Tuesday, August 16, 2016

How Yoga Has Improved My Confidence

I went to a yoga class Friday for the first time in a couple of weeks. My goal is to get back into the yoga studio more often, because I have been neglecting yoga for months. I try to practice at home, but it just isn't the same as surrendering to someone else's lead so you can go deeper into yourself. I find that when I practice at home I get too distracted and end up only doing the physical movements vs. the inner work. Being in class reminded me just how much yoga has improved my confidence. As I moved from pose to pose, noticing how my body was as creaky as old wooden floors, I also thought about everything yoga has done for me since I started practicing at a tumultuous time of my life.

Yoga & Confidence:

Improved my posture and thus body language. Working on lifting and opening the heart has helped me avoid the slouching position I often take in social situations. I tend to retreat into myself, often physically curling up and crossing my arms, but yoga has taught me to open my arms, hands, and heart to the world.

Practice in public speaking. When I signed up for yoga teacher training in 2013 I was not intending to become a teacher. I just wanted to challenge myself. Becoming certified to teach yoga helped me work on my public speaking, which is difficult for an introvert like me. My first classes were rough. I know my voice cracked and I lost my train of thought frequently. I even skipped many of the poses I planned to teach. But after months of teaching I was a lot more comfortable being in front of a class and I enjoyed it! My confidence showed in my voice and in the fact that I finally forced myself off my mat and around the room to adjust and assist my students.

Trusting myself. Yoga helps you see that the answers you seek are in yourself. It lets you tune in to your inner voice that sometimes get muffled by the noise of the outside world. It also builds trust that you can hold yourself in poses, especially when it comes to inversions. When I practice yoga I have to trust myself to be gentle with my body so I don't hurt myself.

Speaking up. I have always struggled with speaking up for myself. One of the biggest lessons I have learned from yoga has been to speak your truth. I say it often. I live by it. Standing up for yourself is not always easy. Yoga is a constant reminder that I need to live in the truth. 

Showing me my strength. I have surprised myself so many times while practicing yoga. On Friday, for example, I tried pincha mayurasana (forearm balance) for the first time in months. I didn't think I would be able to do it anymore, but I picked up right where I left off. Yoga has shown me time and time again that my body is capable of doing many incredible things, which in turn elevates my confidence.

Helped me work through fear. I don't want to live a life that's held back by fear. Working through poses that terrify me, such as handstands and headstands, has helped me take that newfound confidence off the mat. I won't lie and say I am completely fearless (See my post on ziplining in Costa Rica) but trying new things and stepping out of my comfort zone has improved my confidence immensely.

Have you tried yoga? Did you take anything away from it? Let me know in the comments!

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