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Natural Awakenings South Jersey

Celebrating Love

by Martha Kein

February is often seen as the month of love, with Valentine’s Day reminding us to celebrate the connections we have with others. While expressing love for those around us, it’s essential not to overlook one of the most important relationships we have—the one with ourselves. This month, let’s focus on cultivating self-love and compassion, nurturing our inner selves through transformative practices.

To embark on this journey of self-love and compassion, let’s begin by practicing self-care. It’s the foundation on which we build a loving relationship with ourselves. It involves prioritizing our physical, mental and emotional well-being. Here are some self-care practices to incorporate into our daily routine:

Mindful Breathing: Take a few moments each day to connect with our breath. Close the eyes, place a hand on the heart or belly, and take slow, deep breaths. As we inhale, feel our belly fill and expand. As we exhale, feel our belly move back towards our spine. Notice the sensation of the breath entering and leaving the body, allowing it to anchor us in the present moment.

Gratitude Practice: Cultivate gratitude by focusing on the things we appreciate about ourselves. Each day, write down three things we love and admire about ourselves. These can be qualities, accomplishments or acts of self-kindness. Embracing self-gratitude helps shift our perspective towards self-love.

Nourishing Movement: Engage in gentle, nourishing movement that supports our body and spirit. Practice yoga postures that invite self-compassion, such as heart-opening poses like Camel Pose (Ustrasana) or gentle forward folds like Child’s Pose (Balasana). Listen to our body and honor its needs with each movement.

Soulful Reflection: Set aside time for self-reflection and journaling. Ask thought-provoking questions like, “What does self-love mean to me?” or “How can I show myself more compassion?” Writing down our thoughts and feelings can provide insights and promote inner healing.

In addition to self-care practices, incorporating self-compassion into our daily lives is vital. Self-compassion involves treating ourselves with kindness, understanding and acceptance, especially during challenging times. Here are some ways to cultivate self-compassion:

Practice Self-Forgiveness: Release any judgments or self-criticism that we may be holding onto. Understand that mistakes are a part of the human experience and an opportunity for growth. Treat yourself with the same kindness and forgiveness you would offer to a dear friend.

Embrace Imperfections: Celebrate our unique qualities and imperfections. Remember that they make us who we are—an authentic and beautiful individual. Let go of the need for perfection and embrace the beauty of our perfectly imperfect selves.

Be Present with Emotions: Allow ourselves to fully experience and acknowledge our emotions without judgment. Create space for them to arise, be felt and eventually be released. Offer ourselves the compassion and support that’d be offered to someone going through a difficult time.

To deepen our self-love and compassion practice, consider incorporating a gentle yoga sequence into our daily routine. Begin with grounding poses like Mountain Pose (Tadasana) or Tree Pose (Vrksasana) to connect with our inner strength and stability. Flow through heart-opening postures like Bridge Pose (Setu Bandhasana) or Cow Pose (Bitilasana) to invite love and compassion into our heart space. End the practice with a soothing meditation, focusing on self-love affirmations or sending loving-kindness to ourselves.

Cultivating self-love and compassion is an ongoing journey, one that requires patience, dedication and self-acceptance. As we celebrate love this month, let’s remember to shower ourselves with the same love and kindness we extend to others. Embrace our worthiness, honor our journey and allow self-love to be a guiding light in all that we do. Happy February, filled with boundless love and compassion for ourselves and others.

Martha Kein is the school director of The American Yoga Academy, a world-renowned, online yoga teacher training school that’s been training and certifying yoga instructors for 30 years, and where all are welcome. For more information, call 973-731-9960 or visit