How To Use Restorative Yoga To Boost Your Confidence
Many of us have experienced the feeling of not being good enough, whether it's all encompassing or brought on by certain stress-inducing situations. It is a fairly common cultural phenomenon to engage in social comparison, and to constantly strive for more — to have more and to be more.
For many, this pressure is embedded deeply within us. We may not even realize that we're engaging in thoughts that perpetuate this feeling of not being enough. Not pretty enough, not skinny enough, not smart or funny enough, not a good enough husband or girlfriend or friend.
This is ultimately a distorted view that disproportionately sees the self as a summation of flaws, rather than the unique, capable being that it truly is. This overestimation of flaws and an underestimation of strengths, is especially common for women and can take a toll on one's mental and physical state, preventing us from accessing our true potential and joy.
Here is a brief restorative yoga and meditation sequence that can help you reconnect with that still and centered place within, helping you to let go of those feelings of inadequacy and boost your overall confidence. You can use a timer to help you and should try to have some support like a bolster, blankets, or a few pillows on hand.
1. Seated Meditation
Begin by finding a comfortable seat in Easy Pose, with your ankles crossed in front of you and knees resting slightly below the hips. Alternatively you can sit in Hero Pose (Virasana), with your knees together and sit bones to your heels. You can place a block or pillow underneath the sit bones to help elevate the hips and alleviate any discomfort in the knees.
With a long spine, open chest and relaxed shoulders, place both hands on the chest and begin to breathe deeply into the heart space. Begin to think of someone you love deeply, and allow yourself to notice and revel in the unconditional nature of this love. Notice the quality that the feeling has on your heart and in your body.
Allow yourself to rest in this feeling of unconditional love, and notice how it feels to treat yourself in the same way. Continue breathing deeply into your heart, and for about 2-5 minutes, and begin pairing the breath with an affirmation. On you inhale, say to yourself: "I am," followed by "enough" on your exhale.
Allow your body to relax deeper with every exhale as you begin to absorb its meaning. Even if this mantra feels artificial at first, by repeatedly focusing the mind on this simple truth, you are retraining your brain while subtly challenging habituated negative self-talk.
2. Supported Child's Pose
After a few minutes, begin to make your way into a supported Child's Pose (Balasana), by using a bolster, thickly rolled blankets, or stacks of pillows between the thighs, so that the torso, chest, shoulders, head and neck are fully supported. As you sit back toward your heels and rest your arms by your sides, allow your body to fully release from the hips, tailbone, and pelvis, to the belly, shoulders, neck and face.
Massage the forehead by gently rolling it from side to side on the bolster. Ensuring that your body feels fully supported is key here — you can add more pillows or cushion, widen your legs, take the arms forward or back or wrap them around the front of the bolster — whatever adjustments are needed to allow you to feel more at ease.
Once there, continue to rest as you breathe deeply — with every exhale letting your muscles, spine and pelvis release deeper toward the ground.
If desired, pair the breath with the affirmation: "I allow myself to let go," on your inhale and then exhaling: "I have all that I need."
Allow your breaths to fall into a slow, subtle rhythm. Stay here for at least five minutes if you can. Allowing the muscles to be supported while attuning your mind and senses to this feeling of complete support, is deeply soothing to the nervous system and a stressed, over-worked mind. Recognize the ways that you are supported all of the time, whether by the universe or by the strengths residing in you.
3. Spinal Massage
As the final pose, roll onto your back and hug the knees to your chest. Maybe rocking forward and back to massage the spine a few times, and then side to side to massage the whole back.
Roll the knees around in slow circles — small or large — to massage through the low back and invite any movement that feels nourishing to the spine, hips, low back and shoulders.
Stay here for a few minutes, hugging the knees toward your heart with great care. You can pair each inhale and exhale with the silent mantra: "I love myself exactly as I am," or simply stay here and soak in this tender, nourishing pose that allows for a deep low back release while breathing into your heart space.
When we treat ourselves in a loving, tender way — both in our physical postures and in the things that we say to ourselves — we begin to believe that we are worthy of unconditional love, acceptance and support. And then those feelings of "not good enough" will begin to be revealed as no more than an illusion.