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September 27, 2014

9 Ways Yoga Teaches Us to Love Ourselves. ~ Carolyn Gladd

Jillian/Flickr

I’m a bit taller than the average girl.

I used to slouch my back and slump my shoulders so boys could be taller than me. I felt large when I wanted to be cute and small. Nobody would let me forget my insecurity; people would constantly comment on my height, not knowing that I wished to be few inches shorter.

It took me a couple years after I stopped growing to finally accept my height and appreciate everything else about my body—it is mine, after all.

I thank yoga for how I learned how to appreciate and unconditionally love myself, and my body, just the way it is.

Yoga is not only beneficial for sweating out toxins in a hot room and twisting and cleansing your spine and internal organs—it also helps people all over the world, including me, be more comfortable with their own bodies, and live more mindfully.

Here are a few ways yoga has done this for me:

1.) Move to your own breath.

In yoga, you move to the inhales and exhales of your own body. It gives you a chance to  really connect with yourself, acknowledging your instinctive breath, and observing the beauty of the effortless flow of air that keeps you alive.

You’ll thank your lungs for keeping yourself alive so easily, and love each breath, because that air is yours. You can hold it inside you for as long as you want, and release it gently, or with force.

Just taking the time to observe the way you breathe is calming, and lets you be more aware of your body’s senses.

2.) Savasana is all about surrender.

At the end of your yoga practice, there is time to lay on your back and let your racing heart slow down in corpse pose. This is the moment that allows you to let everything go. Don’t worry about what shoes you are going to wear tonight or your three tests tomorrow—just let your body recover from your practice and appreciate your being.

3.) Your mat is always there.

No matter what. It’s comforting to be able to live with yourself, and have intimacy with your own company.

4.) Be in the moment.

Yoga forces you to live in the moment, forget your silly insecurities and concentrate fully on trying to balance on your tippy toes.

Try to dwell on your broken car while you are holding your foot in side plank—it’s impossible!

5.) It’s not a competition.

Even if your neighbor is power flowing like she was born doing yoga and you are struggling to touch your toes, yoga is not a competition with anyone. It is time for you to be completely focused on yourself, and admiring what the back of your legs feel like when you are reaching for your toes, rather than looking around the room comparing yourself to others.

6.) Embrace difficult transitions.

Kicking up to a handstand from warrior three is quite a challenge. As you fall over, you’ll have nothing to do but laugh at yourself. These tough transitions can relate to your everyday life, too. The next time you get a call from your boss firing you, you’ll accept the change, and eventually giggle about it like you did when you toppled over in class.

7.) Get stronger.

Yoga is a good workout, and it is fun! Who doesn’t want to have harder abs, strong legs and arms that can hold your body weight?

8.) Set an intention.

In the beginning of every class, you have the opportunity to set a purpose for your practice. What you need that day usually comes to you with ease—practice with peace, quiet, love or someone in your life in mind.

This is very helpful to create energy in any area of your life.

9.) Acceptance.

As you lay in pigeon pose, you will accept and appreciate the glorious, sensual sensations that twinge through your hips.

There is no forcing your body to go further than it wants to, and you will be happy absorbing the feeling of the pose, just the way you are.

It doesn’t matter how tall or short, chubby, thin, or hairy you are—that is how you are supposed to be.

 

 

~

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Editor: Emily Bartran

Photo: Jillian/Flickr

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Carolyn Gladd