Boost Your Confidence With Yoga
Step onto your mat and overcome self-doubt as you work through these asanas.
In 2003, Hawaiian surfer Bethany Hamilton was descending from the crest of a wave when a 4-metre-long tiger shark attacked and bit off her left arm. While many in her position would hang up their surfboards for good, the courageous athlete started training again a month after the incident.
Within two years, she went on to clinch her first national surfing title, never mind that her competitors were all able-bodied surfers. “If I thought of myself as disabled I wouldn’t be where I am today,” said Bethany, 30, in an interview with ABC News.
Adjusting to surfing with one arm was a whole new dynamic altogether, but Bethany was on a mission to become the best surfer she could be, regardless of what her body looked like.
Driven by her singular focus to recover and compete with the very best, Bethany only envisioned what she could achieve. Her physical limitations were simply perimeters she had to work around mentally.
Indeed, the ability to overcome self-doubt is one that can be nurtured through your yoga practice. For some, simply coming into a seated forward bend is a challenge in itself – one that requires weeks, or even months of stretching before the head is able to rest on the legs. For others, it is the trepidation that comes with working their way into their first headstand.
But when you look back on your progress and see how you’ve gradually built strength and flexibility, you realise that yoga never asks us to learn anything but by degrees. And as your posture begins to change, you gain a sense of confidence and courage that you can carry with you beyond the mat. Below, some poses that help to ignite and boost your confidence.
Tadasana (Mountain Pose)
It might look deceptively simple, but this pose can only be achieved when you are fully aware of your alignment before you can stand firm and erect like a majestic mountain. To begin, stand with your feet together before lifting and spreading the toes and balls of the feet evenly. You should distribute the weight of your body evenly across both feet. Draw your thighs and kneecaps up and squeeze the muscles on the back of your thighs. Thereafter, lift your chest and pull your abdomen in. Keep your neck and spine straight. Relax your shoulders. Let your arms hang with your palms beside the thighs. Hold the pose for 30 to 60 seconds. As you stay in the pose, let your awareness travel across your body as you dedicate your practice to building courage and self-confidence.
Parivrtta Parsvakonasana (Revolved Side-Angle Twist)
Besides strengthening the legs and stretching the spine, chest, and shoulders, this invigorating post also stimulates the abdominal organs, improves digestion, and aids in elimination. Begin by standing in Tadasana. Step the left foot back and bend the right knee to ensure the shin is perpendicular to the floor. Be sure to keep your right thigh parallel to the floor. Inhale and raise your left arm while lifting the left heel off and pivoting on the ball of your foot. Keep the left leg active by lifting the thigh and extending through the left heel. To fold into your twist, exhale, turn your upper body to the right and bring the left arm outside of the right knee. Fold your palms together in front of your chest, ensuring that your elbows form a straight line. Turn your head to look up. Hold the pose for a minute. If you have neck problems, don’t twist your head upwards. Instead, look straight ahead or down at the floor.
Virabhadrasana II (Warrior II)
With your arms outstretched and your legs parted and firmly grounded, this expansive posture allows you to inhabit the space around you with confidence. Besides strengthening the calf and thigh muscles, it also helps to tone the back muscles. Begin by standing in Tadasana before stepping your feet wide apart and spreading your arms out to the side. Turn your left foot to the left and rotate the right foot in 45 degrees. Bend the left knee until your thigh is parallel to the floor as you straighten your right leg. Keep your shoulders level and look over your left hand. Hold the pose for a minute. Release the pose. Repeat the pose on the opposite side.