February is the month of love, so what better time to begin (or re-kindle) a love affair with yourself through the practice of yoga…
Why do so many of us struggle to love and accept ourselves? In a world that constantly tells us to ‘love ourselves first’ and that before we can truly be happy we MUST learn to love ourselves; why are so many of us in unhappy, unloving relationships with ourselves?
The answer is simple: many of us don’t know how to accept and love ourselves for who we are.
Every day we are constantly bombarded with images and advertising that tell us we are not good enough. The media dictates how we behave, it tells us what we should wear and how we should look, and if we don’t meet these impossible standards we’re told that we need to change in order to ‘better ourselves’! It’s no wonder so many of us carry around such negative feelings!
Whether it’s directed towards our bodies or our minds, we constantly judge ourselves and, more often than not, these judgements are negative; compounded by negative self-talk and constant comparisons to others we view as ‘better’ than us.
Don’t Change For Anyone But Yourself
Now I’m not saying that change is a bad thing, far from it! Those that wish to make better, healthier, choices in their lives and are doing so for themselves and not to please others are,
In my opinion, already on the path to self-acceptance and ultimately self-love. But, for many people the wish or perceived need to ‘change’ who we are, to be a ‘better’ or different person, is dictated by a society that demands conformity.
I have been on my own journey of acceptance, both of myself and of my work, and I know from experience that the path does not always run smoothly. In trying to conform, in trying to be accepted by others over myself, I side stepped who I was and what I was all about. It took me a while to realise that I do not need acceptance from anyone except myself. Once I realised this, I found myself enjoying teaching so much more and I am now doing more things, trying new things and saying new things!
If you feel that your desire to change is not your own, maybe it’s time to take a moment to step back, breathe and allow yourself the time to rediscover and embrace all the things you ARE, rather than focussing on what you are NOT.
Embrace Yoga And Begin A Love Affair With Yourself
In order to love ourselves, we must look after ourselves and this requires action, after all ‘love is a verb’! Yes, ‘love’ is a feeling, a noun, but it is also a verb and in order to truly love ourselves we need to take action. Think of all the little things you do for those you love and care about; your partner, your children, your family, your friends… Now think about what do you do for yourself to express the same feelings?
Practicing self-care, allowing yourself to take some time for you without feeling guilty, is really important. For me, this is where yoga comes in. Yoga teaches us to connect with our feelings, both emotional and physical, on a deeper level. It helps us become more aware of our whole selves and in turn, become more accepting of our current situation, whether we are happy with it or not!
There are dozens of variations of yoga, mindfulness, meditation and breathwork that are ideal for helping you on the path to self-love and acceptance, but ultimately it comes down to you. While modern day yoga is generally classed as a group exercise, it’s actually a very individual practice. It’s about training and reconnecting to your body and mind to boost your energy and wellbeing. It’s about harmony, love, acceptance, strength; it’s about your journey. Only you can decide to embrace and accept your own style and, eventually, love yourself for everything you are.
For me, teaching and practicing Freestyle Fitness Yoga has always been a labour of love. I struggled for many years to have Freestyle Fitness Yoga accepted when really all I needed to do was accept that this is my style, and embrace it for all its individuality. It hasn’t been an easy journey, but Freestyle Fitness Yoga allows me to connect my passion for yoga and fitness and is something that is really, truly me.
[thought this would be a good section of videos to link to for this article – I’ve linked to a couple of individual videos to in the article]
This post was written by Jayne Nicholls, founder and director of Group X Training, creator of ‘Freestyle Fitness Yoga’, writer and pioneer. Jayne has spent a lifetime moving to music and has been in the industry for 25 years, initially in fitness before moving into yoga 16 years ago. Creator of ‘Freestyle Fitness Yoga’ and Virgin Active’s ‘Nova’ workout, Jayne now helps others “be the best that they can be” by providing the very best training and industry standard qualifications in Yoga & Fitness. If you would like to take your yoga practice a step further and see how you could make your passion your profession, why not consider training to become a fully qualified yoga instructor?