It took me years to build true confidence, to understand that I am “good enough” and that it is ok to occasionally do something that makes me cringe or not to be where I wanted to be or where I thought I ‘should be’. Here’s why I believe yoga can help you build up your confidence and self-esteem.
I’ve always been shy, very shy, actually almost to a crippling point. So my friends were very surprised when I went to drama school. But the truth is that many performers are actually introverts or shy in their ‘normal’ lives. One thing is the persona you build on stage, and the other is… well… you! The real you.
With time maybe you learn to be outwardly confident, especially in a job or activity you’ve done before. The world around you might mistake you for being very confident or even arrogant. But how is your inner confidence, your self-esteem?
For many performers, self-esteem can fluctuate up and down depending on external validation. But that also applies to more and more people in our social media world. We are all constantly exposed, constantly ‘on stage’, constantly feeling judged and observed. Even if we choose to do so.
Yoga can help us build internal self-esteem, the only one that counts.
I may not have rock-solid confidence levels, my impostor syndrome might kick in sometimes… but less and less. Much less! I’m feeling pretty happy with where I am and who I am. I do know now that just doing my best, and not being attached to the result (or any external validation) is what counts. I cut myself some slack and that’s ok.
Not being attached to the result? it’s difficult to let go if you do any type of creative work; but we would be happier, fulfilled and creative if we could just remember that what matters is not perfection, but sharing ourselves and our own vulnerability with others.
Theatre has been key in building my confidence, working in collaboration, creating something from nothing, making projects happen. Yoga has helped me along the way; Yoga has been my companion for 20 plus years, silently in the background, and even without me realising has helped my confidence.
I even did a video about it. I babble a bit in that video since it wasn’t scripted, but I guess it’s the feeling that counts. Would you like to hear me mumble a bit about how yoga helped my confidence?
I’d like to add a bit more to why I think yoga can help with confidence.
Postures have feelings too
Yoga teachers have known for a long time that yoga poses have an effect on how we feel. For example, backbends tend to be uplifting, forward bends are more calming. There are yoga poses that make you stand firmly and hold your arms wide like the “warrior” poses, which could inspire feelings of confidence.
As someone who works with the body and the interrelations between body and mind, I don’t find this to be new information. When training actors the body is the main tool we work with and we know that there’s a clear relation between the shape our body creates in space and the feelings it conjures up inside.
Yoga is non-competitive
Yoga boosts confidence because it is non-competitive. We don’t have to ‘succeed’ at anything or reach a certain ‘ideal. It allows us to simply observe the body, breath and mind and accept its limitations and work with it. We learn to be in the moment, and with our bodies instead of trying to achieve a perceived ideal.
If practising in a room with other people it’s important not to compare ourselves to the person next to us, because bodies are different and your bone structure doesn’t make you a better or worse yogi. That’s why I love practising online, in the safe of my own space. One less reason to be distracted by comparisons that could damage our confidence.
Yoga encourages positive self-talk
Yoga can make us aware of a negative critical voice inside our head. We’ve all heard it at one point or another. It’s that voice that belittles you and makes you believe that you can’t do something, be something or even worse things.
Would you ever talk to a friend like this? The answer I’m sure it’s no.
One of the yogic ethic principles in philosophy is Ahimsa, ‘non-violence’. Negative self-talk like that is an act of violence against yourself. Yoga will help you recognise it earlier and slowly turn it down until you can stop it and find a friendlier inner voice.
Yoga is a life long practice and a discipline
If you practice regularly you’ll start noticing changes, in your body, mindset and generally how you conduct yourself. That in turn will help you feel more confident and have a more positive outlook.
At a very basic level, let’s say that for example, you couldn’t touch your toes and after a few weeks, or months you can. You start feeling like you can achieve anything.
Why is that? Dopamine, a neurotransmitter associated with feelings of pleasure, such as the satisfaction someone may feel from achieving a goal. There is a reward system involved in dopamine which helps to incite a positive mood and heighten motivation.
I’d love to hear your thoughts. Can yoga be a useful tool to help build inner confidence and self-esteem? Would you give it a try?
Please leave a comment below or contact me directly if you’d like to know more. If you’d like to start a yoga practice or would like to know more about mindful yoga check out my website for live classes as well as my video library.
Montse has been working for the last 30 years, among other things, mentoring young artists in the world of theatre and performance. Trained as an actress in her native Spain, she has worked professionally all over the world and deeply understands the needs of a performer. As a theatre director, she is very dedicated to her actors and is used to working with drama students helping them get the best out of themselves. Her passion for sharing and her desire to help others realise their true potential has led her onto the path of yoga teaching. A practitioner since 1998, she never saw herself as a yoga teacher, but finally took the leap and couldn’t be happier! Montse first trained in the UK and later on added another 500hr in Rishikesh with Krisha and Sangeeta Shikhwal, working with them on traditional Hatha with elements of Iyengar style alignment and restorative yoga.