“You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection” – Buddha
With the celebration of Valentine’s Day this week, we often correlate Valentine’s Day with love for others. While our relationships with others is an important aspect of love – the most essential type of love is often overlooked — self love. I’ve created this guide to help you get in touch with and cultivate the most important relationship you will ever have – with yourself.
Yoga practice is an excellent way to reconnect with ourselves and boost our self worth. Yoga allows us the time to just be ourselves and be fully present in our bodies with no judgments. It gives us the time to be still and care for ourselves deeply – in mind, body, and soul.
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 do love you more fully – you not only fill yourself up with more love — but that love begins to spill over and radiate out into the world.
Here are 5 simple ways that you can start cultivating self love today.
1. Take Time To Celebrate Yourself
Cultivating self love allows us to let go of our negative self talk. It gives us the opportunity to reframe and 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.
Practice acknowledging all the amazing things you do or wonderful things that you love about yourself. You could do this by writing down a list of things you love about you in a journal. These things could be physical things, accomplishments, or traits you love about yourself. Look at your list often and take time to meditate on it frequently.
Here’s a great ‘celebrating you’ meditation you can do easily anywhere:
Celebrate Yourself Meditation: Begin lying down or sitting in a comfortable position. Bring your attention to your natural breathing cycle for about a minute; just simply observing it – not trying to change it in any way. Next, bring to mind 15-20 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.
2. Give Yourself ‘Me Time’
Many of us live busy lives in which we have numerous responsibilities to others; this includes our relationships to our loved ones, 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’:
• Meditate daily
• Practice pranayama 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
• Enjoy a glass of nice wine
3. Practice Self Love Affirmations
Practice saying positive things about yourself through daily affirmations. Affirmations are a powerful practice that can change your belief systems on a deep subconscious level. Write down a few of your favorite affirmations on a sticky note and put them in places where you’ll be reminded daily. You can even make a reminder on your phone and affirm these to yourself several times a day. You could also set aside 5-15 minutes to sit in stillness and repeat the affirmations in meditation.
Here are some affirmations you can use to boost your self love:
• “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 your 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 Sequence 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 sequence yoga poses for self love, consider calming yoga poses combined with power poses.
Here we’ve created a mini self love sequence you can do at home easily:
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.”
To do this pose, 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.
Get in touch with your inner Goddess or God with Goddess Pose. This power pose helps to elicits a feeling of strength and confidence. As you hold this pose using your breath, repeat the following mantra’ “I am strong and worthy”.
To come into Goddess, from Mountain pose, 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 the your thighs parallel to the mat. Keep your knees pointed in the same direction as your toes. Hold for several breaths.
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”.
To come into Warrior 2 from Mountain pose, 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 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”.
To do Pigeon pose, from a tabletop position, 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 is the ultimate relaxation pose in yoga. Use this time to cultivate self care and love for yourself; 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.
To do Savasana, 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.