Whether we like it or even agree with it, everyone knows February is the month of "love". Maybe for you it's VALentine, GALentine or PALentine. But...what about YOU? Don't you deserve to feel love for yourself? Loving yourself from within helps you love others outside of yourself. Yoga is the perfect way to show yourself love.
"In Hridaya Yoga we speak of "Living with an open heart". The being is free of tension, full of compassion, open to the glory of life, pure awareness. Love cannot be provided by another; it flows through us rather than from us. It is not limited, but rather is simply a matter of opening to this reality."
So how does yoga teach self-love?
Self-love is about taking the time to celebrate and love yourself fully. It’s about removing negative self-talk and reminding yourself just how truly awesome you are. Self-love is about taking time to care for yourself and recharging when you need it. It’s also about reminding yourself that when you love yourself more fully you not only fill yourself up with more love, but that love begins to pour out over others around you.
Below are five ways you can love and celebrate YOU:
Take time to celebrate you: Fostering self-love allows us to let go of our negative self- talk. It gives us the opportunity to re-think how we see ourselves and begin to see ourselves in a more positive light. We tend to focus on the things we do wrong or our regrets instead of focusing on our accomplishments and successes. For some that is not so easy so try writing down in a journal those things you love about yourself. It can be physical, personal traits, and things you've accomplished. Re-visit your list often and meditate on the goodness that is you. Be proud. You deserve it. A good meditation exercise for you if you choose to do this: Begin lying down or sitting in a comfortable position. Focus on your natural breathing for ab out a minute. Don't change it, just "be". Bring to mind your list of things you love about yourself. As you bring these things to mind, imagine feeling that love and appreciation in your heart for yourself radiating outwards into the world. Stay in this meditation for as long as you’d like.
Give Yourself ‘Me Time’: Many of us live busy lives in which we have numerous responsibilities to others - relationships to our loved ones, our children, or our jobs. We sometimes focus so much on giving to others that we forget to give to ourselves, making us feel drained. Remind yourself the more you fill up your own cup with self love, the more love you’ll have to give to others. Here are some ideas for your next "me time":
Practice yoga or deep breathing exercises
Cook and eat a lovely meal for yourself
Take yourself out on a date
Go for a relaxing walk
Listen to soothing music
Buy yourself flowers
Book a massage or spa appointment
Enjoy a nice warm cup of tea or coffee
Read a book
Write in a journal
Take a long relaxing bath
Practice Self-Love Affirmations: Every day practice saying positive things about yourself. Affirmations are a powerful practice that can change your belief systems on a deep subconscious level. Get out your journal and write down a few of your favorite affirmations. Then write each on a sticky note and place them around your home and even your car where you will see them every day and be reminded of your greatness. When you meditate or are exercising or driving in your car, think about and repeat the affirmations. If you're not sure what an affirmation is or where to start let these guide you:
“I am more than enough”
“I love myself fully and completely”
“I accept myself as I am”
“I love myself unconditionally”
“I love my body and all that it does for me”
“I am worthy of all the love, joy, and abundance in the world”
“The only approval I need for myself is my own”
“I release any negative judgments I have about myself”
“I love the woman or man that I am”
“I am strong, powerful, and full of radiant energy”
4. Set Healthy Boundaries For Yourself: Self-love means setting healthy boundaries for yourself and knowing what your core values are. Remind yourself that you
don’t need anyone else’s approval but your own to live your best true life. Setting
boundaries sometimes means letting go of negative situations or people in our
lives. Meditation helps us to be more aware of our emotions and things in our
lives. Take time to sit in stillness and allow your inner wisdom to guide you. If
something is draining you or taking away your joy, have the courage to remove it
from your life.
5. Yoga Arrangement For Self-Love: Practicing self-love is a very soothing practice
that requires surrender and peace. It’s also an empowering act that gives us strength and courage. To put together your yoga arrangement you'll want to combine calming and power poses.
Here's some suggestions for your personal yoga program:
Child: Delve into self acceptance and self love through the surrender of Child pose. As you hold this pose for up to a minute or longer, repeat the following mantra to yourself, “I am enough.”
Begin on your hands and knees. Sink your hips back towards your heels and reach your arms forward. Relax your belly onto your thighs and rest your head towards the mat. Keep length in your spine and relax your neck. Hold and breathe, feeling yourself sink deeper towards the earth with every exhale.
Goddess: Get in touch with your inner Goddess or God with Goddess Pose. This power pose helps generate feelings of strength and confidence. As you hold this pose using your breath, repeat the following mantra, “I am strong and worthy”.
Step your feet wide a few feet apart, turning the toes out slightly towards the outer edges of the mat to about 45 degrees. Bend your knees and come into a wide squat, working to get your thighs parallel to the mat. Keep your knees pointed in the same direction as your toes. Hold for several breaths.
Warrior 2: Discover strength and inner peace with Warrior 2. As you hold this pose, repeat the following mantra to yourself, “I am worthy of all the love and joy in the world”.
Step your feet apart 3 and a half to 5 feet apart. Point your front toes 90-degrees toward the front, short edge of your mat and your back foot slightly in about 45-degrees. Lift your arms up bringing them parallel to your mat and bend your front knee stacking it over your ankle or slightly behind it. Hold for several breaths and switch sides.
Pigeon: Pigeon pose is a deep hip opener that creates a deep sense of surrender in the body. It also helps calm the mind and soothe the soul. As you hold this pose for up to a minute or longer on each side, say to yourself with every exhale, “I accept myself fully as I am”.
Bring your right foot in and place it down on your mat behind your right wrist. Adjust your shin so that it’s comfortable for you. Extend your left leg back on the mat. Come up onto your fingertips and walk your torso slightly up with the chest lifting and broadening. Stay here or to deepen the pose, begin to fold towards the mat keeping your spine lengthened. You can choose to come onto your forearms or rest your head on top of a block. To further deepen, you can bring your forehead down towards the mat and extend your arms out in front of you – with your palms facing down.
Savasana: Savasana is the ultimate relaxation pose in yoga. Use this time to cultivate self-care and love for yourself by staying here for up to 20 minutes or longer. You could enhance your Savasana practice by dimming the lights, lighting candles, and playing soft ambient music. You can even use aromatherapy to further induce inner peace; Rose, Jasmine, Bergamot, and Sandalwood are great essential oils to use for self-love care.
Come down onto your back and relax your arms and legs out comfortably. Allow your palms to gently open up towards the sky. Close your eyes and relax the muscles in your face. Let your breath be soft and natural as you just allow yourself to release and enjoy the moment. Remind yourself that by giving yourself this time to reset, you’ll be able to give more of yourself to others. Stay here for as long as you’d like.