Do your Valentine’s Day plans help you to feel the love for the most important person in your life? That’s right, that means you! MFML teacher Jonelle Lewis sheds light on how you can love yourself more this Valentine’s Day.
Valentine’s Day. What does it mean to you? A flutter of cards down onto the mat, a bunch of flowers at work, or just another day of the year? How about taking a moment to direct some of that loving energy that’s floating about to a most deserving recipient – yourself. Because guess what? We are here to deliver you a very important message (call us cupid). You are absolutely perfect, just as you are. Show yourself some self-love on Valentine’s Day. That’s a message that MFML teacher, (and December OM Magazine cover star) Jonelle Lewis is joining us in shouting loud and clear.
True beauty, wellbeing and the beauty industry
Jonelle wants the wellness industry to take a long hard look at itself, and reject narrow beauty standards along with the pressures that come with that. “If yoga is about wellness, perpetuating beauty standards that some people, because of their DNA, are never going to be able to achieve, who is that helping? It’s not making people well, it’s making people sick. Stop it,” she says. “We talk about what the beauty standard is, I’ve done a lot of personal work and I reject it. I’m beautiful, you’re beautiful, each of us are the way we were born, and it’s fine, and it’s enough. To try to get people be other than what they are is violent and does not serve anyone.”
Valentine’s Day message
She has a message for so-called wellness operators who seem more focused on an Instagram-perfect ideal than on healing and growing from the inside. She says: “You can’t say you’re in wellness if you’re teaching people to hate themselves if they can’t look a certain way, fit into your leggings or come to your studio.”
While Valentine’s Day can be a exciting day of love for some, for others it can provoke loneliness or insecurity. Try not to let anxieties cloud your own self-worth. Jonelle has a helpful way of cutting through the many distractions that can arise when meditating on major life plans. “The base question I ask when I’m making any big contemplation or change is ‘who does it serve?’ If the answer is no one, then it needs fixing!”
A Journey to Self-Love
Jonelle’s own journey into yoga began when she dipped into classes at university in Washington DC, and when she was pregnant with her daughter. Later, going through a painful divorce, she remembered how those classes had made her feel, and started going to her local studio in London, where she found a diverse array of yogis.
“There were all types of people,” she says. “Lots of older ladies, black people, brown people, men, whoever. There were so many different types of bodies, I never thought I was out of place.”
Wellness and inclusivity
But when she came to do her own teacher training, she found herself the only person of colour, and began to see that the wider wellness industry was focused on a slim, youthful white ideal. As a teacher, she’s found that not all studios are as welcoming as her initial local Buddhist centre – and has even taken fellow women of colour with her to classes, because of what she calls micro-aggressions and an unwelcoming atmosphere. Which means that when OM Magazine chose to feature photos of Jonelle from a MFML shoot, by photographer Karen Yeomans on its cover in December, it was hugely meaningful, and marked a step-change in the industry. “It had not really dawned on me what it would mean to people,” says Jonelle, who found herself deluged by notes of congratulations. She says that the response is proof that people want to see a wellness industry that’s genuinely inclusive. “No one wants it to be the other way,” she says.
“Most people have realised that the portrayal of the only people to do yoga as white, thin and young is not representative of what is really happening. I just feel like people are ready to have something that’s more like what’s happening in the real world.”
Whatever your age, gender, colour or creed, today is a great day to remind yourself that you are perfect, just the way you are. So put your PJs on, choose a class, and celebrate the skin you’re already in with some self-care and love that’s just for you.
>>Show yourself some love with this evening Yin/Yang Flow with Jonelle<<