Happy Kindness Week, Yogis!
There are pink and red hearts everywhere I look. Valentine Boxes in various stages of construction are scattered throughout the dining room. We even turned our Christmas Tree into a Valentine’s Day Tree. My kids are practicing random acts of kindness this week at school; they are encouraged to notice kindness in all its manifestations. I’m encouraging them to be kind to themselves, too. And you know, that’s not always easy for us, as adults. Metta Meditation can really help. One form of this practice, also known a Loving-kindness meditation, begins by offering love, compassion, or kindness, safety & health toward yourself, then toward ever-widening circles of people, such as family, friends, village, community, and so on, until you finally extend this benevolence toward the entire world.
Another way of practicing kindness toward ourselves is — you guessed it — on our yoga mat; and I don’t only mean that getting on your mat to practice is a gift to yourself and a way to perform self-care, though it is. I’m actually referring to the practice of acknowledging yourself as being enough, doing enough, and accomplishing enough. We all hold ourselves to unrealistic expectations at times, sometimes always; and often, we set higher expectations for ourselves than we would anyone else. So practicing seeing ourselves as enough can be a soothing balm to our own weary soul. There are times we need to treat ourselves as a sacred partner, offer ourselves gentleness, forgiveness, and understanding, as we would to a dear friend.
This week in yoga we will practice enough by not forcing the body into any pre-conceived “perfect” version of a pose. We will practice enough by not overdoing it or underdoing it. We will practice enough by encouraging the voice in our head to speak with softness and praise for simply being our truest self. Our focus will be on feeling the shape from the inside, rather than assessing the shape from the outside.
Be in Warrior Pose for the sake of feeling alive rather than having your front thigh parallel to the floor, or your arms perfectly extended. Be in Half Moon Pose near the wall or with a block for the adventure of it rather than the achievement of it. Try old and new poses alike from the perspective that you are already enough, no matter what the voice in your head has learned to tell you. You are already enough before you even step onto your mat. It is only that getting on your mat and moving with the breath clears all the dirt away. It’s the unearthing of jewels like this that keeps us coming back. That’s the beauty of a yoga practice: the shining, glimmering rediscovery that we are already enough, just as we are.