I was blown away when I read how Sophie Gregoire Trudeau began the foreword to my book, Evolving Your Yoga, by asking, “Do you love yourself?" (download the full text of her foreword here).
Little did she know that this exact question had been at the heart of my yoga journey from the start.
Although we’d been friends since she graduated (with high honors) from a teacher training I led in 2013, I’d never fully shared with her my own struggles with unworthiness, insecurity, and lack of self-confidence.
Like many women I know, I grew up feeling critical of my body shape and size. Strong and broad-shouldered, “big-boned” as adults liked to say, I felt self-conscious and uncomfortable in my body.
I don’t think Sophie knew that this was what led me to embrace yoga not only as a physical discipline, but as a path toward learning to step into my fundamental goodness and worthiness, and to begin truly caring for myself.
Yoga taught me how to respect and honour myself, and act accordingly.
I know there’s a trend these days to prioritize our “self-care,” which so often refers to pampering, indulging, splurging, and putting ourselves first.
But here’s what I also know: We can do all the things that look like self-care and still not love, or even like, ourselves.
What we do in the name of “self-care” must be met with how we think and feel about ourselves in order for it to lead us toward true wholeness and healing.
Our practices—both active and reflective —give us a way to align our thoughts and feelings with our actions. Yoga provides a framework for noticing, and then shifting, our inner dialogue from self-critical to self-compassionate.
Ultimately, yoga leads us to that place of intrinsic love which gives rise to a genuine desire to treat ourselves well, to take care of our bodies, and to invest in our well-being.
For me, this means making asana practice an offering of love to myself, consciously appreciating the strength and health of my body, and letting go of the need to look a certain way. It means accepting myself fully and embracing even the self-sabotaging voices of insecurity and unworthiness.
Ultimately, I think that’s what loving oneself from a place of authenticity and truth is really all about, allowing all the seemingly imperfect parts to be there while getting to know and act from the bigger awareness of ourselves as unique and perfect just as we are.
This Valentine’s Day, may you celebrate yourself, be kind to yourself, and love yourself – for real.
Our free, online bonus content is designed to complement and enrich your experience of Evolving Your Yoga. Resources like video pose tutorials, downloadable journaling prompts, breathwork, guided visualizations, and more will support your exploration of each of the Ten Principles for Enlightened Practice.