Today while teaching a yoga class I said that loving oneself is advanced yoga practice. The class was standing on one leg while hugging the opposite knee up high and I said, "And now kiss your knee". No, it's not officially a "real" yoga pose, but just for fun, give it a try. Yes, I mean you, the one reading this post. Get out of your chair, stand on one foot, hug your other knee up high and then round your head, neck and upper back down to kiss that knee. It certainly is doable. But it can be challenging not only physically but emotionally as well because self love can bring up the bigger players: self hatred and judgement. Kiss that knee already!/This is silly, why would I kiss my knee./I don't deserve to be kissed!/This is not a "real" yoga pose./She's not a real yoga teacher./Ugh, I feel exposed./I need more love./I'm so needy./I'm too needy./I'm weak./This is dumb. And then distraction- What time is it?
I like to suggest blowing oneself a kiss every so often in my yoga classes to playfully encourage self love because I personally find that loving myself is advanced. It cultivates awareness and self acceptance of myself. A student said my comment that self love is advanced yoga practice wasn't fair, that loving oneself should be available to all students, all levels of experience. I agree completely, I wasn't intending on excluding anyone. But my analogy meant to suggest that we (at least the human beings I know the dearest, myself and my family) don't love ourselves automatically. What we do is we beat ourselves up repeatedly for any number of reasons, often repeating the well worn pattern indefinitely, usually without recognizing that we are doing it.
Anyway, next time you notice yourself saying mean things to yourself, or things that just are not even true, or are such old beliefs that you don't even know where they came from-- try saying the Hoʻoponopono (ho-o-pono-pono) prayer. It's the ancient Hawaiian practice of reconciliation and forgiveness: I'm sorry, please forgive me, thank you, I love you. And then kiss your knee, or your fingertips if they are closer!