(model elise joane)
Yoga is not just what happens in class on a mat, yoga is a way of life. When you cultivate self-love and acceptance on the mat, it is easier to permeate love and reverence into every aspect of your life. I have learned in Rishikesh that yoga is not just for increasing flexibility of the body, but also about becoming more flexible in the mind.
Yoga is the effort that you put forth to create true effortlessness in your life. Through participating in a 300 hour hatha yoga teacher training in Rishikesh, India, I have developed 10 practices that encouraged me to bring more self-love into my hatha
practice and be more present in my life.
1.Breathe in and imagine light flowing in from the top of your head through your hands and into your body. Send love through your hands to any place that you touch on your body. If you are in a seated forward fold and you are reaching for your feet send love to them. Whenever you touch your body, always send your love.
2.Love and accept any part of yourself that you normally do not, whether it is your belly or your hips. Make the decision even if it is just for this one hour to love every single part of who you are. Send love to your belly, even if it is not as flat as you want it to be. Every part of your being is perfect just the way it is. Take time to love and accept yourself just as you are.
3.Allow yourself to be loved and taken care of. When you are in relaxing in Shavasana, final relaxation pose, imagine that your body is a sponge soaking up love and light. Let yourself be supported by the ground as you open to receive love in every cell of your body.
4.Remember that yoga is not a flexibility competition. Do not worry if your neighbor is stretching further than you. The sign of a real advanced yoga practitioner is not the one who stretches the furthest into the pose, but the one who stays with the breath throughout the practice. This is time just for you, remain focused on yourself. Radiate blessings to all those around you but do not compare your practice with anyone.
5.Yoga is about trying to become flexible in the mind, to create choice. Do not judge yourself if thoughts come up. Be the awareness behind the thoughts. If you become mindful of any thoughts of not feeling good enough or of being too hard on yourself, send those thoughts love as you let them go. Awareness is the first step towards transformation. Mindfulness generates choice, which gives you the opportunity to begin creating more loving and supportive thoughts.
6.Oxygen is the best natural antioxidant for humans. I believe that there is divine love and wisdom in the breath. During pranayama, breathing exercises, really fill yourself with this light and allow your cells to be nourished. The breath calms the mind and a calm mind invokes an open heart. The breath also relaxes your nervous system so you can open more fully during Asana, yoga postures.
7.Work with a mantra or affirmation. Repeat silently during your practice: I love and accept myself just as I am. I also really enjoy softly saying I love you to myself as I move from posture to posture during sun salutations.
8.In Meditation feel love beating from your heart. The color green is the color of the heart chakra and represents healing. As you breathe, imagine green light expanding from the heart into every cell of your body.
9.Accept where you are and thank your body for being just as it is. Even if your hips are not as open as you want them to be, love them anyways. If you practice proper breathing and alignment you will get there, it just takes patience. Love yourself during the journey not just when you reach the destination. Love yourself NOW, not later.
10.The truth is that you are LOVE. You cannot be anything other than what you are. At one point or another we have all put veils or walls of fear over our hearts, these walls of fear can take the form of anger, shame, guilt, and competition. Yoga practice creates awareness of your true nature. Allow your fears to come up as they are only illusions. If fear comes up accept and love it as you let it go. Rumi said it perfectly, “Your task is not to seek for Love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.” As these veils lift you will see that you always have been and always will be pure love.