Self-love is central to yoga and meditation, but it’s not always easy to maintain, day in and day out — especially when things get tough! While establishing a regular practice is the first step we can all take to become more loving and compassionate towards ourselves, there are a few other little rituals we can work in our practice both on and off the mat to help give ourselves a little boost.
In fact, maybe you already do some of these already. Try picking one that you can turn toward when you’re not feeling so good about yourself.
Protect your space
Choose a space in your home — ideally where you like to spend time — that you can use to practice self-love. This could be the place where you roll your yoga mat out for your practice, your favorite chair where you read, your bed, or even a private space outside if you can find one. Declare this a clutter-free and negativity-free zone by keeping it clean, decorating it with things that inspire you, and imagining it being filled with cleansing and loving white light when you spend time there.
Did you know that there are certain essential oils that actually stimulate feelings of love and joy? Rose essential oil is considered to have the highest frequency of all oils, promoting a feeling of unconditional love. Ylang ylang essential oil can be used to help restore confidence while spruce essential oil helps with the release of emotional blocks to bring back a sense of balance. You may even want to choose a couple favorites that you can diffuse in your protected space.
Listen to music
Just like aromatherapy heals through scent, music does the same through sound. When practicing yoga, meditating, reading, or even just relaxing, try listening to classical or ambient music without any lyrics at a moderate volume. This will naturally help calm your mind and lift your spirit. Music that’s already familiar to you is also known to promote feelings of love and joy, so go ahead and press play on any of your favorite songs or albums in your music library.
Use mantras & affirmations
The words you say to yourself — even just in your head — are far more powerful than you might think. Having a few go-to mantras and affirmations like “I am strong,” or “the love of the Universe surrounds me,” can be enough to get your positive thoughts flowing again. Don’t just do it once — keep repeating it as often as it takes to start feeling a difference. Tell yourself what you want to feel as if you’re feeling it already, and the Universe will make it happen.
Step into nature
Making a habit out of regularly going for a walk in a nearby park or on a trail is hugely beneficial for both your physical and mental health. A Stanford study found that people who walked in a natural area for 90 minutes experienced decreased activity in a part of the brain associated with depression when compared to people who walked for 90 minutes in an urban area. Getting out in any green space will help you naturally expand your awareness and feel the connection you have with Mother Nature.
Self-love is an ongoing practice, and dealing with negative thoughts and emotions is just part of the journey. When those thoughts and emotions do pop up and make it harder to feel loving toward yourself, make sure you become mindful of them. You can neutralize those negative thoughts by using explorative self-talk that seeks to understand whether they’re true by questioning them. If you question yourself enough, you’ll likely realize that the negative thought you’re thinking or emotion you’re feeling isn’t actually true in nature — it only feels true in your head. This opens you up to begin making the shift toward more positive and loving self-talk.