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Yoga for Self-Confidence: Bending to Breakthrough

 

Everyone has experienced a sense of insecurity—missing the winning goal; unrequited love; unexpected unemployment…the list goes on and on. It’s human nature after all, to recognize and learn from our experiences…and move forward.

However, when these experiences build-up over time, growing into a lack of self-confidence and paralyzing fear, it can conquer us in a life-altering way. The reality is, we all have experienced and will continue to experience these moments throughout life. The secret to our ability to move through fear and muster the courage to take steps and action that will re-build our confidence is knowing what tools you have on hand when faced with these challenging times.

Developing a strong practice and connection with the postures of yoga is not only a means of physical exercise, but is a holistic tool that has been around for thousands of years helping people move through life challenges that can impact one’s self-confidence, ranging from anxiety, to depression, addiction and fear.

Attending yoga class whether in a studio or a gym can be intimidating. Often times, new or even existing yoga students are afraid of the media images that promote yoga class as hours of sitting still or body postures that look humanely impossible.

When in fact, the practice of yoga is meant to serve as the opposite, time on your mat that is dedicated personal space to move physically and create an opportunity to connect more closely with yourself, ultimately finding comfort in your own presence.

Yoga can boost your self-confidence through:

Stress Relief & Emotional Management

There is a lot more to yoga practice than getting into shape physically—in fact, this isn’t the main objective at all. One of the major causes of mental overload is stress, which can be a trigger for depression in certain serious cases.

Yoga can help you release these stressors through a series of meditative and relaxing breathing exercises, which can increase the circulation of oxygen in the mind and body, thus enabling your overall flow of energy.

This may help you recognize and process your stress more effectively as it arises, which in turn will eliminate your fear and boost your self-confidence.

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Body-Positive Community

Yoga helps people of all ages to create a peaceful and inviting space together, outside of society’s expectations. Many body-image issues are related to the need for control, whereas yoga is about fostering the courage to let go. Silencing the mind and focusing on the breath and the body can break the habit of perfectionism, and instead creates a deep appreciation for your body’s positive capabilities.

Attending local yoga classes are a great way to have fun with like-minded friends and to build new relationships that are not rooted in physical appearance.

Release of Negativity

Yoga allows us to pause and silence the mind for long enough to actually reflect on our bad habits and negative thought process — and better understand how these may be driving our actions. We often paint lesser images of ourselves at a young age when insecurity is heightened—especially how we’re portrayed by others —which can trigger self-loathing. Often as we move through adulthood, we’re still carrying those skewed portraits of ourselves, despite their falsity.

Yoga can erase the whiteboard and offer a clean slate for newfound self-acceptance; a chance to bend until you break through all of the bull—negativity, rather, that’s been standing in the way of your hopes and dreams.

What if I Can’t Find Time to Make it to a Yoga Class?

If it seems impossible to carve out time in your schedule to take a yoga class or follow along to a yoga video at home, try taking your focus to your breathing in moments that challenge your peace of mind. Something as simple as focusing your mind on the words, “inhale” and “exhale” as you breathe in and out can help to pull you out of the mental story your mind is weaving about yourself, your abilities or the circumstance triggering the emotions, and bring you mentally, physically and emotionally grounded back in the present moment.

Performing a set of simple breathing exercises, postures and meditation can help you to begin to bend mentally, emotionally and physically to break through self-doubt, fear, sadness…whatever negative energy is holding you back from where you want to go, be, do and experience in this lifetime.

Bend so much that you have a breakthrough.

 

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Dr. Jodi Ashbrook is the owner of Open Doors Yoga Studios in Hingham, Massachusetts, founder & CEO of The BE Brand ® and President of Dr. Jodi Inc. She is passionate about creating experiences where people can grow, reflect and believe in themselves.

Where is Your Energy Going?

We have 24 hours a day to accomplish all our tasks, tend to our needs, interact with others, AND stop and smell the roses–if we’re lucky. Generally, in this part of the developed world the most dedicated and drained multitaskers and workaholics are practically given medals by their superiors, friends and family for their killer ‘work ethic.’

Who cares? We all should. In a time where, generally, our collective energy output is far greater than our energy input, we’re at risk of burning out and losing our connection to each other. I, for one, think that’s terrifying.

I am just as driven and hard-working as some of those superhero employees–heck I’m writing this at 7:00 AM before I head into work for a 10 hour day. I bet you are just as busy, too. Maybe you break up your work hours in a different way, but most of us are juggling two or more jobs and commitments all at once.

Whether we feel forced or inspired to spend our 24 hours a day working and moving, we DSC4840are draining ourselves of energy. Many of us continue to putter away at household chores and to-do lists, forgetting to turn-off our worker switch when we’re home and done for the day, too. While these items might feel like they need to be done today or every day, they aren’t going anywhere. Your chores are always waiting for you.

What’s not waiting for you is life. While you drain your energy on working in a variety of ways you deplete your resources, often losing touch with your lighter self- the one who laughs, who is truly present for their friends, family and other human beings, who takes warm baths and sees the odd movie. When you pour so much out of yourself you have to take some energy back in.

If ‘work ethic’ can be defined as the, “belief in the moral benefit and importance of work and its inherent ability to strengthen character,” as per Dictionary Reference, then a working definition for what I call ‘energy equilibrium’ could be, “conscious effort by an individual to balance energy input and output, for the sake of mental, physical and emotional health.”

So, how do you receive energy? You start by looking at self-love. Are you practicing it? If not, avoid judging yourself, just make a commitment in this moment to take better care of the unique and powerful vessel you’ve been given. Think of your body and brain as a vehicle and when that vehicle runs out of gas it breaks down and leaves you stranded.

Energy input starts with taking care of numero uno.

What do you naturally enjoy to do? What helps you to relax? What makes you laugh? What naturally soothes your sorrows? Ask yourself these questions and then listenphoto.PNG-2 closely to what your heart says in return. When you’re feeling depleted, refill your energy resources with activities, thoughts and movements that bring a smile to your face.
If all you need to do to bring your energy levels back into balance or find that ‘energy equilibrium’ is a walk around the park after work each day, or a massage a couple of times a month, then do it. A fundamental part of my self-care routine is meditating and practicing yoga every day, no matter what. Throw a bubble bath and a rooftop patio glass of wine on top and I’m feeling full of positive energy after a beautiful, but energetically draining day.

A key part of finding energetic balance is including positive interaction with other human beings in your everyday life. If you’re constantly surrounding yourself with people who take and take from you without giving, or who suck the life out of you with their negativity, you’re losing energy, too. Choose to surround yourself with people who fill you up, challenge you to grow and who take care of themselves—because that way you’re more likely to as well. Make your health and happiness just as important as your success and you’ll find balance in your life!

Namaste

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Eryl McCaffrey is a Yoga Teacher/ Studio Manager from Toronto. She’s also a Freelance Writer, who’s passionate about health and wellness. Eryl believes in the power of love to heal and advance the world. Her blog: twofeetheartbeat.wordpress.com

Lessons from a Teacher & Student

 

I’ve loved yoga since I was 13, when my dad let me borrow his yoga postures handbook from the 70’s. I fell more deeply in love with the practice over the past couple of years and when I came to the realization that I wanted to teach yoga, I me-yogafeared change. I was scared of how my personal yoga practice might change as a student when I started teaching it. I thought I might fall out of love with yoga, because I was doing it for a living. Not so!

I am blessed to be both a teacher and student of yoga and life! Being on both sides of the table means I develop awareness about my body, mind and soul and see how yoga is embodied and understood in others–which is truly inspiring. So, I thought I’d share the lessons I’ve learned from playing both roles.

We’re All the Same

Don’t get your lulu’s in a knot just yet. I recognize that we are all unique (see below), but I also recognize how similar we are. On a basic, universal level we are all one. I’ll experience struggle on my mat in a certain pose and then see the same struggle in the face of a student in the same pose when I teach. It is only by seeing ourselves in others that we are able to truly connect, be present and empower others. As far as I’m concerned, we all sweat, loathe certain poses, celebrate others AND we all crave inner peace. Because I’m able to recognize our sameness as human beings, I have access to more compassion for people and a deeper kind of self-love.

We’re All Unique

As human beings, we’re all made from the same cloth, but each of us is also marked by uniqueness. I can say a cue or give direction when I’m teaching and see it resonate differently with every single person in the class. For example, if Idancers say ‘engage your core,’ one student might hug their lower belly in towards their spine, another might draw the front of their ribs together, while another might tuck their tailbone under to straighten their spine. We all interpret information differently and experience yoga in different ways. As both a teacher and student, individuality reminds me of the power of yoga to heal and transform anybody and any BODY!

Living Means Growing

As a yoga teacher and student I am always learning and growing. I’m learning from my students and they are learning from me. As a student, I learn from my teachers and they, hopefully, learn from me, and then the cycle repeats itself. Whether I’m practicing yoga or teaching it I’m constantly learning about the body, mind and soul and the importance of feeding each aspect. My yoga journey so far has taught me that it all comes back to self-love. When we show ourselves love and compassion the path towards growth and enlightenment doesn’t seem as impossible and intimidating, because we know we deserve it, need it and can handle anything that comes our way! Not to mention, when we love ourselves deeply we can love those around use deeply, too.

Namaste.

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Eryl McCaffrey is a Yoga Teacher from Toronto, Ontario. She’s also a Freelance Writer, who’s passionate about health and wellness. Eryl believes in the power of love to heal and advance the world. Blog: twofeetheartbeat.wordpress.com