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How To Be Your Own Valentine

How To Be Your Own Valentine

Depending on your circumstances, Valentine’s Day can be a particularly brutal time.  At times like these, it’s important to take care of number one and be your own Valentine .

Yoga, with its proven mind and body health benefits, is the perfect way to do so.

Every week we offer free yoga classes in our Martin Place store in association with mental health advocates OneWave. The classes are designed to get you moving to lift your spirits and help manage tough times.

With Valentine’s Day fresh in our wake, this week we talk to two of our yoga teachers about why yoga is the ultimate form of self-love, and which poses are the best for lonely hearts.

Do you think it’s fair to consider yoga as self-care?

Kate Butchart: Absolutely. In our everyday lives we get so caught up in busy-ness and most of us spend our time focusing on the future or thinking about the past. Yoga is a way to check in with yourself, to pause and see where you're at in your body but more importantly in your mind. Many people think of yoga as exercise, and there are physical benefits, but more than that it is a way of caring for your whole self, especially the parts we can't see from the outside.

Jacqui Zhao: Yoga teaches us to look inward and cultivate self-love and self-care. The practice of yoga involves not only the asana (poses) but also pranayama (breath work) and meditation.  The starting point for all three of these is the breath.  And as we bring focus to the breath, it deepens and slows, allowing stress and anxiety to melt away, conjuring a deeper sense of peace.  Not only this, but when practicing the physical yoga poses, you have the opportunity to move your body in a way that you most need in the moment – whether it be a slow, relaxing restorative class when we’re feeling tired or a juicy dynamic vinyasa class to get the juices flowing when we’re feeling energetic, yoga allows a deep from of self-care by giving both the physical and emotional body what they need in the moment.

Has yoga ever helped you emotionally? 

Kate: All the time! There are days when I don't felt like my usual self and have that feeling of being lonely even when surrounded by people (you know when you want to hide at home with Messina and Netflix). Those are the times when I know I need to practice. Yoga reminds me to acknowledge my whole self, even the bits that feel uncomfortable and icky. Whenever I'm feeling down or isolated I do some yoga and it feels like coming home.  

Jacqui: When life has thrown particularly stressful times my way or work has ramped up in a way that has felt almost suffocating, sitting and breathing has been my saviour. Being forced to just slow down and bring all my attention to the breath has a way of calming and grounding me like nothing else.  Adding a bit of movement to that often helps me to feel more energised once again – it’s easy to hold tension in places like the neck, shoulders and hips so releasing those with some juicy stretches can make a world of difference to stress levels.

Are there any poses in particular that people can practice to pick them up when they’re feeling low? 

Jacqui: The heart opening yoga poses are all great for this.  We are often in the habit of hunching our shoulders in a self-protective way and keeping to ourselves, so exposing the front of our bodies and chest area can make us feel anxious and vulnerable.  But moving past this and opening the front of the body with poses like cobra, wheel, camel or dancer’s pose can crack the heart wide open, helping to cultivate a new energy, confidence and self-love.

Kate: Backbends are super energising, poses like bridge and camel open the chest and heart space, which stimulates the spine and improves blood circulation, this can help with reducing those feelings like sadness. Any kind of inversion is also great for a boost of good vibes, part of the reason for this is simply switching up our relationship with gravity. Being upside down takes us out of our habitual view of the world and sometimes a change in perspective can be helpful. Downward facing dog or a simple forward fold will achieve this - you don't need to be doing handstands! Anytime your head is below your heart the body activates the parasympathetic nervous system, calming the body and sending signals to rest and digest, rather than being in our sympathetic nervous system of fight and flight.

What is it about shavasana (“corpse pose” – lying flat on your back) that feels so awesome? 

Kate: It’s the integration of all of the soothing benefits from the class into the body and I think it feels so good because it is a moment of pure relaxation. Most of us live incredibly busy lives and in shavasana we have permission to let it all go. 

What has yoga given you that nothing else has?

Kate: It's given me an inner strength and a sense of stillness within myself. When I tap into that I feel so much more attuned to the world around me and it benefits every relationship in my life. Most importantly it's taught me to live from the inside out rather than from the outside in.

Couples who yoga together stay together - true or false?


Jacqui: True! Practicing yoga together can of course bring a physical closeness between two people.  And whilst it is not always practical for couples to roll out their mats together, yoga can be incorporated into all areas of life and the way we treat others.  Two people who live the teachings of yoga by treating each other with compassion and respect will build a strong and resilient relationship.

Why would you encourage people to try yoga?

Kate: I'd encourage people to give yoga a try because it really is for everyone. From the outside it might look like you need to be fit and flexible, but there are many styles and levels and ultimately it's about your own experience, not comparing yourself to anyone else. 


We offer a free yoga class in our Martin Place store every Monday at 6pm.  All levels are welcome – particularly beginners – and mats are provided. To give it a go, just register by clicking here.