What Yoga Has Taught Me About Self-Love

Romantic love, the love between siblings, the endearment you feel towards your friends, songs on the radio, the movie “Love Actually” really did have it right: love is all around us. But today I’m talking about, arguably, the most important love: self-love. It’s funny how self-love can be something everyone talks about and yet when it comes to practicing it can feel near impossible.

Unfortunately, I’m not here to tell you how to find self-love in three easy steps. I’m still figuring it out myself. My self-love search stems from my husband constantly asking me “why can’t you take a compliment? You always think there’s an ulterior motive behind someone saying something nice.” Flashbacks play through my mind of him telling me he loves my hair and me accusing him of mocking it; a stranger telling me I have a beautiful smile, and me staring in the mirror that same night wondering whether she was poking fun at my chubby cheeks. This year I had enough and set out on a mission to embrace my body - with hopes that self-love would be a natural result of the concentrated effort. 

I have practiced yoga since my second year of university. While it was more of a scheduled excuse to see one of my best friends weekly, the practice really grew on me. When I moved home, I continued to practice to counteract the stressful days working at our local TV station as an evening PA and nighttime director. When I started my job in health PR, I fell away from yoga, but it wasn’t long before I was back to sun salutations with my close friend. 

Somewhere between getting engaged, married and moving to America (in less than six months), I lost my practice. It wasn’t until I was having a particularly dreary day that I decided to dust off my mat and curl into one of my favourite at-home sequences. My memory was a bit dusty and the practice a bit jagged, but what truly alarmed me was how much my flexibility and endurance had escaped me. Sure, I’d been exercising, but I hadn't done anything remotely close to yoga for more than eight months - and it showed. 

Since this discovery, I committed to practicing yoga five days a week, whether it was an hour-long hot yoga practice at a studio or a 20-minute restorative practice at home after a run outdoors. I have stuck to this commitment for three months and I’m feeling a lot more love for my body because of it. I still catch myself staring in the mirror, but rather than pointing out my flaws, I focus on the areas that I truly love. While I used to hate my stomach area, I’m slowly learning to respect that it is the foundation of many challenging yoga poses. 

While everyone has these insecurities, I’m proud of the progress I’ve made and attribute this newfound kindness to those times when I rolled out my mat and got to practicing rather than wallowing in negativity. While I still have a long way to go, I’ve begun to appreciate the process and give my body time. My practice isn’t even close to what it used to be, but I find motivation in those little details, knowing each time I try, I’m a little bit closer to finding comfort in my old favourite poses, embracing just a little bit more of my body as it is in that moment.