5 Ways Yoga Helps You Find Self-Acceptance
When I began practicing yoga, my mind was in control of my body. I was incredibly judgmental of myself. I expected mental and physical perfection from myself at all times. The voice inside my head was constantly critical and terribly pessimistic. I have learned a lot about myself through my practice. The most important lesson is that I needed to love and accept myself for who I am. Not who I wanted or expected myself to be.
Yoga has helped me get to know and love myself—my true self—and it can do the same for you. Getting to know your true self, not the person you want to be or think you should be, is an important factor in finding self-acceptance. Once you know yourself, you can begin to love yourself. Yoga creates a space for you to slow down and really focus on you. When you slow down and focus on your breath and feeling your body, it really becomes difficult to ignore all the stored up negative emotions that you are holding onto.
Yoga allows you to become more aware of your critical thoughts. Once you are aware of these thoughts, you can learn to observe them rather than absorb them. By observing and letting go of negative self-talk, you will begin to see that the voice in your head isn’t logical and that the thoughts you have are often not based in reality.
Here are five ways that a regular yoga practice can help you find self-acceptance and love:
1. It gets you moving.
Most of us spend a large part of our lives being sedentary. Our bodies were designed to be used for more than sitting in front of a computer or TV. Every thought we have and emotion we feel is held somewhere in our body. When we don’t take time out of our busy lives to move, I mean really move, those thoughts and emotions stay in our bodies. Yoga gets us to move without focusing on body image and weight loss. Instead, the focus is on you. Yoga postures help to cleanse and balance our bodies and minds.
2. It forces you to prove that you CAN.
Yoga challenges you both mentally and physically. It is easy to look at your well-practiced instructor in a crazy bendy posture and say, “I can’t do that.” But if you are like me, you not only enjoy being challenged; you need it. Challenging yourself physically through a regular yoga practice can help you see that you are capable of much more than you thought. This awareness follows you off the mat. When challenges come up outside of yoga, you will have the confidence to take risks rather than saying “I can’t.”
3. It allows you to let go of the need to be perfect.
Many of us have a need to be perfect. A regular yoga practice will help you realize that you’re already perfect just the way you are. We all have parts of us that could be improved. That is what’s so beautiful about being human. We are all on the same journey. We are here to learn, grow and love ourselves and everyone around us. Yoga helps us to do this by stilling and calming the mind. This awareness and true presence with yourself allows you to let go. Let go of expectations and false images. Let go of who you think you are or should be. By letting go of these things, you can begin to see how beautiful and perfect you already are.
4. Relieve stress.
Stress negatively impacts our body and mind and soul. When you are stressed, the negative voice in your head becomes louder and more persistent. It is extremely difficult to bring yourself out of the cycle of negative thinking if your mind and body do not have time to rest and let go. Humans need time away from the stresses of everyday life. Yoga makes you step away from everything—it’s an opportunity to relax and focus on you. Being present helps you decipher whether the stress you are feeling is authentic or a reaction based in fear.
5. It helps you to see that YOU are worthy.
A regular yoga practice opens up your mind and heart. Not only through the physical practice of postures, but also through the light and peace that you are able to feel as a result of your body becoming more open and flexible. The mind follows the body’s cues. When your heart and mind begin to open you can’t help but see that what you are doing is good for you. This is when you begin to realize that no matter how busy your life is, you are worthy of your own time. You are worth dedicating 5, 30, or 60 minutes each day focusing on just you and your practice – physical or meditative. You are worth loving yourself enough to carve out your time for you. You are worthy of loving yourself.
All of this doesn’t happen at once. You can’t take one yoga class and suddenly find love and acceptance. I have been practicing for two years and I am not there yet. It takes time, patience, and persistence. Today I am a girl who is still too hard on herself and expects more of herself than is humanly possible. But today I am also a girl who is taking time to notice those things and learn from them. A girl who knows that she has a beautiful heart and is worthy of her own love. Most importantly, she knows that one day she will get there. And so will you.
Peace and light