Learn to Love Yourself: Why Doing Yoga Helps Your Self Love Grow
We hear a lot of talk about self-love but very little advice on to how to achieve it. When you’re ready to start your journey toward acceptance, yoga can help.
Ann Pizer |
Self-love is a bit of a buzzword in the wellness community, which means we hear a lot of talk about the importance of accepting and loving yourselves, but not a lot of useful advice on how to get there. Most people can’t just wake up one morning and say, ‘this is the day I’ll reject the lifetime of conditioning that has resulted in my cripplingly low self esteem. and feelings of unworthiness.’ But you can wake up today and decide to do yoga.
Fully inhabiting your body through grounding practices like movement and breathe help you feel more comfortable in your skin. An appreciation for yourself grows as you discover what you are capable of and how to be in the present moment. As you learn to feel more connected to all the different parts of your being, your love for you self naturally grows.
Loving Your Body
One of yoga’s most powerful lessons is to accept your body where it is on any given day. When you first start yoga asana practice, it’s probably not going to come very easily. You may struggle to arrange your body to resemble the poses you see demonstrated at the front of the room. You have no idea what you’re doing. You can’t force or sweet-talk your hamstrings into a deeper forward bend so you have to accept yourself as you are.
With consistent practice, you may soon start to see improvement and that makes you feel good about yourself. You’ve done something difficult and your body and mind have experienced positive change. If you’ve struggled with your body image, your bad feelings about how your body looks may even be replaced with good ones about what it can do.
In yoga there is no end goal, no place where you can stop and rest on your laurels, at least not for very long. There will always be another challenge and other opportunities to repeat the cycle of trying, failing, doubting yourself, and overcoming. Eventually, you may come to see that the failing and the doubting are not the most important part of the process. Actually, neither is the overcoming. Trying and trying and trying some more is the practice. It’s much more difficult to see yourself as a failure when it's revealed how irrelevant success is.
Freeing Your Mind
Yoga and meditation teach us how to be in the present moment. Think about the negative self-talk that happens in your head. You’re beating yourself up over something that happened in the past or stressing over something that’s coming up in the future. But what about right now? What are you doing right now?
When you’re meditating, you’re sitting and breathing. When you’re deep in a yoga pose, your body takes a different shape but you’re still just breathing. Inhaling. Exhaling. Inhaling. Exhaling.
The breath provides a refuge where you can hold the past and the future at bay and stay in the present, even if it’s for just a few moments. And this handy tool is always with you, available at any time.
Body, Meet Mind
Releasing tightness and making space in the body are big parts of physical practice of yoga. But it’s also about making space in your mind. The extreme physicality of asana practice (which doesn’t mean circus-style acrobatics; it means the sharp focus and minute attention to detail that aligning your body into any yoga pose requires) has the effect of temporarily emptying your mind.
When you come back, you might find that things have been rearranged. Your negativity and self-doubt may have moved over to make room for your positivity and self-love. It doesn't happen over night, but with consistent practice, it does happen.