People come to yoga for many different reasons—a desire to improve fitness, a way to relieve stress, or an opportunity for self-inquiry. For many, that initial push into yoga is just the tip of the iceberg, and once the yoga practice takes off, they find much more along the way.
We all harbor insecurities and negative feelings about our bodies or abilities. These limiting thoughts can prevent us from seeing and feeling all of the potential that exists for us. This lack of love can be really detrimental to our own mental state, but also in our ability to connect with and hold space for others.
One of the amazing gifts that yoga has given me, and one of the things I really want to offer my students is the chance to cultivate self love. Self love can be cultivated in several ways. I always start my yoga classes with a short meditation, so that everyone can settle into themselves. Meditation is a gift you can give yourself. Never meditated before? I recommend this free 30 Day Meditation Challenge. It’ll help you ground your before you start moving to the music!
When I’m designing classes that center on self-love, I build a playlist that will promote a sense of acceptance, vulnerability, and of course, love. These are my favorite 10 songs to inspire your self love journey.
1. "Let it Go" by James Bay
If you’ve been to a yoga class in the past two years, you’ve probably heard this song on the playlist. As yoga teachers, we are constantly telling our students to let go of what no longer serves them. A really important step in the self love journey is to let go of the stories we tell ourselves that make us feel lacking. So with the help of this beauty of a song, “why don't you be you, and I’ll be me."
2. "Love is All" by The Tallest Man on Earth
When I'm feeling down on myself, I need one of two things. First, I need to embrace and release those feelings by writing, crying, and meditating. This song is deeply emotional but makes you feel as if you’re not alone in those feelings of sadness—and often, that is the first step in a healing journey.
3. "I Love Me" by Meghan Trainor
The second thing I need when I’m doubting myself is a confidence boost. That’s where this absolute boss lady comes in. I love Meghan’s unapologetic self-love and confidence, and this song lets that wear off on me. She reminds me that I am here, I am powerful, and I love myself!
4. "A Head Full of Dreams" by Coldplay
Alright, here’s your fair warning: the next three songs are Coldplay, but for very good reason. At my lowest point, the place that brought me to yoga, the music that pulled me out of a hole of depression, low confidence, and hopelessness was exclusively Coldplay.
This song is so upbeat and uplifting. It’s a reminder that you are full of wonderful, achievable, and valid dreams, and you have the knowledge, power, and capacity to reach them. Pair this song with a run and let those endorphins take over.
5. "Up & Up" by Coldplay
There are good days and bad days when it comes to self love. Some days I feel super confident in myself and my path, other days I feel totally lost and undeserving of success. Then, I put this tune on and remember that even on the darkest days, there is light. Some days it will feel like an uphill climb, but we have to keep moving up. This song makes that feel more attainable.
6. "A Sky Full of Stars" by Coldplay
A lot of times when we feel less than, we turn to others for answers. We look to social media and compare our lives to those little square representations of “perfection.” Not only are these inaccurate representations of life, but they also create an even deeper sense of imperfection in us. Here’s what we need to remember: no one’s life is perfect.
Even those people we feel jealous of have their doubts, insecurities, and fears, just like you. And despite those flaws, we are all already whole and enough. We are each a sky full of stars, with a bright light to share (right, Coldplay?!).
7. "This Feeling" by Alabama Shakes
Looking to others for inspiration is not always counter-productive. In fact, I love the new trend in social media to air your imperfections and show what daily life really looks like with all of its dirty, unpolished moments. Sometimes we need to hear others' stories to remind us that we’re not alone.
I love the vulnerability in this song, but also the message that despite how many times you get knocked down, you can pull yourself back up and everything will truly be alright.
8. "Rambling Man" by Laura Marling
Along those same lines, this is a song about remaining true to yourself. It's easy to become lost on our journeys of self- acceptance. We can become distracted by bright, shiny things—things that offer short-term satisfaction. But when those things cause us to compromise our values, our deepest sense of who we are, we lose a bit of ourselves.
Staying true to yourself, listening to that voice deep within that knows what's right, is the only way to embrace yourself fully.
9. "Shake It Off" by Taylor Swift
Say what you want about Taylor Swift, but this girl has gotten me through some tough times. Sometimes, you physically need to shake off whatever is getting you down, and this is obviously the best song for that particular part of the self-love journey.
10. "Higher Love" by James Vincent McMorrow
What I’m trying to get at with the idea of self-love is that it goes much deeper than an outward projection of happiness. As many of us who find ourselves practicing yoga know, happiness is rooted in a deep feeling of self-acceptance.
It is difficult to love another, to bring love to our jobs, our families, and to any other situation if we can’t first find that love for ourselves. This "higher love" comes from lots of work and a commitment to understanding and accepting ourselves. I am able to sit with that deep connection when I listen to this song.
This playlist is totally random in terms of genre, but that's also how a journey of self love can feel like. There are high days and low days, times when you just need to sit with emotions, and times when you want to move, run and shake your body to feel something deeper.
Music has an amazing ability to unite us, to make us feel connected and empowered, and to even heal us. I encourage you to find the music that makes you feel supported and inspired, as this playlist does for me.