Having negative thoughts about your self-worth is more commonly referred to as low self-esteem. This complex issue is something that all of us will, unfortunately, experience at some point in our lives, whether that’s for a brief moment related to a particular life event, or for others as a more deep-rooted issue ultimately affecting their everyday lives and how they embrace the world around them.
The beliefs we have about ourselves appear to be factual but, in reality, they are merely just opinions, often formed in early childhood, which often makes the thoughts biased and incorrect as those opinions are formed through the perspective of a child. It’s a complicated issue to narrow down, but can often stem from abuse, neglect, failing to meet parental or peer group standards or being the odd one out. Although developing these beliefs in childhood is often the case, sometimes experiences in later life can also be the cause; work place bullying, abusive relationships or traumatic events could all end up being possible triggers.
Low self-esteem can leave you feeling unhappy in yourself and makes it hard to enjoy life in a way you feel others around you are. Yoga is an excellent way to combat low self-esteem, teaching you ways to remain calm in times of anxiety, help to reduce negative thoughts and provide you with the techniques to replace them with positive thoughts of self-acceptance.
Below, we look at the different ways yoga can help with low self-esteem, and discuss some of the poses that will help you on your way to achieving inner peace.
Practicing yoga is great for both the body and mind and can be a perfect step to increasing your confidence. A deep breathing technique known as Yogic breathing, can encourage the body to stay calm, and improve your overall well-being. Rhythmic breathing is a natural way to help the body to relax in moments of fear or anxiety, so taking a couple of deep breaths when faced with a stressful situation, can help you to regain balance and leave you feeling more in-control. Yoga requires you to create strong poses with your body, as well as learning physical authority which can naturally help you feel more confident in yourself.
In yoga, there are poses known as “safe” poses. They are performed calmly and quietly, meaning that you have time to concentrate on your breathing and connect with your body and mind. Examples of such poses are Child’s Pose and Pigeon Pose, which are performed with the body in a protected position which can leave you feeling safe and secure. Learning how to do these poses can aid you in self-soothing, and taking a moment to focus on yourself. Once you can do this, it can be used as a tactic to combat moments of stress, by taking some time to calm down and assess the situation realistically and work to achieve the most logical outcome.
Much like improving your self-esteem, learning yoga isn’t something that can be achieved overnight. Like with any new skill it can seem difficult at first and can leave you feeling disheartened if you don’t feel able to achieve poses to your desired standard. It is important to make sure you stick with it and keep practicing the basic poses until you feel you are ready to work your way up to the more complex sequences. Celebrating small successes is something of definite importance as you will begin to see that there is an achievement to be realized every time you practice, boosting your confidence and therefore, in turn, your self-esteem.
Not feeling good in our own bodies is an area of self-esteem that affects us all. The media bombards both men and women with manipulated images of “beach bodies” that realistically, are not able to be achieved by anyone, even the models themselves. Trying to build up self-esteem is hard in a world where we are being told we aren’t good enough by advertising campaigns and magazines, resulting in us all having days where we feel we are too fat, too thin or we just aren’t pretty enough. Although small, things like this begin to add up to cause massive self-esteem issues.
Yoga can be a real help to start feeling comfortable in your own skin, as it teaches you that everybody is different, and those differences should be celebrated. Turning up to a class surrounded by men and women of all different ages, shapes, and sizes show us that in reality, nobody looks the way that people are portrayed in the media. Yoga is about taking time for yourself and connecting with your mind; with each success, you realize what great things you can achieve if you put your mind to it.
When experiencing times of low self-esteem, it’s a common feeling to want to cut yourself off from the world and shy away from certain situations. Yoga can be an excellent way to begin to combat this feeling because although the session is about focusing on yourself, you are surrounded by a whole class of other like-minded people, who are there trying to meet their personal goals just as you are. Building up friendships like this provides you with a loving network of support to fall back on in times of struggle.
Although yoga isn’t a magic cure for low self-esteem, it can certainly provide you with techniques to help build your self-confidence, which will, in turn, help self-esteem. Putting on a pair of comfy yoga pants and a tank top then starting with basic poses can be a great place to begin and see what happens. It is important to remember that while yoga can act as a helpful tool when dealing with low self-esteem, it isn’t a replacement for the support of health professionals. If you suspect your issues are related to a more deep-rooted cause, seeking the help of a medical professional will give you additional support. The most important thing to remember is that yoga is there to be enjoyed and practicing it should leave you feeling happy and confident in your abilities.