Sure, the concept of having confidence sounds simple enough, but yet, for so many of us, it can be kind of tough. Growing up in a time where “filters” have become the norm, anything less than perfection almost seems to be frowned upon, and one tiny flaw can lead to an unnecessary (and unhealthy) amount of self-loathing. And if all our value is rooted in outward appearances, we’ll never be confident in who we are because true confidence can only come from within. The acknowledgement of one’s true self and what makes us each unique is what leads to confidence, and one great way to get more in tune with the real you, is through the practice of yoga.
“Yoga has boosted my self-confidence in so many ways, such as feeling stronger, and more capable and graceful within my body,” Jennifer Reis, yoga instructor at the Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health, tells Bustle. “The most profound change, however, has been by cultivating the practice of ‘witnessing’ with compassion.”
Reis adds that yoga is a daily reminder that she is already whole and complete, just as she is — and that, my friends, is the true essence of confidence. While Reis says that a daily yoga practice is ideal to reap the full confidence-boosting benefits, it is not absolutely necessary in order to notice a difference. She tells her students to aim for a “daily-ish” practice — even if 15 minutes is all you have, it’s still worth it!
So what are a few good confidence-boosting yoga poses? Find out below and try incorporating them into your next flow.
1. Upward Facing Dog
Upward-Facing Dog Pose improves posture; strengthens the spine, arms, and wrists; and stretches the chest and lungs, shoulders, and abdomen. It also helps to stimulate the abdominal organs and relieve mild depression, fatigue, and sciatica.
"All backbends are known to stimulate the solar plexus center," says Reis. "And according to yoga, that is the confidence energy center of the body."
2. Warrior I
Warrior I pose stretches the chest and lungs, shoulders and neck, belly and groins. It also strengthens the shoulders, arms, and muscles of the back, as well as strengthens and stretches the thighs, calves, and ankles. "The warrior poses help me to feel strong by connecting me with the earth through my feet, and I love to feel my legs really working," says Reis. "With arms extended and my heart lifted, I feel compassion expanding both inward towards myself and outward to the world."
3. Warrior II
Warrior II strengthens the legs and ankles, while also stretching the groins, chest and lungs, and shoulders. This pose helps stimulate the abdominal organs, increases stamina, and relieves backaches.
4. Warrior III
Warrior III strengthens the ankles and legs, as well as the shoulders and back muscles. It also tones the abdomen and improves balance and posture.
5. Lord of the Dance Pose
Dancer's Pose stretches the shoulders and chest, as well as the thighs, groins, and abdomen. It also strengthens the legs and ankles and improves balance.
"I think the physical exuberance of practicing yoga asana is hardly personified better than dancer pose," says Yoga Instructor and Instagram celebrity, Jessamyn Stanley. "No matter how it's expressed, the practitioner's form is always the absolute definition of free happiness and that translates to other parts of life."
6. Boat Pose
Boat Pose can be performed in a few different ways — with knees bent, legs straight, or using the middle and index fingers to yogi toe-lock the big toes. Any way you choose to practice it, Boat Pose strengthens the abdomen, hip flexors, and spine, while also stimulating the kidneys, thyroid and prostate glands, and intestines. This pose also helps to relieve stress and improve digestion.
7. Supported Headstand
Supported Headstand calms the brain and helps relieve stress and mild depression. It stimulates the pituitary and pineal glands, as well as strengthens the arms, legs, and spine; tones the abdominal organs; and helps to improve digestion.
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Images: Maggie Giuffrida