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There are a lot of misconceptions when it comes to self-love. One of those is mistaking self-love for egoism. A lot of people assume that loving ourselves must mean being cocky or selfish, but that’s not true! To love oneself is to be comfortable in who you are. It means no longer doubting your potential. Self-love is standing in your power so that you can create the life you seek.
Have you ever set a goal and fulfilled it? Have you ever worked toward a vision that came to fruition? We are “powerful beyond measure” as spiritual teacher Marianne Williamson says. We are the architects of our dreams! So why do we doubt ourselves? It is easy to forget all we’ve accomplished and our limitless potential when we get bounced around like pinballs by the external circumstances of life. If we can remember just how powerful we are, and if we can stand confidently in that power, we can create any life we imagine.
For this to happen, we must identify our limiting beliefs. We hear this word a lot today in personal development and spiritual circles. “Limiting beliefs” are critical thoughts, negative self-talk, and old belief systems we have about ourselves or the world. They arise when we doubt our potential. Man, can they ever feel like reality, but I promise you, they are not! They are just fears.
If you can label and recognize limiting beliefs as fears rather than reality, you’ll be better prepared to combat them. You’ll start to understand that the question is not, “Can I have the things I desire?” but really, “Why couldn’t I?” Because manifestation not only takes clarity in knowing exactly what you want to bring in, it requires the that you deserve it. Because you do! Take the reins of your life and stand confidently in your power. That my dear, is self-love.
This 5-pose sequence will help you manifest the life you want, teaching you to stand in your power:
Utkatasana (Chair Pose)
Did you know that one of the English translations of “utkata” is “fierce”? This pose definitely lives up to the hype! Chair teaches a number of important real-time lessons about your power. To begin, the act of sitting down and back requires a trust in the strength and power of your legs to hold you. Often people find it easier to deeply bend their knees, but the action of sitting back is most imperative and requires faith that you can support yourself. In this pose, the upper body draws back upon itself as the back ribs lengthen the floor. Sitting into yourself in this way can represent having your own back. Lastly, reaching your arms overhead cultivates a mighty energy. It embodies your commitment to reaching in the direction of your dreams.
Vrksasana (Tree Pose)
One of the key components to standing powerfully is having strong roots. Your roots include everything that contributes to your basic survival, such as family, prime relationships, and career. Like real trees in nature, having strong roots is key to nourishing the trunk (in this case, the standing leg), so that we may stand taller. Think about how much better we are able to face challenges when we know we are loved! Balancing on one leg is also a great way to teach internal balance—even when external circumstances are causing imbalance. For example, you could be falling all over the place while practicing tree but still maintain your internal equanimity. This is an important lesson that power comes from your inner responses—not outside circumstances.
Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward-Facing Dog Pose)
Downward-Facing Dog Pose is one of the most grounded and powerful shapes in our practice. It’s a baseline shape for many of us. It acts as a safe refuge to come back to when things get overwhelming—a moment to catch your breath and recommit to your power. It is also the preparation for many other shapes, such as those in the knee-to-nose series (which require great strength) or the feel-good hip openers. When I first started practicing, I thought Down Dog was where we hung out waiting for the next challenge, but as I learned how much stability is required to do this shape properly, I realized that it is the ultimate power pose: The arms in are strong like legs, and in order to maintain length in the spine and to sustain the pose safely, we must stand into our legs as if we were in Tadasana.
Adho Mukha Vrksasana (Handstand)
When we are in a self-doubt spiral and battling limiting beliefs, it is essential to get a different perspective. Going upside down is a sure-fire way to achieve this. Because limiting beliefs originate from fears, practicing an inversion such as Handstand is a great way to face fear head on. A lot of our negative self-talk is around doubt—doubting we can do something, doubting we are worth something, doubting our own power. Practicing confronting poses in a safe environment is the perfect training ground to repattern these old belief systems. For example, doing Handstand at the wall is a prime place to catch an old thought creeping up, such as, I’ll never be able to do this .Instead, during the preparation, when you notice self-doubt arising, change the script. Start reciting to yourself, I CAN do this; I WILL do this! Keep repeating it like a mantra. Try to get up three times. If you are unable to get up, come back again tomorrow. Keep in mind that there is also great power in knowing when to give yourself a break!
Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana II (Big Toe Grip Pose II)
In 2014, Harvard researcher Ann Cuddy gave a TEDTalk entitled “Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are.” The talk went viral. She explained that how we position our body can transform how we both feel and think about ourselves. While there has been some controversy over the exact science behind the phenomenon, Cuddy continues to prove in her research that “adopting expansive postures causes people to feel more powerful.” This research helps to support what yogis have known for eons. Think of all the expansive shapes we create! How powerful do you feel taking up space? With this in mind, Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana II is the ultimate power pose. Standing on one leg shows us your physical strength, the art balancing teaches us mental vigor, and the lifted leg wide out to the side is a representation of your right to take up space!