The meaning of Yoga is Union. Union with others, a higher power and one's true self. It is a constant journey of self discovery and learning to love who we truly are. The practice of yoga has infinite lessons, and one of the most profound is self-love and acceptance. Here are 7 small ways you can practice more self-love as a yogi for powerful effects!
1. 5 minutes of meditation in the morning
We wake up with a clean slate each morning and meditation can help set the tone for our whole day. Meditation is a simple practice of being a present and non judgmental observer of our thoughts instead of a reactor. We have about 12,000 to 60,000 thoughts per day. 80% of our thoughts tend to be negative and 95% are the exact same as the day before! Imagine if we just tuned in, became a bit more aware of what these thoughts are and learned to focus on being present just a little more every day. Presence brings joy, presence brings clarity, it can stop cyclical negative thinking, all of which brings a sense of self love too. Our mind is our home and the act of exercising our mind to be present is one of the largest acts of kindness we can give ourselves.
2. Tune into and honor what your body needs physically and emotionally.
Your yoga practice is a great time to tune into your body. When we slow down, we become present in the body and "hear" little things like, "My neck is stiff, I think you've been working too much!" Or "I feel sluggish, perhaps we should eat better today."or "Hey, I feel lots of anxiety stored up, why is this?"
If you have ever practiced yoga or sat present in your body then you know what I am talking about. Often when we keep too busy, often out of a need to feel productive, we can miss these messages. Our bodies hold amazing wisdom, it knows what it needs and the more we listen the better we will feel.
It sounds simple but it can be shocking how long we will go without being tuned into our bodies voice. When we ignore signs or don't take time to investigate discomfort in the body or mind (or we are told its normal) it can lead to injury or even chronic illness. This finally forces us to listen and make changes. Taking time to listen and honor our needs now is another way to show self-love and be our own best friend.
3. Detox 1 item in your house per day
Almost everything has a safer alternative from our body and bath products, food, cleaning supplies, makeup, to even house paint and clothing. Take the time to research the materials and ingredient lists on one item a day.
For yogis, when you get yourself an Oko Living herbal dyed mat, you are one step ahead already! Typical yoga mats are made of PVC the most toxic kind of plastic! The toxins in PVC off-gass and can enter our bodies via our breath or skin. Oko Living mats are 100% toxin free and use medicinal herbal dyes for optimal wellness. This is so important to yogis especially for a piece of equipment you use every single day!
Lots of other things can off-gas in our home including our wall paints. Amazingly we can actually purify and grow fresh air with these 3 amazing house plants: the Snake plant (aka Mother in Law's Tongue), Money Plant and the Areca palm.
There are so many neat tricks to creating a healthier environment for yourself, so just start with one item a day :)
4. Start your day with an intention
When we first hit the yoga mat, we stand in Tadasana, bring our hands to Anjali Mudra and set an intention. We can do the same everyday to help us flow through life in a good direction. Think about your main goal or energy you want to achieve that day and remind yourself throughout the day.
5. Take time to rest
The entire yoga practice is dedicated to allow the deepest Savasana aka final resting pose. Don't underestimate the art of relaxation. Savasana can be the most difficult pose of your practice. Taking time for intentional rest is crucial to recovery and wellness. Especially now that many work from home or run their own businesses, work can start to creep into every hour of the day and focus is easily lost. Focused and intentional work and rest time are essential to your own wellbeing.
6. Choose high vibration foods
Your body is your temple and your one and only home. Food is your body's medicine and fuel. Healthy food is foundational to self-love, which also requires self control! Every body is different but Michael Pollan's famous guidelines can be a great start.
"Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants."
To elaborate on this, by "food" he means real food, the kind your grandmother ate and comes from a farm and readily spoils.
"Not too much" means eat an amount that maintains a healthy body weight and energy level for your lifestyle.
And when you eat "mostly plants" try to eat local and seasonal. Our bodies are engineered to eat seasonally and have a break from certain foods for 2-6 months. When we eat the same thing year round our guts become sensitive to them and hidden food sensitivities can cause weight gain and all kinds of health issues.
One bonus tip is to take a break from eating too! Try intermittent fasting (eating only within a 8-10 hour window) . Our guts need a break,to heal other parts of the body, we were not meant to eat all day long every day. So love your gut and eat well!
7. Connect with others and seek diversity in your yoga circle
Opening up to new kinds of people grows your empathy and respect, which deepens our own self acceptance. Yoga is for all bodies, minds and hearts so take time to invite someone to yoga, or share your yoga journey with them.
Recently the young man who processes all the Oko Living mats at the shipping center shared about how he's getting into yoga and how it has changed him. We exchanged some tips, it was fun and unexpected! Every time I come in I ask how his yoga journey is going and get so excited for him.
Go forth and love thy self
So those are 7 simple ways that we can practice self-love especially as a yogi. These small actions can bring profound changes in our lives when practiced routinely. Comment below if you found this helpful and share how you practice self-love on and off the mat!