It’ll come as no surprise when I say that our body language, or non-verbal communication, governs how other people perceive us. Whether you walk into the center of a room and stand tall or cower into the corner, your choice of body language will inevitably determine how the people around will react to you.
However the subconscious messaging doesn’t stop here. Scientific research suggests that not only does your own body language determine how other people perceive you it also defines how you perceive yourself too. In other words, if you stand up tall with your arms reaching high above your head, you can send a message of confidence to your mind. Whilst if you sit down with arms and legs crossed you’ll be sending the opposite message to your mind.
So if our body language can govern how we think and feel about ourselves then we can certainly use our yoga practice to modify our internal dialogue and improve our self-belief. BKS Iyengar once said, ‘Yoga does not just change the way we see things, it transforms the person who sees’. So when you’re next feeling a little anxious about a important meeting, or nervous before an interview, here are 3 simple yoga poses that you can practice to help improve your confidence:
Warrior 1 (Virabradrasana A)
Research suggests that if you want to trick your mind into feeling confident, you need to make yourself physically big and occupy the space around you. The strength and stability required to practice Warrior 1 is a perfect option for this as the name itself suggests. Imagine that you are a Warrior! In order to practice Warrior 1, step your front foot forward with the toes pointing straight towards the front of your mat whilst you back foot is at 45 degree angle. Your feet aren’t on a type rope here; have a little space in between your feet so that you are able to square hips to the front of the mat. Bend into your front knee and notice that your knee is directly above your ankle or less. With your hips facing forward, find a neutral positioning of the pelvis. As you raise your arms up straight above your head, ensure that your shoulders are relaxed as you draw your shoulder blades towards one another and broaden your chest. There is a tendency here to flare into the front ribs so notice that you are using your core muscles here by knitting the front ribs back.
If you want to feel confident, stand tall and proud like a tree! From standing, shift your weight onto the left foot, keeping the inner foot firm to the floor, and bend your right knee. Draw your right foot up and place the sole against the inner left thigh, inner calf muscle or inner ankle with your toes touching the floor. Notice that the center of your pelvis is directly over the left foot. Place your hands on the top rim of your pelvis to make sure that it is parallel to the floor. Lengthen your tailbone toward the floor. Firmly press the right foot sole against the inner thigh/ calf or ankle and resist with the outer left leg. Raise your arms straight above your head, making sure that you keep your shoulders relaxed. Gaze softly at a fixed point in front of you on the floor about 4 or 5 feet away. Stay for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Step back to standing with an exhalation and repeat for the same length of time on the other leg.
Supine Butterfly (Supta Badha Konasana)
Holding a pose, such as Supta Badha Konasana is an effective way to apply a gentle stretch to Pectoral Minor muscle. Pec Minor is a postural muscle and one of its main actions is to bring the shoulder carriage forward. As we spend so much of our time with our shoulders in this position (driving a car, on the computer or picking up children), this small but vitally important muscle can become pretty tight and result in pore posture as the shoulders roll excessively in towards one another. Roll up your Yoga mat until it’s diameter is between 3-4 inches. Lie back onto the rolled up mat so it supports the length of your spine and your shoulder blades can rest on either side of the mat. At this point, you may need to adjust the diameter to make sure it is comfortable for you. Make sure that the mat supports your head. Bend your knees and let them fall out to the side while you bring the soles of your feet together into Badha Konasana. Place your arms into ‘cactus’, making sure that your elbows are at the same height or higher than your shoulders. Practice this pose for 3-5 minutes paying close attention to your breath by seeing if you can make your exhalation longer than your inhalation.
So if you are feeling down, depressed or anxious take 10 minutes out of your day to establish a daily routine in which you practice these 3 simple postures. Practice the poses in this order at the start of each day to prepare your mind for whatever challenges lie ahead and notice how you can use your body to transform your mind.