Yoga has been defining our lives for quite some time. It has been a popular topic over the last few decades, defining trends and fashion, wellbeing, and mindfulness. Yoga has been discussed on television and radio stations, covered by magazines and newspapers, practiced by men and women, young and elderly. A favorite topic and activity shared between friends and relatives, but also strangers.
What is Yoga?
Yoga is an ancient practice of Indian tradition that originally goes beyond the physical benefits that are presently known to us. Yoga's physical aspects focus on strength, flexibility, achieved through deeper breath-work to boost overall wellbeing. The main components of yoga are postures (asanas) and breathing techniques (pranayama).
In today's world, it is almost impossible to carry on with the traditional yogic practices, and so these have been adapted to accommodate our busy lifestyle. Most people begin their yoga journey seeking reconnection to their physical bodies - to gain strength, ease pain or cure injuries.
The Benefits of Yoga Practice
Following a regular yoga practice not only do we begin to notice the physical benefits, but we also begin to feel happier and in a way 'hooked' on the regular practice. A person may also experience deeper feelings of connection to oneself: the body and the mind. This is why yoga can be such a great tool towards a better relationship with ourselves. It is completely due to the connections we experience when we roll out our mat and spend some quality time with ourselves. Observing our feelings and emotions, rather than suppressing them, and therefore using yoga as a sort of a magical tool for self-love.
Of course, you can go to a yoga class, follow the whole routine while thinking about everything you haven't had time get done and all that you're yet to do, feel like you have accomplished some physical activity but not really feeling relaxed or 'at peace' as yoga claims to make you feel. This is where the approach and the effort we put into the things we do becomes important.
During activities such as yoga and meditation, it is necessary to try to control the mind. To observe the thoughts and feelings that arise, but not necessarily react to them. Activities such as running, adrenaline sports or even sex are often intense enough allowing us to stay in the present moment, without putting in too much effort. Whereas with yoga a little effort and participation are required.
Yoga and Self-love
A mindful yoga can be especially helpful when seeking reconnection and finding the self. Observing our feelings with love and patience, trying to understand where they come from and what triggers them, comforting ourselves, acknowledging our efforts and gains, these are all acts of self-love.
Practicing yoga as a tool for self-love, will not only make you feel happier, it will also help your body to be healthier.
Mental pain and past trauma often gets stored in our bodies and can, later on, arise in the form of an injury or chronic pain. Acknowledging and facing our feelings and raw emotions as they are, can therefore not only heal your mental struggles but also cure your physical wellbeing.
Tips for Self-loving Yoga Practice:
- Set your intentions before your practice
- Observe how your body feels in each and every posture
- Be aware and practice mindful movement
- Do certain asanas bring up any particular emotions?
- Witness your emotions and feelings without judgment
- Use your breath to help you find comfort in the uncomfortable
- Try to stay present by paying attention to small details
- Watch your thoughts arise and allow them to pass
- Compliment yourself during your practice
- Express gratitude after your practice
To really experience the benefits and see the magic happen a regular practice is a way to go. Find the time to check in with yourself and truly listen to the heart, create space for the good things and release the things that no longer serve you. Value and appreciate - that's self-love.
Written by Veronika Blanar