Yoga As Self-Love

Longing for Change, Interview with Risa Kawamoto
how to use yoga for self love

Yoga as self love

According to the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services National Institute of Health, yoga can improve your quality of life. It can reduce stress levels. Yoga has been proven to lower blood pressure and heart rate. It has also been found to reduce or even relieve anxiety, insomnia, and depression. Physically, yoga can also improve flexibility, strength and physical fitness.

What is yoga?

For the better part of our days, our attention is focused outward. We focus on our jobs, our children, our bank accounts, our relationships with friends and family. Yoga can mean shifting focus inward – to self. Yoga is so much more than poses, yoga is a means to harmonize mind, body, and breath, through breathing techniques, postures, and meditation.

Where do I start?

Equipment

Starting a yoga practice does not have to be expensive. You should purchase a quality yoga mat, because your safety is paramount and a yoga mat will keep you from slipping. Other common yoga tools include blocks and a strap. The blocks allow you a solid surface if you can’t quite make the pose (such as when the instructor tells you to bend from the waist and put your hands flat on the floor). A strap is a similar tool. For example, if your yoga instructor tells you to lie on your back, extend your leg, and hold on to your big toe, you may find you can’t execute this move. If you can’t yet do that, you can wrap a strap around your foot to keep your leg extended. However, you can use a stack of books, or a box you have at home, in place of blocks. You can use a scarf instead of a strap. It will work just fine.

A bolster, while less popular, is also a yoga tool that you may find useful. While you can certainly purchase a bolster made specifically for yoga, you can also use folded blankets, or a few throw pillows to accomplish the same goal.

Instruction

It’s important to listen to instruction and take care to execute the poses correctly. You can get yoga instruction at a club or from a video in the privacy of your own home. Hello, youtube! Either way, take the time to listen to your body. A gentle stretch is fine. But don’t over extend yourself. Love yourself enough to acknowledge that you are not going to do yoga perfectly, ever, and you’re not going to be able to execute all the yoga poses well in the beginning. “It’s okay to be you. It’s okay to be kind to yourself,” Risa Kawamoto, clarity and success coach, reminds us.

Yoga practice

Time for practice

The key to a good yoga practice is, well, practice. This means consistently doing yoga several times each week. Find a time that works best for you. There are specific practice poses for morning and evening. Perhaps you will find that right after work is best for you. There’s no right time to do yoga. If on Tuesdays and Fridays, mornings work best, but on Sunday you prefer evening practice, that’s just fine. Whatever time works for you is a time that works.

Creating a centered practice

There are videos available that offer a specific yoga practice for stress, for mindfulness, relaxation, and back pain. If you have a specific concern, a Google search will assist you in locating a yoga practice to address it. There are even videos and poses that are designed to nourish you during your menstrual cycle. Using yoga to address a specific need is a wonderful way to practice self care. Of course, there will be other times when you have no particular agenda beyond 15 minutes of yoga in the morning.

A word about corpse pose

Yoga practices traditionally end in corpse pose. Corpse pose is basically you lying on your back, eyes closed, feet splayed, breathing deeply. Some yoga instructors will take you on a guided journey of exploration, others will offer a word or thought to focus on, and others will say nothing at all. Regardless, I strongly encourage you to resist the temptation to pop up and go about your day, skipping this final pose.

The few minutes of time you spend laying in corpse pose are worth their weight in gold. Resist the temptation, while lying in corpse pose, to mentally go about your day as well. This is no different than physically getting up and skipping corpse. Instead, lie there with yourself. Congratulate yourself on a job well done. Become one with your breath. Experience peace. Many people find over time that the corpse pose is their favorite part of their yoga practice.

Lastly, Have Fun!!​

Listen to the full interview with Risa Kawamoto

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