Loving Yourself on Valentines Day (and every other day!)
Valentine’s day is most commonly known as a celebration of romantic love, but this is only a small branch of the vast and essential practice that is love as a whole. As our modern world becomes more and more connected, this practice becomes more and more important. Especially in the yoga field, we frequently hear the phrase “self love”, but what does that really mean? Self love is not just physical pampering, rest and recovery, or indulgence in the things that make us happy. This is a good place to start, but true self love is a deep and essential practice that extends from our own lives into each and every life we touch in the course of our day.
The good news is that we don’t have to do a complete overhaul of our lives to make space to love ourselves. There are small ways to build this practice that will have a lasting effect on both our personal experience and the world around us. We gathered some easy to incorporate practices and put them all together for you here!
“You have been criticizing yourself for years, and it hasn't worked. Try approving of yourself and see what happens.”
– Louise L. Hay
Our body is our temple and it is essential to care for it as it is our vessel in this world. Without a working car, we can’t experience the open road. Without a working body, we are unable t experience the freedom and beauty of physical sensation. Pampering ourselves physically is a beautiful way to honor the body. A great way to do this is to create a personal cleansing ritual.
To do this practice, draw yourself a warm bath or run a hot shower and add your favorite essential oils and bath salts (bonus points for adding bubbles). Then light some candles, put on your favorite music and allow yourself to RELAX. While cleansing, take the time to focus on each part of your body and send this area love. Take a little extra time and send lots of extra love to the areas of your body that you feel most critical of. If there’s tension or pain, find compassion and understanding for the parts of your body that need healing. The key for this practice is to NOT rush! When we slow down and stay present in the current moment, we become more connected to our bodies and this allows us to build a relationship with our physical self that is grounded in love.
“You are allowed to be both a masterpiece and a work in progress, simultaneously.”
― Sophia Bush
Nourishing our minds is another key aspect of our self love practice. Making sure we’re giving our brains something to focus on and new material to learn allows us to grow mentally and growth is important for loving ourselves. This part of our practice can be as simple as taking 30 minutes of the day to read a book we love or to listen to a new episode of our favorite podcast and can expand into taking a class we’ve always wanted to take but felt was out of our realm.
A wonderful way to practice this is to create a mini mind date for yourself! A few possible date ideas are to sign up for a painting course, take a cooking class or even just carve out time to sit with yourself and read something you’ve really been wanting to. By making time to stimulate your mind in new ways, you are showing yourself that you matter and are worthy of having the time to expand your knowledge which then helps you to connect with yourself lovingly on an intellectual level.
“When you recover or discover something that nourishes your soul and brings joy, care enough about yourself to make room for it in your life.”
– Jean Shinoda Bolen
Making Soul work a priority is one of the greatest gifts of love we can give ourselves. When we take the time to listen to our Souls and develop our connection, we give ourselves the tools to truly love and understand our personal wants and needs and through that, the wants and needs of others. This kind of understanding leads to us living a life that is fully aligned with who we are and that is filled with love. Connecting with your Soul can be done in a number of ways and usually happens when we’re doing something that lights us up and makes our soul the happiest!
This can include when we are creating art or when we go out dancing… whatever it is that makes us feel best! Another good option is to do a self love meditation. This can be done in as little as 5 minutes or can go for longer if you wish. To practice this meditation, find a quiet space where you won’t be disturbed. Light some candles, find a comfortable seat, close your eyes and begin to focus on your breath. Then, begin to repeat the mantra “I am enough. I am worthy. I am love.” to yourself. This can be done in your mind or out loud. Keep repeating this mantra while allowing whatever emotions may come up to be felt and released. Once you feel you are ready to end your meditation, you can close by bringing your hands together at your heart center and ending with by chanting “OM”.
The best thing about creating a body-mind-soul self love practice is that it can be practiced every day without disrupting your routine or having to do a complete life transformation. Start by introducing one simple practice for 5 minutes and see how your life changes. The best kind of love is the kind you can give yourself and that is the kind of love you deserve.
“When you adopt the viewpoint that there is nothing that exists that is not part of you, that there is no one who exists who is not part of you, that any judgment you make is self-judgment, that any criticism you level is self-criticism, you will wisely extend to yourself an unconditional love that will be the light of the world.”
– Harry Palmer
About the Author
Brooke Kathleen - Also known as the Unicorn Yogi, Brooke began practicing yoga in 2009. She moved to New York City for work in 2013 and her practice faded out due to the inconsistent hours. In 2017 she re-discovered her practice during a very intense and difficult series of events. After devoting herself to practice for another year she realized that she wanted to learn how to share the tools that yoga had given her to heal and grow with others. She found Vikasa online while researching and fell in love with the curriculum and location. The rest is history! New York, USA