A 15-Minute Yoga Flow To Cultivate Self-Love & Open Your Heart
With Valentine's Day upon us, you might be thinking about finding new love or reveling in the love you have. It can be fun to fantasize about roses and romance but not at the expense of your most important relationship: the one you have with yourself.
Loving and respecting yourself is not only essential to your overall well-being, but it's a crucial component to strong romantic relationships, too. So whether you're single and looking or in a long-term relationship, it's important to take time to cultivate love for yourself. The following tips are a few of my favorite ways to give myself some love, plus a yoga flow to help you release negativity and embrace who you are.
- Take yourself out on a date. Make reservations at your favorite restaurant, buy tickets to a show, order dessert. Get done up and enjoy all of the things you love.
- Take a break from social media. It can be a great way to connect with friends, family, even strangers—but it can also result in comparisons. We've got our own highlight reels to live out.
- Develop a self-love mantra. Write down three things you love about yourself, and use them to create a mantra. For example, "I love myself because I am funny, smart, and strong." Make it your own!
- Honor your feelings. Take some time to tune in. Find yourself a comfortable, safe space, and sit up tall. Take long, deep breaths. What are you feeling? Allow yourself to honor what comes up. Remember, it's OK to only go as deep as you can go today.
- Pamper yourself. Treat yourself to a spa day or steep in an essential-oil-infused bath. Set the mood with candles and your favorite tunes, turn off your phone, and soak in the deep, well-deserved relaxation.
And to help invite more self-love into your physical body, this yoga flow can help open your heart and hips, unblocking energy centers that can harbor emotional tension. As you go through the flow, incorporate extra self-love with loving words and affirmations like, "I love myself because __" or "I am loved and supported." (You may want two blocks!)
Half Happy Baby
Happy baby is a deep hip opener that can help you release stagnant energy and emotional tension in your lower chakras.
Start lying on your back. Grab the bottom of one foot and pull it into your chest. Slowly open your hip and pull your knee to the floor.
Cow Face Pose
This pose will provide a deep stretch for your outer hips, helping you approach your self-love practice without emotional baggage.
Sit on your mat with your spine straight. Cross one knee over the other. To deepen the pose, make your shins parallel to the front of your mat. Breathe into the pose and hold for 60 seconds. Perform on both sides.
Goddess on Blocks
This pose is a restorative heart opener that can help nurture compassion toward yourself.
Sit with your legs in butterfly pose. Place one block underneath your scapulae and one supporting your head. Lie back and breathe into this luscious, restorative pose. You could stay here up to 10 minutes if you want, but even a minute will suffice.
You can think of this gentle twist as a hug. As you twist, envision giving yourself a big squeeze, thinking affirming and loving thoughts toward yourself.
Lie on the floor with your back flat. Pull one knee into your chest. Gently pull it across your body, allowing your knee to drop to the floor on the opposite side. Extend your opposite arm and look in that direction. On every inhale, lengthen your spine. On every exhale, twist to deepen the pose. Continue this breath cycle for at least 10 deep breaths.
This pose is a deep stretch for your hamstrings, which can help release pent-up energy in your lower body.
Start in a seated position. Grab your right foot with your left hand. Pull your right knee toward your right shoulder. Straighten your spine and leg and breathe. Hold for at least 30 seconds and switch sides.
This pose opens both your heart and hips while also strengthening your foundation.
Lie flat on your back on your mat. Place your arms by your side, palms facedown, and fingertips nearly grabbing the backs of your heels. Exhale and send your hips toward the ceiling. Hold for 60 seconds.
A deep heart-opening pose, bow may help you clear through heart chakra blockages.
Start lying on your stomach. Bend your knees and reach back to grab the outside of your ankles. Inhale. On the exhale, kick your feet into your hands, allowing the motion to lift your chest and bring your body into a bow shape.
Use this moment after bow pose to really experience how your heart chakra feels when it's open. Envision energy from your heart extending to every bit of your mind, body, and soul as you move into upward-facing dog.
Start lying flat on the floor with your hands by your chest. Push up until your elbows are almost straight. Press into the tops of your feet, lifting your hips and legs off the ground. Take a deep inhale and extend your heart to the sky.
This pose always reminds me that opening up my heart can be light and fun!
Start in downward-facing dog and lift your right leg to come into three-legged dog. Dropping the right foot behind your left leg, flip your body to face the ceiling, and extend your right arm. Release and switch sides.
Hanuman is a deep stretch for the inner legs that can release years of tension, inviting in fresh, loving energy.
Start kneeling with one leg extended. Flex your front foot, and keep your hips square. Using two blocks, one on either side, gently lower as low as you can go. Switch legs.
One last heart opener paired with loving affirmations will solidify the intentions for self-love in this practice.
Starting on your knees, place your hands on your hips. Press hips forward and drop your head back, extending your heart to the sky. If your body allows, your hands will reach your heels in the full expression.
I would recommend practicing this flow at least once per week to help cultivate more self-love and self-respect.
So many of us struggle with putting ourselves first. Taking time out of your busy schedule for self-care and self-love might seem selfish, but really, it benefits the people in your life just as much as it does you. In loving and taking care of ourselves, we begin to see huge transformations in our relationships, too.
Claire Grieve is a highly sought after international yoga specialist, stretch therapist, plant-based health coach, and wellness writer. Claire underwent extensive yoga training with some of the world’s top yogis, studied nutrition through the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, and received her bachelor's in education from the University of Melbourne. Grieve has dedicated almost a decade to teaching and is on a serious mission to make yoga enjoyable and accessible to everyone. Her deep and pure passion for helping people transform through yoga and wellness has led her to work with with a vast array of celebrities, professional athletes, fitness leaders and people of all genders, professions, shapes and sizes.
For more yoga flows and mindfulness tips, check out Claire’s new ebook ENERGIZE!