Hello there beautiful soul, how are you? It hasn’t been easy, has it? You’re doing such a great job. Keep it up!

Wouldn’t it be so awesome if someone said this to you every day? It feels good to be acknowledged for the hard work and effort we put in to life every day. It feels good to know that someone believes in us. Having ourselves validated with compassion is a basic human need for recognition.

But what does yoga have to do with compassion? Dive in to see how both yoga asanas and yoga philosophy can help expand the compassion you have within yourself.

Awareness

In the process of practicing yoga asanas, what happens in your mind? Is your mind wandering away or racing about? Do you wonder how much longer it will be? Are you holding your breath?

What happens in your mind is an important part of yoga asanas. Stillness in the mind is much more challenging than stillness in the body, but both are a large part of the practice.

When your mind is not racing about, when it is calm, you’re able to be aware of the nature and quality of your thoughts instead of getting caught up in them. You’ll notice if your thoughts toward yourself are kind and encouraging; you’ll be better attuned to those moments when you’re hard on yourself or put yourself down.

Acceptance

Now that you’re attuned to what is happening within, do you accept what is happening? Or are you resisting the situation?

Your body will tell you if you’re accepting it or resisting it. Your self-awareness of your reaction will guide you mentally, physically, and emotionally.

If you resist, your nervous system becomes activated to fight whatever you’re resisting. You’ll feel increases in heart rate, shallow breathing, tightness in the abdomen, high mental alertness, and anxiousness.

These are all signs that you’re fighting. This can happen even if you’re simply sitting still in meditation!

To help release the resistance, breathe consciously, steadily, slowly, and deeply. Within a few breaths, you’ll begin to steady the nervous system. Actively releasing the tension in the body will also help.

Compassion

Compassion is the action we take to support empathy. It can be in the form of words spoken aloud or inside your mind. It can be in the form of action, such as when we treat ourselves gently and with love and care.

When we accept what is happening, when we stop resisting, we can consciously make a decision to be compassionate. Acceptance doesn’t mean that no further action takes place! It means you can see where things with you truly are and decide what steps to take next.

Compassion is a multi-step process. This process can occur so quickly it often seems like a single step, but when you find it hard to find compassion within, go through the steps so you can get there.

When we practice compassion with ourselves, we better extend compassion to others because we know how to do it.

Deborah Lim is an internationally certified yoga instructor currently based in Toronto and loves that wearing comfortable clothes is required in her profession. She unleashes her creativity through cooking, crafts and DIY - take a peek into her tasty recipes and uplifting messages in her blog.