OHMusings: Self-care as Self-less Love

While giving love, cards and gifts, let’s consider including ourselves in the celebration—and not just for Valentine’s Day, but everyday.

by Beth Reese, PhD, E-RYT, RCYT, YACEP

Self-care is never a selfish act—it is simply good stewardship of the only gift I have, the gift I was put on earth to offer to others.” – Parker Palmer

“You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.” – Buddha

Grace, my 11 year old daughter, came home yesterday from what occurred to her as a hard day at school. While desperately wanting to know what was going on, I also wanted to create space for her to want to talk. 

Sometimes our tweens and teens aren’t ready to talk—or be in our selfies. 😉

When space and time didn’t work (lol), or at least not on my timeline because I was concerned, I asked her if she would be willing to hear some questions. This has become an amazing tool in communicating with her and, indeed, others: asking permission to engage, be curious, offer feedback and ideas.

Over the next several hours we went through moments of talking, sharing, crying, quiet, laughing, sharing. With each cycle I asked permission. A few times I got that tween squint that distinctly communicates a sarcastic “are you kidding” followed by agreement. We covered many topics, including responsible communication and managing frustration with friends. An area that surfaced several times was in the realm of choosing the approval of others over sustained and empowering self-love.

Now I get this. I mean, I really get this.

Learning that taking care of myself is not only healthy, but also a way of taking care of others has been one of the greatest gifts I have created for me and my family. It’s the “getting” of what Parker Palmer and Buddha describe in the quotes above: we each deserve to love oneself and, in fact, it is a way to serve others. Taking care of oneself is related to practicing Niyamas, one of the 8 Limbs of yoga.

Grace and I talked about self-regulation and really studying the self to better manage communication and frustration. One of the Niyamas, Svadhyaya, is literally the study of oneself. For Grace, practicing this form of yoga off the mat includes noticing when she feels like “a can of sparkling water that you’ve just opened and is fizzing with energy.” When she becomes aware of this “fizzing” feeling inside, she said creates alone time until “the bubbles are all at peace.”

One of the ways we teach the self-love of self-regulation of energy in Yogiños: Yoga for Youth®is through our songs which include positive affirmations. A favorite among our teachers and participants is the bilingual song, “Toco el Sol”. We use this one for standing and seated sun salutations; the seated version is a great option for on the yoga mat, and especially off the mat while traveling and in school. 

Many of the parents and teachers we work with integrate “Toco el Sol” into the day as an opportunity to nurture positive thinking as well as balance physical energy. In addition to using the song for movement, some teachers use the lyric, “I am OHMazing®”, as a call-and-response method to request student attention. In this way, there is simultaneous beneficial communication as well as verbalization supporting self-love and respect.

Here are two videos for you to explore your OHMazing-ness, and share with your family, friends and students. Because for this Valentine’s Day, don’t you deserve your love and affection?

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