This Valentine’s Day we are celebrating self-love. Something we think is often overlooked. It can be as simple as taking some time out for yourself, running a bath, cooking your favourite meal or simply loving yourself through yoga and meditation.

We caught up with Pilates teacher Katharine Jemmett who shared her favourite ‘self-love’ mantras and postures for you to practice today and every day.

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“It is lack of love for ourselves that inhibits compassion toward others. If we make friends with ourselves then there is no obstacle to opening our hearts and minds to others.”

“Your relationship with yourself sets the tone for every other relationship you have. Loving yourself first enables you to fully love others.”

“Talk to yourself like you would talk to someone you love.”

“Workout because you love your body not because you hate it.”

And as Joseph Pilates said “Above all, learn how to breathe correctly.’’

I find that whenever my mind wanders into negativity about my ‘self’ or I find myself in an uncomfortable situation, I try to be focusing on my breathing.

The Pilates Relaxation Position works really well to help you focus on the importance of breathing. The body is supported by the floor and therefore able to fully release.

For the full Relaxation Position give yourself five to ten minutes & proceed as follows:

– Lie on your back, knees bent, with a small flat cushion under your head, so your face is roughly parallel to the floor.

– Both feet and knees are in one level plane and roughly hipbone distance apart.

– Arms are slightly wide by your side, elbows soft, fingers long.

– Imagine that the muscles are melting away, allowing the bones to release and drop into the floor.

– Bring the focus to your breathing and take a deep breath into the back of the ribcage.

– Release and soften the jaw, imagine the breastbone melting away. As the mid back widens, close the ribcage down and together. Breathe the air out of your mouth.

– Take another breath in through the nose widening into the back of the ribcage.

– Keep your head, neck and shoulders relaxed and heavy as once again you release any tension through the breastbone.

– Continue with this thoracic breathing and focus on each out breath.

1. The mid back widening.
2. The jaw releasing.
3. The eyes sinking back into the sockets.
4. The forehead feeling smooth.
5. The head feeling free to move from side to side without tension.
6. The arms feeling heavy, hands and fingers long and free of tension.
7. The thigh bones dropping heavy into the hip sockets.
8. The pelvis and spine lengthening.
9. The feet connected to the floor.
10.The rhythmical expansion and closure of the ribcage.

– Continue for between five to ten minutes then slowly roll onto your side as you sit up.

– Take a breath as you reground yourself and gradually return to your day.

I find that I have more clarity of thought, feel more relaxed and at ease with myself. Any areas of tension have disappeared and generally, I feel more balanced, centered and ready to continue with my day.

In the words of Joseph Pilates:

“True heart control follows correct breathing, which simultaneously reduces heart strain, purifies the blood, & develops the lungs.”

Invest in your breath, love yourself and allow that love to flow out to all those you meet.

Happy Valentines Day!

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