reverence and pure love for your body temple as it houses your conscious spirit. In this way yoga is a beautiful practice for those who suffer from low self-esteem, anxiety and depression as it slowly and lovingly allows a holistic way to heal these emotions from the inside out.
LET GO OF THE EXTERNAL
In a world that is obsessed with the external image of things, women the world over are suffering from feelings of not being good enough. Indeed, society’s messages are ones that encourage that we should always strive for more; to be more, to have more.
At first glance yoga could seem to aggravate this with all the image focused #yogainspo photos over social media. However, it is important to keep in mind when approaching yoga that while the physical postures can look incredibly beautiful, yoga is actually 90% an internal practice that is primarily about cultivating the union of a consciousness connection of your soul within your body. The true practice of yoga then becomes the act of listening to what your body needs in each moment and choosing to honor that. When practicing yoga where your primary focus is on lovingly accepting your body and giving it the opportunity to heal and grow in each posture, you are choosing self-love over ego.
Through yoga, you can focus your mind and emotions to find a gentler, more loving way to be comfortable in your own skin. Yoga allows space for deep internal healing and a conscious space in the day where you can enjoy just being who you are and lovingly express self-care in action.
Of course, the process of releasing many layers of unconscious critical self-talk can take time – and more than one yoga session. Not taking yourself too seriously on the mat is a great avenue to bringing in the ego dissolving warmth of humour and self-acceptance. The good news is that the more you can bring yourself to the mat with a loving acceptance of self to more your sense of self-love with grow and begin to be a natural starting point of how you see yourself.
The intention with which we do anything and the consciousness we bring to it greatly determines what we are able to experience from any action or interaction. So, it’s important to see your yoga practice as a place for nurturing yourself; as a way of honoring your body temple. This can’t occur if you approach yoga as an hour to burn off as many calories as possible and smash out a super yogi pose as the peak of your practice.
YOU ARE COMPLETE
The practice of yoga helps to promote self-love and self-care by helping you to realize that you already have everything you need inside of you. The deeper you delve into the traditional practice of yoga the more you are directed to accept and love who you are on an essence level, rather than a superficial level. Yoga shows you how to honor your uniqueness, and let go of the struggle that comes when you compare yourself to others. Your yoga mat is the perfect place where you can mindfully start the practice of letting go of comparison of others. Just like in life, your yoga class can be a place where it’s easy to become distracted by externals in what others are doing and the mind can try to wander away from any uncomfortable sensations and emotions that rise in the session.
To counteract this is a wonderful habit to try and go through the majority of your practice with your eyes closes or partially lidded. By closing the eyes and consciously practicing going into, rather than allowing the mind to run away from, the sensation or emotion that comes up in each pose. The next step is to mindfully go into that feeling your mind wants to avoid and breathe loving through it. What most people find is that, if you are not physical forcing things, your breath and focus will move the blocked energy and emotion and you will find a sense of peace and release on the other side as they naturally ease off.
Yoga is not something you set out to master, but instead see it as an every unfolding journey of self-awareness and self-care. Where ever you are in your day or life, there is a type of yoga that will support you. When you are feeling energetic it can channel your energy into power and strength, when you are feeling stressed or sad a yin or restorative session can nurture you back to a balance and peace.
Yoga is just like any practice and the more you commit to bringing yourself consciously to your mat the more you will see the shifts in your thoughts, emotions and body. You will feel your physical body getting stronger and more flexible, your mind will start to think clearer and you feel more serenity and joy on a daily basis, and most importantly you will start to feel a very grounded sense of acceptance of self, rooted deep in the awareness that you are the love you’ve been seeking.
Give Yourself Love to Share Love
You will realize that your relationship with yourself is the most important of all relationships you will have in your lifetime. It is your foundation on which all your other relationships grow. With this in mind, it is not selfish to put yourself first because when you love and take care of yourself, you have more love to share with others. This places you in an empowered space of embodying love, rather than a small place of seeking to be loved because of a misperceived perception of lack.
Make self-love a priority every single day, or you like old bad habits, you can slip back into self-criticism and doubt. Self-love is like a muscle that you need to strengthen and you can do this by bringing this intention to every yoga session as a sacred space for you to ground yourself in a moving meditation of self-acceptance and self-compassion.
“One must be compassionate to one’s self before external compassion.” Dalai Lama
Discover Your Highest Purpose in Life
We all wonder what our purpose is in life, the secret is that is rarely a job. All of us are engaged the initiation of self-love. Your greatest purpose in life is to embody love and share love and acceptance to others so they can also live from a place of self-love and giving love. Life will become so much more joyful and richer when you live from a space of love…. and it all starts by loving yourself. So the next time you settle yourself onto a yoga mat, bring in the intention of self-love and see how much more fulfilling and transformative your yoga practice will become both in class and in life.
Namaste to all You Amazing Yoga Goddesses on the Journey to Your True Self