Michelle and I talk about the practice of movement. Focusing on Yoga, she shares how her practice has healed and guided her along her journey. We also discuss how movement connects our mind, body and spirit and how it can be a vehicle for deeper connection.
Yin Yoga connects us to our feminine side, our “being” side. It is a deep and passive practice, where yogi’s hold the poses for longer periods to work into the deeper tissue and joints while focusing the mind.
Nadia Engelbrecht talks to Sarah Evans about Yin Yoga and how you can begin your own practice today.
Love yourself, change your life!
Do you have health goals? To drop some weight, just eat more salad or start running again? Do you take pride in your appearance and consider what you’re wearing, how your hair and make-up is done, and do you actively look for situations that make you feel good?
I’m sure you do. Many of strive for some change in ourselves. Some shift in growth or gain that will improve our lives and be that magic button that makes us feel and look incredible all the time.
Now all of this is great when done in a healthy way, but all too often we overdo it or push too hard and then, no matter what you do, nothing feels good anymore. That brings me to the overall point of this piece: Balance.
Remember the Yin-Yang symbol (made famous in the 90’s)? A circle, with one-half black, the other white and a dot of the opposite colour present in the respective half. As you probably know, this symbol represents Balance, but not of dark and light or good and bad.
Yang and Yin represent the two sides/ energies in each of us. Yang is masculine, action, drive, momentum, while Yin is feminine, being, compassion, kindness, love and nurturing. Most of us are very familiar with our Yang side. We set goals and put one foot in front of the next until we get there. It may be painful, but we push through nonetheless.
While this is amazing, the constant drive can also be draining and demanding on us and if you are a type-a kinda-girl, you will know that eventually you just can’t go anymore. You push and push yourself, but then you hit a wall and the next step is either too scary, too big or causes anxiety that paralyzes you.
Why is this? Why can we do so well for so long and then suddenly feel like the world is caving in? The answer is simple: we are imbalanced and before we can proceed (in a healthy and conscious way) we must first restore balance within ourselves. How do we do that? By taking time to nourish ourselves, being compassionate and kind to ourselves and through that love for our Being, we restore our balance, enabling us to once again take action and grow further.
You see, your Being is the part of you that receives love and energy and without filling your cup (so to speak) you end up with an empty vessel with nothing left to give. This does not serve you, your loved ones, your career, your health or any other area of your life. For this reason, it is essential to spend time focusing on nourishing your Being to restore your balance.
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The good news is that doing so, does not require a 6-week retreat in Bali (I wish!) You can start today with these three easy steps to loving yourself and glowing from within:
Step 1: Acceptance:
This first step is the hardest, but it is also the most powerful shift our can make. Your body is a vehicle through which you experience life and the way you experience it is largely determined by your perception of your place in it. If you see your body, face, thighs, skin, personality, hair or your laugh as a curse, you will struggle to enjoy your experience because you will be hiding a part of yourself. When you do that you tell your mind and body that you’re ugly, shameful, not worthy.
By accepting where you are, and embracing the skin you’re in, you do the opposite. You tell your body and mind that you are worthy, you are lovely, enough, gorgeous and worth more. Acceptance does not mean that you ignore our health goals or stop your plans, it simply means that you love and accept yourself regardless of your current state. If you are working on losing weight, you can love your body before you reach your ultimate goal. There is no rule that says you can only love yourself when you reach it.
That brings me to step 2…
Step 2: Appreciation:
The easiest way to acceptance is appreciation, which (not-so-coincidentally) is step 2. Before I tell you how, I want to share WHY you should love, appreciate and celebrate all of you. When you look in the mirror, it is all too easy to judge and be mean to yourself. “My hips are too wide, my legs are too short, why is my nose so weird…” Rather, have you ever thought how incredibly powerful, yet delicate; intricate, yet strong; free, yet purposeful your body is? This vehicle has developed and grown since your infancy, gaining knowledge, experience and strength along the way. Today it is immensely capable. Your senses allow you to experience the world through sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch. In fact, your sense of smell has the power to propel you to a memory from your childhood in less than a second. AMAZING!
Your body and all its parts serve you in ways you take for granted every day. If you are able bodied that means you can walk. That’s right, your two legs, that you are oh-so cruel to are the things that allow you to freely and effortlessly move about. They are a magnificent miracle that adds priceless value to your life. Your hips form part of your pelvis that connects the bottom and top of your body. Because of this part of your body, you’re able to multitask (drink a coffee, while walking, for example.) This incredible part of your body provides stability and strength enabling you to carry and birth life into this world. Your strong arms protect and comfort at the same time. They lift you up and keep those near you close. Your face is where your soul expresses your inner beauty. It is where you shine your beautiful light, allowing those around you to understand you, share with you, be around you and love you.
The very precise way that you are built gives you a particular perspective, with a unique skill set to empathize with a certain type of person, to understand the world in a way only you can and, therefore, to tell a story of the “same experience” in a way that only you can.
With all of this in mind, I want to you stop all of this hate and negativity and shift to love and appreciation. Next time you look in the mirror and you see something you don’t like, shift your focus to what you love about it, what you can appreciate about it.
However, if you’re finding it difficult to suddenly be all sunshine and rainbows about something you’ve been negative about for so long, that’s completely okay. I am not expecting an immediate 180. But girl, there has to be something you can appreciate. It doesn’t have to be something you can see. It can be that you are grateful for the strength in your legs or the fact that you can hear your baby laugh.
Make this a habit. Every time you look in a mirror, choose one thing to love, appreciate and celebrate about your body, face, hair, outfit. I mean every time. In the morning there are a number of moments as you are getting ready for the day, each time you use the restroom throughout the day and as you are getting ready for bed and your make up is off, repeat the following to yourself in the mirror, “Thank you for your beauty and your strength. You are worthy, and I love you.”
Develop mad love for yourself, because you are SOOOOO worth it!
Step 3: Softness:
The last step is to cultivate a sense of softness into the way you interact with yourself. Nobody is perfect. We all have flaws and we all fall down from time-to-time. For some reason, we understand this for other people but can be very harsh with ourselves when we make a mistake or slip on our health goals. Think about it. If your best friend makes a mistake, no matter how big or ridiculous, you are there to console her. You tell her it’s okay and that one mistake is nothing to get upset about. You tell her that she is beautiful and powerful and that she will do better tomorrow. This is compassion and kindness and how you should talk to yourself if something doesn’t go perfectly; if you fall down or make a mistake. Forgive yourself and take care of yourself. Be your own bestie.
Following these three steps helps you cultivate mad love for yourself and then even more incredible and unexpected things start happening. When you love and respect yourself, you naturally start making choices aligned with this new reality, because you’ve had a taste of this good feeling and you want more. You eat better food that not only tastes great but makes you feel nourished and energized and you will avoid people and activities that no longer support your new way of being. In turn, you will find yourself with a life filled with more of what you love, more respect and more abundance, purely because you chose to see yourself as a precious, irreplaceable gift to the world.
Listen to your body. Hear the call of your Being and spend time taking caring of yourself: nourishing your soul and your body with love and appreciation. Every time you choose to fill your energy cup with love, you restore your inner balance and you are able to give and do more. You are worth it, not only for you but for everyone your life touches. Love yourself.