Welcome to the Soul-filled Cafe!
Today’s Guest Expert is Betty Larrea,
Founder of Be Yoga Be Love
I have been on the path of my heart for over 15 years. For most of my life, I had been obsessed with love and finding a romantic partner. I spent so many years looking for love and validation outside of myself, until I realized that I had to find love in myself first. It has taken years of practice and reflection to remain on this path of self love. Yoga has been an integral part of that journey for me.
Self-love is a daily commitment to treat yourself with respect and compassion. Love begins with self acceptance, which is why yoga is such a powerful practice for nurturing self-love and opening your heart. Practicing yoga allows you to accept yourself, even the parts you don’t like.
The first time I walked into a yoga class, I had the experience of being out of my body while simultaneously feeling fully IN MY BODY. I had struggled with body issues and perfectionism my whole life and here I was letting go of the judgment and settling into myself. I continued to go to yoga class over the years because it was the one place where I could to just “be”, without judgment or criticism. Some days I could balance in Tree Pose and other days, I felt all wobbly and out of whack, just like in my life. But no matter what pose I was able to do or not do, I always left my yoga class feeling good about myself.
Until last summer when I completed my 200 hour yoga teacher training, I did not have a regular yoga practice. Despite the fact that I was teaching 10 children’s yoga classes per week and could see the sense of peace in my students, I had not made a commitment to make yoga a discipline in my life. Throughout my rigorous training, I learned that yoga was much more than a physical practice, it had the potential to open my heart.
Each time I get on my mat, I am opening my heart to myself. I become more aware of myself ~ physically, emotionally, energetically. I am fully aware of my body, its strengths and its limitations. I can see where I am holding tension in my body, where I can let go more, ease up more, connect more and love myself more.
Here are five simple ways to create your own heart centered yoga personal practice, whether you practice at home or in a studio.
1) Set an intention for each class.
Choose something that you are committed to have happen in your life. Ground yourself in that intention and devote your practice to creating space, being OPEN to receiving.
2) Be present.
Yoga is an opportunity to be present, to allow anything to come up and to accept where you are in the moment.
3) Give yourself permission to be imperfect.
Be gentle with yourself. Do not push yourself to do that pose you always struggle with, especially when you are feeling out of sync.
4) Listen to your body.
If it feels better to rest in Child’s Pose rather than going for that 6th Vinyasa, take the time to give yourself what you need. Only you can know what truly serves you and tuning into yourself is part of loving yourself.
5) Surrender in Savasana.
I mean really surrender. At the end of yoga class, when you find yourself thinking about of what you have to do next, let it go. Whatever it is, it can wait. This is YOUR time. So just allow yourself to melt into the mat and find that place of pure surrender.
6) Remember that yoga is more about the journey than the poses.
The journey is like a coming home to yourself, coming home to your heart.
I leave you with a brief visualization meditation that you can use before your yoga practice, to ground yourself in self love.
Close your eyes and take a deep breath. As you exhale, imagine you are letting go of everything that is holding your attention from your day, watch your thoughts come and go like clouds in the sky. Notice what you are feeling, thinking and let it all go. With each breath, bring your attention closer and closer into yourself, to being here, right now. This is your time, take this time to connect with that deeper part inside you, the part that knows she is taken care of and is worthy of love. Trust that everything is as it should be, you are perfect exactly as you are, where you are. Breathe into the wholeness of who you are, feel the power of honoring yourself enough to give yourself what you need in this moment. Acknowledge yourself for the strength and courage it takes to nurture yourself in this way. See yourself as a beautiful light and let it radiate forth from your core, let it open your heart to receive the love and goodness you deserve.
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Betty Larrea is a writer, yoga instructor, artist and educator who is devoted to inspiring others to love, express and BE all that they are. Betty loves playing with words and has been a writer for over 20 years. She is currently working on several book projects, including a series of yoga and spirituality books for children. Betty has performed her poetry at the Nuyorican Poet’s Café, sold her original artwork and jewelry at The Big Art Show in NJ and Philadelphia and showcased her self-published poetry at the 215 Independent Book Festival.
Betty received her 200 hour yoga certification from Three Sisters Yoga in NYC and her children’s yoga teacher certification from Karma Kids Yoga. With over 12 years of experience teaching yoga to children and families, Betty founded Be Yoga Be Love, which delivers yoga and arts enrichment programs and events at schools and fitness centers in NJ. She also provides private in-home yoga instruction, tutoring, writing coaching and is a course facilitator trained by the author of the best-selling book Calling in the One to lead workshops for women to attract love into their lives. www.beyogabelove.wordpress.com