What do Yoga and self-love have to do with each other? To me a whole lot! Yoga is all about getting to know yourself deeply through a practice in Yoga called ‘Svadhyaya’ which means self-study. This involves deep introspection about who you really are and how you interact with the world.
There are so many different aspects to self-love – self-esteem/confidence, self-awareness, self-acceptance, self-care, self-honesty, self-respect, self-empowerment, self-compassion/forgiveness, self-expression and self-play and the introspective nature of Yoga allows you to notice your thoughts and beliefs about yourself, especially during the more difficult and frustrating poses!
You can be strong in some aspects of self-love and weak in other. It’s a never ending life journey, as is Yoga! Throughout my 20’s I was very strong in the self-play area and liked to have fun and party but very weak in pretty much all the others and these are things that I have really worked on and continue to do so.
When you begin to work on self-love, your communication improves – both in how you speak to yourself and others, you become more compassionate towards yourself and others, you create healthy boundaries, you leave behind things that don’t work for you – people, jobs, beliefs and habits.
For me Yoga is now a non-negotiable self-care practice, as it nourishes me from the inside out and fills up my cup. I can then go out into the world and come from a place of feeling nourished and not expecting other people or the world in general to give that to me. I give it to myself first. That is self-love.
In terms of the Chakras (the major energy centres in your body) the Solar Plexus Chakra and your Heath Chakra are both self-love generators. The Solar Plexus Chakra, located right in the middle of the abdomen, is your power centre and is all about self-empowerment, self-esteem/confidence and of course the Heart Chakra which is all about love. All love starts from within.
A pose that you can do for both the Solar Plexus Chakra and Heart Chakra is Cats Tail as shown below which is a Yin Pose. This pose gives you a lovely twist through the abdomen where the Solar Plexus Chakra is and by putting your hand on your heart, connects with your heart centre.
A great affirmation that you can silently repeat to yourself in this pose is “I am powerful and I am loved. I am powerful and I am loving. I am powerful and I love it” which comes from one of my all-time favourite inspirational books called ‘Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway’ by Susan Jeffers.
How to do it
- Start on you back, knees bent and drop both knees to the right into a twist
- Move the right leg that is underneath back and try to catch it with your left hand (you can use a belt if needs be!)
- You can also use something to prop up the left knee and left shoulder if they are not reaching the ground and it feels uncomfortable. Don’t strain!
- Put your right hand on your heart.
- Now surrender into the pose and say the affirmations!
We are hosting a full day retreat on 19th August with Clare Bennett to explore the theme of self-love, and to give yourself the time and space to nourish that connection with yourself in a safe and friendly environment. It’s suitable for all levels, including absolute beginners.
I hope you can join us. Find out more here.