Yoga & Self-love

When I think of ­Self-love & Yoga, I'm reminded of a definition of yoga that states “ Yoga is to attain what was previously unattainable... that there is something that we are today unable to do”- T.K.V. Desikachar. I’m not saying that self-love is unattainable, but that loving yourself and accepting yourself is or can be difficult. It becomes a challenge to attain self-love in a society that constantly fetishizes, marginalizes, and criticizes black bodies. Especially, within the black community where mental health issues and help are dismissed.  That finding a piece of positivity can be hard on the days when things seem heavy, stressed, or when you question and doubt yourself. That establishing and maintaining self-love on an individual and community level tends to be an obstacle. Often times leaving people looking outward for answers (validation) that are embedded within us. Although, there are many resources dedicated to providing insight on how to embody and embrace self-love, but if you don't put forth any effort there won't be any change. 

Yoga is the change; that effort (action/movement) you implement to gain a better understanding of yourself and others. In practicing yoga we open ourselves to the chance to see (gain perspective); to see inside ourselves. When you establish a practice, learn, and discuss yoga you are given the opportunity to recognize yourself better. Since I’ve been practicing Bikram Yoga, I see that I am becoming transparent with myself, meaning that I am more in tuned with my own feelings both good and bad. I am learning to be more honest with myself (sometimes too honest), but it allows me to acknowledge the things I need to strengthen and things I need to work through. I have a better understanding of how I am, accepting it, loving myself for it or despite it. I’ve gained a sense of awareness that helps me be kinder and gentler to myself and others. In embarking on a yoga journey, you simultaneously begin a journey towards self-love.

 The common thread between yoga and self-love is: that one seeks in order to better themselves. When we work on ourselves and learn to love (begin to fall in love with yourself) you are able to help and show love to others. You commit to establishing, supporting, and maintaining your own overall health and wellness. You begin to see yourself with clarity. Another commonality is that both of these journeys depend on consistent practice:

  • On the mat and off the mat
  •  Showing yourself kindness
  • Being honest with yourself
  • Reinforcing good habits, thoughts, and activities
  • Living and loving without misconceptions about yourself

Lauren B. Solomon, of Lotus.Sol.Yogi described the root of a yogi's journey, but it can also be applied to one's  self-love journey: 

"Your journey will require consistent practice. Unlike Most things, diligence in yoga will not lead to mastery; the practice of yoga is not something to be "mastered". Instead, the fruits of your diligent practice will be evidenced by the continuous evolution of mind, body, and spirit. As yogis, we are {eternal} students. "

 Yoga motivates you to love and accept yourself because that is rooted in the essence of yoga. Yoga begins the moment you accept yourself as you and where you are; you willingly decide to practice the yoga ( love) as best as you can, as often as you can. Then you see and feel the growth: you move forward, build on what you learn, enhancing how you live and how you see life.

Do you see how yoga promotes and relates to self-love as well as self-care?

What does yoga & self-love mean to you?