Paths to Self Love

Well there aren’t too many paths, walkways, streets, open right now as we are in the midst of  La Paix – The Storm of the Century.  Some paths are well marked while others not so much.  And other paths to our inner self have become obscured, covered.  Take an approach to self love this Valentine’s and reconnect with yourself.  A tool like the Wellness Wheel may help pinpoint which path you may need to go down next.

*For more articles on wellness from Philadelphia Integrative Medicine, see their website . There is also an upcoming workshop on self love at Moyo Yoga on March 8th.

What Does Self-Love Look Like?

Guest blog by Erin Murphy, Administrative Medical Assistant, Philadelphia Integrative Medicine
When it comes to wellness, there is a tool called the “Wellness Wheel” to help you assess your level of satisfaction in the different domains of your life.  Some wellness wheels are simple and others are more complex, but they typically include the following:  physical, emotional, social, mental, spiritual, environmental, and occupational wellness.   Each of these different domains offers a profound opportunity for you to deepen your self-love.
How satisfied are you physically?  Are you satisfied with the amount of movement you experience in a day?  Do you move with ease?  Are you satisfied and nourished by the foods you are eating?  Do you breathe deeply and comfortably?  How is your sleep?  Improving the quality of your physical wellness can be a profound act of self-love for your physical body.  
How satisfied are you mentally?  ”Mental nutrition is every bit as important as oral nutrition” – from  the Wellness Workbook.  Do your patterns of thought serve you and make you feel good about yourself?  Do you find yourself living in the present in your mind or are you reliving past events or anxiously anticipating future events?  Developing a mindfulness practice to help you become aware of your own thoughts can turn your mind into a powerful tool of self-love! 
How satisfied are you emotionally?  Do you express or repress your emotions?  Do you allow yourself to feel and express joy?  Do you allow yourself to express anger and grief in a way that does not hurt yourself or others?  When we learn to befriend our emotions instead of being in opposition with them, we open ourselves to give and receive more love.
I encourage you to examine the other areas of the wellness wheel to see how you can transform them into tools of self love!  One idea would be to print out a wellness wheel and rate your satisfaction in each area.  Pick the area that you rated the lowest and brainstorm some ways that you can raise your satisfaction in that area of your life.  Also, our upcoming workshop – Walk the Path, Love Yourself Now – will be present another good opportunity for those interested in developing a more loving relationship with themselves (click here for details and registration info).  
Here are some examples of wellness wheels below (from the Wellness Workbook):
The Breath

Peace Breath
Steady flow of breath in and out at an even rate on the inhalation and exhalation while silently saying these affirmations (can create your own affirmations depending upon what you need).

Breath in Peace, Breathe out quiet
Breathe in Quiet, Breathe out stillness
Breathe in Stillness, Breathe out Balance
Breathe in Balance, Breathe out Light
Breathe in Light, Breathe out Love
Breathe in Love, Breathe out Peace

The Poses

Supported Staff Pose (Dandasana)

Benefits: improves posture, alignment, centering, grounding pose, very stabilizing.
Props: Wall, 2 blankets, neck roll, strap. Can add additional blankets for more support under knees or elsewhere.

Place a folded blanket next to wall to sit on. Sit with back against the wall, legs out straight in front of you (use blankets to support knees if need be).  May add a strap around thighs if the legs tend to roll out (keeps tadasana alignment) Add neck roll(s) to neck or back of head for comfort.  Begin with arms crossed over chest by heart center, breathing into the heart chakra.  After a few minutes, let the arms rest by your side or on your legs, continue to take full inhalations and exhalations.

Heart Opening Supported Pose (Minimal Prop)

Benefits: open chest, relax lower back and hips, create better flow of breath, open shoulders
Props: 2-3 blankets

Place one blanket, larger rectangle shape down lengthwise on mat, then another blanket on top but fold over top end to create a pillow for the head and neck. As you recline over the blankets, bring the hips to the floor. Knees bend touching, feet wide on mat.  Stay for at least 5 minutes.

Childs-Pose – Straddle Variation (with chair)

Benefits: calming, gently stretches lower back, nice transition from the days activities.  A good pose to do if you need a few minutes break from your daily work, easy to do and easily accessible.  Good for headaches.  Breathing is easier since muscles of the respiratory system are relaxed.

Props: chair, 2-4 blankets

Place blanket single-fold on chair draping down. Legs can stretch through chair or straddle or cross-legged.  Arms placed folded on chair in front of you. Rest forehead on arms. Tilt chin slightly toward your chest.  Close eyes. For comfort or lower back issues, sit on blanket, add rolled up blankets under knees if legs in straddle, or blocks/blankets under knees if cross legged. May add a blanket at sacrum for grounding.