For you I would rename this picture “Je m’aime”
If there’s one little itty-bitty thing you could do in the name of LOVE, the true meaning behind this hallmark-ridden holiday, it would be to love yourself; just a smidgen. Even if you are, at this moment, the most loathsome person in the world, it would be of great benefit for you to love yourself.
I was in yoga class today, almost having skipped it in favor of working on this very blog, when lo and behold I was inspired. Actually, it doesn’t take that much for me to be inspired (especially in yoga class). But today is a hard day for me, as it is for many others. So when my beautiful teacher Shawna Suzyn started off the class asking who was a fan of this holiday and saw that many in our packed class weren’t, she began extolling the virtues of a holiday made for yogis. What better things to celebrate than opening the heart, giving and receiving love, and most importantly loving yourself.
Within minutes my curmudgeon melted away and I was fully open and present for my practice–MY glorious practice, the thing I do for no one else but me that always makes me feel better about myself and the state of the union. This thing that I do, somewhat regularly and not nearly enough, is the foundation of how I care for myself DEEPLY (I had been doing yoga for years before I became a meditator). And you can work through some serious mental bull$h!t while you’re on the mat (bonus!).
Roar like a Lion
Shawna’s class had a beautiful warrior flow embodying strength and grace deepened with many heart opening poses. And she encouraged us to let go of any emotion that may be holding us back in life and in our practice with the Lion’s Breath. I highly recommend trying this one at home. In fact it’s easier to really get into it when alone. You can do the Lion’s Breath in many postures, for example the Fish Pose is a classic one to incorporate Lion’s Breath because your throat is so open. I like to do Lion’s Breath in the Cow portion of the Cat/Cow Pose:
- while on hands and knees in tabletop position inhale to make the Cat by arching your back and letting your head hang
- then let your belly fall and raise your head and arse to the sky to make the Cow
- while in this position open your mouth wide and stick your tongue out and flatten it down breathing out forcefully and audibly (resembling, I think, some sort of demon rather than a lion)
- intentionally let go of something icky and sticky through this gesture. I like to go with basic emotions like fear, self-loathing, or insecurity. You can use whatever you like.
Now see if that doesn’t lighten your load just a bit. And darn it if I didn’t love myself just a little more after class. I had forgotten about all the crappy Valentine’s Days I’d had in the past and was very glad that there is a day devoted to love; the most important form, of course, is loving myself.