One thing that frustrates me about the wellness industry is the proverbial potato toss of the phrase “self love”.  We all talk about how we need to love ourselves more (which is totally true), but no one really talks about HOW.  How do we practice loving ourselves.  Where does it begin?  

Self love starts in that noggin of yours.  The thoughts we think and the beliefs we have created.  What is a belief? It’s a thought that has been repeated over and over again.  The average person thinks about 60,000 thoughts per day.  90% of those thoughts, are the same.  That means if you are constantly thinking to yourself, “I’m not good enough”, or “I’m fat”, that garbage is on repeat.  We must become conscious of our thoughts so that we can pick up that record needle and play a new track.  Preferably one that is more, (drum roll)…. LOVING.  When those revolting thoughts arise, don’t berate yourself for having it. Notice it.  Tell yourself how adorable it is that you THINK that being mean to yourself will help you change, and then change the thought. 

Action.  This is different for everyone.  If you are a mega gym bunny and think that a power yoga class is a light work out, you probably need rest.  Take some time, allow your body to recoup and heal.  If you consider walking around the block after eating bon bon’s in front of the T.V. exercise, get your booty up and move your body in a way that feels good.  Yummy movement only, so that you won’t be totally over it in 5 minutes. The body was intended to move.  No it wasn’t intended to take 3 spin classes a day, but it certainly wasn’t meant to be in front of a computer for hours either. 

Eat and drink foods that nourish you.  No, this doesn’t mean go all sorts of drill sergeant on me and cut out everything but juice.  But once again, find out what works for your body and for the most part, eat and drink those things.  I have experimented with all sorts of constitutions, and although I am still in the process of finding my perfect balance, I am certainly on the path.  Like Hoda and Kathy Lee, I like wine, and that can throw anyone off sometimes.  I forgive myself.

FORGIVE YOURSELF. When we don’t forgive, we can never move forward.  I know I have beaten myself up for far too long for things that are in the past and gone.  Anger, resentment, and blame towards ourselves (and others for that matter) serve absolutely no one.  They fester in our mind and can turn into some twisted beliefs, and terrible disease.  You were doing the best you could, given your circumstances, at that time.  It’s over.  Forgive yourself and move it along.  

Touch yourself.  Yeah, you read that right.  And sure, you can touch yourself in the way I KNOW you’re thinking (you dirty devil).  Or, you can tenderly hold yourself.  In every yoga class I teach, at at least one point I have everyone draw their knees into their chest and give themselves a big compassionate squeeze.  Many of us are starving for connection and touch.  Connect to yourself. Touch yourself.  Caress your arms and massage your own neck.  And if you want to earn major brownie points, say something nice as you do it.  “My skin is so beautiful/soft/fabulous”. Whatever works for you! Just enjoy the process and practice as often as you are able.  

To be clear, we don’t love ourselves over night.  It’s a daily practice that takes a lifetime, just like yoga.  And it must be cultivated, nourished, and nourished some more.  So please,  begin your practice if you haven’t already.  There are millions of healthy loving things you can do for yourself, and I’d love to know what YOU do.  As a yoga instructor in New York City I have conglomerated a few tricks that have been helpful for myself and my students.  I’d love to know what YOU do, so please feel free to post on my Instagram @yogawalexa.