We’ve all been there before…
That stressful work meeting, a nerve-wracking presentation, a new situation that has our palms sweating and stomach turning. After all…
Living life to the fullest means pushing our limits and braving new, uncomfortable situations.
The good news is that practicing yoga on a regular basis can empower you, cultivate your confidence, and dramatically improve your self-esteem in new, challenging situations.
Not only does yoga influence body awareness, but the lessons learned on your mat can directly extend into real-life situations. Even something as simple as facing your fears in a new arm balance (and learning to laugh when you fall) can extend into facing your fears in an intimidating situation (and ultimately being content with whatever the resulting outcome is).
Wherever you are on your yoga journey, if you find you need a quick confidence boost, one of the best things to do is pause and practice yoga. Get started with these five yoga poses to cultivate confidence today:
1. Mountain Pose (Tadasana)
When you’re feeling anxious or nervous, one of the best things to do is get still and rooted. Mountain Pose is an excellent posture for this.
- With your feet firmly rooted to the ground beneath you, begin to inhale. Feel yourself growing taller.
- On the exhale, connect deeper to the ground beneath you without losing the length you just created.
- Roll the shoulders away from the ears and down the back.
- Stay here for ten breaths, growing taller and opening through the heart and chest more and more on each inhale.
If you allow yourself to shrink up into a ball with rounded shoulders and head dropped, then you will naturally feel smaller and more insecure.
However, by growing tall and opening your chest, you will send a message to your brain that you are powerful, capable and confident.
Watch this video to learn from Cecilia Sardeo, host of Zenward, who shares a step-by-step guide on how to master Mountain Pose.
2. Warrior 2 (Virabhadrasana II)
What better way to cultivate confidence than by tapping into your inner warrior?
- From Downward Dog, step your right foot forward to meet your hands at the top of your mat.
- Pivot the left foot so that it is parallel with the back edge of your mat, toes pointing in slightly as needed.
- Windmill the arms up so that they are parallel with the ground and extending powerfully out to the sides.
- Gaze forward over your middle finger and sink into your hips (without leaning forward or backward.)
- Visualize your inner warrior as you hold this pose for a few breaths before switching sides.
3. Warrior 3 (Virabhadrasana III)
This warrior posture combines elements of strength, balance and grace, making it ideal to practice when you’re feeling like you could use an extra dose of all those characteristics!
- From a strong, standing position, bring your right knee into your chest.
- Slowly begin to hinge at the hips, strongly kicking your right foot out behind you as you bring your torso parallel with your mat.
- Pause here to find length as you kick back with the right heel and stretch through the crown of the head. If you feel strong, extend the arms out in front of you.
- Hold for a few breaths and then switch sides.
Focusing on your balance will help take your mind off of your worries while also leaving you energized and excited to take on whatever new challenges you face.
4. Tree Pose (Vriksasana)
Often when we feel overwhelmed and anxious, one of the best things we can do is get out in nature to put things back in perspective. Whether or not you can take your practice outdoors, you can visualize the beautiful world we live in while practicing Tree Pose.
- Picture yourself growing roots as you get grounded and energized. Then, lift the right foot to the ankle, shin or thigh.
- Find balance here. Just as you did in Mountain Pose, feel yourself getting taller.
- Keep your arms at your heart center, or lift them strongly overhead.
- Breathe deeply as you cultivate calm confidence before switching sides.
5. One-To-One Breathing
If you only do one of these practices, make it this one.
Coming back to the breath is the most effective way to slow a racing heart and tap into the inner strength and confidence that you already hold within you.
- First, take a comfortable seat. If you need to sit up on blankets, blocks or even a chair, that is completely okay.
- Begin by breathing normally as you settle into your seat and calm your mind.
- Then, start to lengthen the inhale, breathing deeply and filling the lungs completely. Count the number of seconds you inhale.
- Then, slowly exhale, matching the same length and intensity of your inhale. For example, if you inhale for three counts, then you will also exhale for three counts.
- Close your eyes and continue this slow, rhythmic breathing for at least a few minutes. Be sure to start and end each breath in your lower belly, fully filling up the whole body.
If you can’t escape a stressful situation to move into a full yoga practice, just slipping away to try any of these postures above can make a dramatic improvement in your confidence and self-esteem.
At the very least, slowing a racing heart and coming back to your breath will remind you that you already have everything you need within—no matter what the rest of the world throws your way.