Many of us are aware that a regular yoga practice not only offers innumerable health benefits, it also enhances the way we feel about ourselves. From kids to seniors, yoga has a powerful effect in boosting levels of self-confidence. Most of the time, during or immediately following a yoga class, feelings of doubt and insecurity vanish. But for some, the moment we leave the yoga studio our fears return, and we fall back into patterns that promote low self-esteem. This can be avoided.
The following are three ways you can continue to foster your self-assurance and maintain the boost in confidence you earned during your yoga practice, long after it is over.
1. Believe fear is just an illusion
Think back to your last yoga class experience. Do you remember having a moment of confidence because nothing else mattered? This feeling is the result of the absence of fear. Where did your fear go? It didn’t go anywhere, because it wasn’t really there in the first place.
Yoga unveils the truth. The reason you feel less anxious when you practice is because you are being made aware that the type of fear you feel (self-imposed fear, not the reaction to a real threat) is simply an illusion. It is not real.
When you roll up your yoga mat, you must keep the faith that your fear is a product of your own imagination, and just like you have the ability to pretend it is there, you have the ability to make it go away.
2. Stay in the moment by letting go of expected outcomes
Stepping on a yoga mat is like stepping into a time machine. Unrelenting memories of the past melt, our fear of the future becomes incomprehensible, and the present moment swaddles us in comfort like our favorite childhood blanket.
In yoga we are taught to let go of expectation and live in the moment, because joy is found in the journey. It is a relatively easy concept on the yoga mat, because the entire journey of a yoga class usually feels fabulous. As soon as we step back out into the world, deadlines, expectations, and the pressure to perform have us way too focused on the end result.
Letting go of outcomes is not an indication that you have given up on life; it is a skill that will help boost your confidence by releasing your attachment to them. When your self-confidence doesn’t hinge on an expected outcome, life’s pursuits are joyous and esteem-building endeavors.
3. Give yourself credit for your accomplishments in daily life
If you practice yoga on a regular basis, you’ll begin to notice physical improvements. Maybe after several weeks you are able to reach your hands past your knees in a forward bend, or perhaps you’ve mastered a handstand without the support of a wall. However large or small your improvements in yoga, you will likely feel somewhat triumphant, and glow with humble pride as a result of what you accomplished.
Too often we overlook the things we do in our daily life, because they do not seem as significant compared with what we can do on the yoga mat. This is absurd! A friend of mine recently called me to tell me how excited she was to finally get into wheel pose. After talking for nearly an hour about her success in yoga, she said, “Oh yeah, and by the way, I got a promotion at work.”
I love the fact that yoga gives people such a rush of self-assuredness, but saddened when the rest of life’s accomplishments don’t do the same. If we can’t get excited about the other stuff, how are we going to feel confident about our lives off the mat?
Next time you do something, even if it seems like no big deal, give yourself some credit. Thank yourself for everything you have achieved, because not everyone can do the special and unique things that you can do.
Just as in yoga, give yourself a chance to appreciate who you are and what you do, without imposing conditions based on an end result. And most importantly, trust that fear is simply a product of your imagination, and put it behind you for good.