If you are someone who finds it easy to extend love and kindness to those around you, but aren't so good at giving this positive attention to yourself, then you are not alone! It can often feel so effortless to nurture those we love, whilst self-love can be much harder to understand and make the time for.
There are certainly a number of different ways to practice self-care and to actively love yourself. You may find that some self-care acts are easier to engage with often, whereas some other concepts might be much harder to embrace and not really work for you in the long-term.
Understanding your strengths and deciding to work on your perceived weaknesses when it comes to self-care is all it takes to move forwards with these ideas.
Today I want to share why a regular yoga practice can double up as a serious self-care act, and in turn encourage you to be kinder and more forgiving towards yourself. These tools can also extend way past your yoga mat and your own mind, and flow back into the cycle of how you take care of those around you.
As you push ahead with a regular yoga practice you will of course come up against challenges — both in terms of your physical abilities and your emotional response to the tasks you set.
Moving through these challenges — and knowing when it's best to take a step back and have a break — is a great way to extend compassion towards yourself.
Compassion and kindness go hand in hand, and when you learn how to embrace one, you will find that the other naturally follows.
Treating yourself with kindness is absolutely essential because it will mean that you are better able to avoid stress and overwhelm. You will be more inclined to a calmer and more relaxed outlook on your life, and this will inevitably also become true of your relationships with other people.
When you are trying to push through a new pose, or hold your body in position for longer periods of time, it is normal that you might feel some frustration. You might be annoyed at yourself and your body for not being where you want to be yet, and you may become critical of your own skills and abilities.
You will soon learn that there is no benefit to judging yourself in this way, and that you are always exactly where you need to be for a reason. If you are not ready to progress yet then you simply aren't ready!
Focus on building up your practice in small and manageable ways, and you will soon find that this equates to big changes without even really noticing!
Showing your mind that this self-judgement is neither helpful or necessary will help you to stop judging yourself in other areas of your life too.
Connect To Your Purpose
As you are practicing yoga it is normal that your mind will drift to the reasons that you first embarked upon your practice. This could be for one particular reason or a number of different reasons. Perhaps you wanted to enhance your physical strength or carve out a peaceful stress-busting space for yourself.
Reconnecting to this purpose when you are practicing yoga will help you to remember that you did this for yourself. That you put yourself first and you found a way to work towards your own goals.
When you show up on the mat, you are also showing up for yourself. You are prioritising your goals and your own self-care. So if your mind isn't going to these thoughts naturally, then encourage yourself to think on these reasons and to celebrate the fact that you continue to show up.
Yoga helps you to find balance in other areas of your life as it gives the mind a taster of what this kind of self-love looks like.
When you get into the habit of a regular practice, you will also undoubtedly start to look to other areas of your life where you can make changes and improvements. You could be more inclined to eat a healthier, more balanced diet. This is something that tends to go hand in hand with yoga as you begin to better understand your body and its capabilities.
As you begin to feel more at peace, you are likely to avoid stressful situations and negative relationships. You will understand that you can live a peaceful life surrounded by people who have your best intentions at heart — and that all starts by having your own best intentions at the core of everything you do!
Click to read more about how yoga can help you to balance your mind!
This is such an important concept in all parts of your life, not just on the yoga mat. If you do not know what your limits are, then there's no way for you to respect them or for other people to respect them!
When you arrive on the mat, take a moment to set your intention for each session and also to remind yourself of what your boundaries on the mat are too. What are you trying to achieve with this session? What will you be happy to accomplish in the time you are about to spend on the mat? What do you want to avoid?
Work to slowly build up your understanding of this concept through yoga, and this can then become more integral in other parts of your life.
Setting boundaries with other people isn't just a great way to express your limits to these people, but also to remind yourself that your wants matter and deserve respect.
Having additional support as you invite positive change into your life — such as learning how to nurture yourself through yoga — is a great way to stay on track.
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