April 6, 2014

Yoga is Self Love. ~ Hannah Hilton


People can call people who practice yoga hippies and I am completely fine with that—I appreciate the compliment.

If you’ve never been around a bunch of yogis/yoginis, then you may not understand the peace that comes from being in a hot sweaty room filled with 5-40 strangers who have just completed an intense physical and spiritual journey on that magic yoga mat. The moment I felt that, I understood true gratitude, true peace within my self, and the most important for me, self-love.

I started one Monday night, randomly taking a bikram class with a friend. The yoga high I got after that class was indescribable. Upon leaving, they told me about a 30 day challenge—30 yoga classes in 30 days. I thought, heck, sign me up! So I began my journey—those 30 days I experience the most growth I have ever felt within myself—physically, spiritually, and emotionally.

From that point on, I took many more classes, finding myself in the postures, sweat, heat, and in love with the community of yogis/yoginis. One teacher in particular—I call her my mentor—focused more on the spirituality. The true journey of finding myself through yoga in which I learned who my true self was. She encouraged me when I wanted to give up, and her loving and nurturing character comforted me when I needed it most.

She helped me find the path to loving my mind, my heart, my soul, and my body.

Yoga saved me from myself. I was in a dark place, fearful of all the change coming my way, the idea of being alone, the pain and heartbreak of divorce, picking up the pieces and rebuilding myself.

Would anyone ever love me again? Why didn’t it work out? What could I have done differently? Why didn’t I do it differently? The list went on and on, but those cynical thoughts no longer matter.

When I strip away the emotions and analyze the questions of how I felt in those dark moments, I realized it ultimately boiled down to one thing—I did not love myself enough to be content with being alone.

I had spent my entire life being who I thought other people wanted me to be; therefore always having someone, but never having myself. It was not anyone else that made me feel inferior—it was my own ego.

If I never truly learned to love myself, how could I expect myself to love others or for others to fully love me?

I’m still on the journey—it does not end until we take our last breath. I now know gratitude from witnessing my fellow classmates thank our instructor for encouraging us, being thankful for the time we spent on the mat together, for the prayers and positive thoughts given to us in that moment, and for the ability to be egoless in a world where ego drives most.

I now know true peace within myself from laying in savasana after class—relaxing and letting go of the hard work I put in, letting go of that journey and allowing the Universe to guide me to where I am supposed to be next. I know that when my mind is rambling and my heart is hurting, that I need to take a few minutes and open up my body through yoga. I can do a few poses and feel what is true and real: my breath, my body, my soul.

I now know self-love, and I am thankful for everything that makes me uniquely me—the good, the bad, the ugly. I love my mind for all that it can comprehend, all that it can learn, and all that it struggles with. I love my heart for its never ending ability to see the potential in everyone. I love my soul for its ability to pick up the pieces and move on when it is ready, even when I struggle with patience.

I love my body for waking every morning, breathing every second, embracing Mother Nature, music, and good food. I can honestly say now I love myself. It’s not a self-centered, narcissistic, conceited, egotistical thing to do—it’s a healthy love that will only help further my capacity to love other souls.

Through this journey, I can speak Namaste with truth.

“I honor the place in you where Spirit lives, I honor the place in you which is of Love, of Truth, of Light, of Peace, when you are in that place in you, and I am in that place in me, then we are One.”

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Photo: elephant archives

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