Self-esteem is a complex issue and at some point in our lives, it’s something that all of us will struggle with. For some people, it may be fleeting and linked to an event or moment in their life and it goes away again quite quickly, but for others, it is a much more deeply rooted issue which can affect their everyday life and how they embrace the world around them.
Low self-esteem is too complex to narrow down to single issues but often stems from abuse, neglect, growing up with an illness, disability or a low feeling of self-worth. Very often circumstances such as bullying, events of considered failure, or feeling unable to fit in, because of weight, appearance or personality, could be some of the causes that lead to low self-esteem along with mental health issues such as anxiety and depression.
Low self-esteem generally makes you feel unhappy in yourself and will exacerbate any fears or worries that you have made it harder to live your life and enjoy it. Yoga is a great way to combat low self-esteem can help you reduce negative thoughts, teach you ways to be calm in times of anxiety, and give you techniques that can help you release those negative thoughts about yourself and replace them with positive thoughts of self-acceptance and help you on your way to achieving inner peace.
Here we look at some of the ways that yoga can help with low self-esteem and discuss some of the poses that will help you do this.
Yoga is great for both your body and mind and practicing yoga is a perfect way to help increase your confidence. Yogic breathing, which is a deep breathing technique, can help you be calm and improve your well-being. Rhythmic breathing naturally helps your body relax and reduces nerves, so if you lack confidence in certain social situations you can take a moment to take a few deep breaths and regain balance to help you deal with the situation. When practicing yoga you are also required to create strong poses with your body, and learn physical authority, which can help you feel more confident walking into a room of people or holding your head held high in a difficult situation.
In yoga, there are a variety of safe poses such as Child’s pose and Pigeon pose. They are called safe poses because your body is in a protected position and both poses are generally done quietly and calmly giving you time to concentrate on your breath and connect body and mind. Once you have learned how to do this these poses can be used to help you self-soothe and take a moment to focus on yourself. Once you are able to do this and reach a place of calm it can really help you restore your confidence and take a moment to assess and realise that the situation you were stressed about isn’t as bad as it seems.
Yoga isn’t something that you learn overnight, much the same way as improving your self-esteem isn’t going to happen quickly. At first, yoga can be difficult and achieving some of the poses tricky, that’s why it’s important to build your practice up, starting with the basics and moving on to more complex poses and techniques. As you improve your yoga your confidence will improve too as you will begin to feel successful with each achievement you make. There is a success to be realized every time you practice and these small successes will help boost your confidence and therefore your self-esteem.
One area of self-esteem that particularly affects us all is not feeling good in our own bodies. Due to the rise in celebrity culture and the “beach body” ideal many of us never feel good enough leading to us all having days where we feel too fat, too thin, that our hair isn’t shiny enough, or we don’t have any clothes that suit us. These things although small can begin to add up to huge self-esteem issues especially if they keep occurring day after day.
Yoga is a great way to help you with this by allowing you to feel comfortable in your own skin again because yoga teaches us that we are all different, and we should all be celebrated because of those differences. When you practice yoga it’s all about you, it’s a personal challenge and you start to realise that your body, flaws and all can achieve great things when you put your mind to it.
Quite often when you have low self-esteem it’s tempting to cut yourself off from others or shy away from situations with lots of people. Yoga can help with this, because even though your practice is just you on your yoga mat if you attend a class then you are surrounded by other people who are there to challenge themselves in the same way you are. The yoga community is really supportive and surrounds you with a loving support network that you can rely on to help you when you’re having a bad moment. A community of like-minded people might be just what you need to improve your confidence. Even if you’re not ready to attend a live class there are many online yoga communities you can join to get a feel for the level of support you can receive.
While yoga can’t guarantee a cure for low self-esteem, it is certainly a technique that you can use to improve your self-confidence and boost your self-esteem. Maybe start with something small like a couple of minutes in a safe pose or try 3 minutes of meditation using a confidence to boost affirmation such as “I am enough” or “I can achieve anything I want to” and see what happens. It should also be noted that yoga isn’t a replacement for support from health professionals, and if you think your self-esteem issues are linked to deeper mental health issues then you should see a medical professional who can help you get additional support. Most importantly enjoy the time you spend doing yoga – through that enjoyment, you can boost confidence and hold your head high as you get on with your day.