The way many of us talk to ourselves isn’t particularly kind. Our mental conversations are full of criticism—perhaps about how we look, a blunder we made at work, or just generally not being or doing enough.
But beating yourself up is exhausting, and it usually doesn’t work to change behavior, research has shown. The good news: It takes just a little repetition to make self-compassion a rejuvenating habit, and yoga can help. This sequence of gentle moves by Sara Clark, a yoga and mindfulness teacher based in New York City (you can subscribe to her classes or sign up for a free 15-day trial here), is designed to help you appreciate your strong, beautiful mind and body and all that they do for you.
Fair warning: This practice may change your whole outlook, says Clark, as your mindset gradually shifts and being nicer to yourself permeates your everyday life. “These moves focus your awareness on your heart, which is the seat of compassion, empathy, and love,” she says. Research shows that self-compassion is strongly linked to overall well-being, especially in women. Repeat these words to yourself before each move: I am enough. Because you are—and you deserve to feel like it.
How to do it: Place your hands on your heart. With your feet hip-width apart and parallel, stand rooted and tall. Keep your chest lifted, and make sure all four corners of each foot are planted on the ground. Hold for 10 slow breaths.
Why it works: Pausing at the start of your yoga flow gives you the chance to observe how your body is feeling without judgment while slowing down the breath and enjoying the present moment, says Clark. It also encourages good posture as the spine lengthens upward.