The Benefits of Yoga on Health and Self Confidence
Yoga has completely transformed my life and the lives of countless others. If you had told me a year ago that yoga would become my new obsession, I would have looked at you like you were crazy. As an Emergency Medicine Doctor, my mind was continually going a hundred miles a minute and the thought of yoga and slowing down seemed so foreign to me.
My Struggle With Imposter Syndrome
I was suffering greatly from imposter syndrome, and I was starting to develop back pain and lose track of my body. Imposter syndrome is when you reach a certain level of success and believe that you do not deserve it and doubt that you genuinely had the skills to achieve it. It stems from a deep-rooted fear that you are not enough and is a signal of low self-confidence. And like many women today I had put myself last as I was running full speed ahead toward my goals.
Until my body gave me a rude awakening and I was having difficulty moving in very basic positions.
I knew that I needed something different and so I stopped all my high-intensity interval training and height training and turned to my yoga mat. The results that followed were nothing short of amazing.
Within one week my back starting feeling better. Now I was able to bend forward without wincing in pain. I also noticed that my energy became more calm and positive. What I love most about yoga is that it is indeed a practice that is fully dependent of you. Research shows that a consistent yoga practice can vastly improve your mental and physical health, boosting areas like your happiness, stress-levels, self-esteem and confidence.
Your body will tell you the areas that you need to work on. You will see which muscles are weak and which are strong. You will be able to strengthen and condition your entire body on your mat. And for someone who has been using equipment for years, the simplicity of just needing your body and a mat was pretty amazing.
So what did yoga teach me?
1. Focus on your breath.
I was surprised by how much I was not breathing deeply in my daily life. I was too busy filling up my plate with things that were not a priority, keeping myself “busy” but not productive that I was not even allowing myself a moment to fully breath. Stopping for a moment and focusing on the breath allows you to drop into the present moment. It allows you to connect with a life force that keeps you alive daily without you ever having to remind it to do its job. It distracts you from the noise of life and helps you connect with yourself. Breath work is powerful, and it’s a great tool to help you think and navigate through the ups and downs of life.
2. Everything you need is within.
In yoga, you have lots of time to reflect, and if you have a fantastic teacher, they will prompt you with mantras and things to consider throughout your practice. By taking this time for myself, I was finally able to work through some limiting beliefs. I was able to connect more with the true version of myself within that was separate from the negative-Nancy in my head. I was able to tap into my inner strength, knowledge and power. If you never are intentional to quiet your mind, then it’s going to be difficult to hear your authentic voice.
3. Be willing to push yourself out of your comfort zone.
In yoga, to keep advancing, you must force yourself beyond your inner limitations. It never gets easier, but you get stronger. I know for me, even though I am still a beginner Yogi, I am always trying every day to push myself a little more in my practice and in the positions. Watching my body react with increased strength and balance to my consistent efforts has shown me what I am capable of and has improved my self-image and self-confidence that I can achieve whatever I put my mind to.
4. Our body is holding onto years of prior stress.
In yoga, we learn that we hold onto a lot of previous stress in our hips and within the deep connective tissue of our body. Well, when I came to yoga I barely had any hip mobility - it was difficult for me to squat and bend forward. So when I started finally stretching out these areas, I would suddenly find myself crying or laughing in class.
It was such a safe space to RELEASE, and I understood that there was some significant healing happening in my body. It truly opened up my eyes to the fact that lack of forgiveness and holding onto grudges is very toxic and leads to built-up stress in our bodies that we may not realize is there. By releasing past hurt and practicing forgiveness during my yoga practice, I have found more peace in my life which has increased my overall mood.
5. Movement brings emotion.
Most people do not get enough movement in their day. Many people are sitting at home, in the car, and at work and wondering why they feel so down and have no energy. During yoga, I found that certain poses were invigorating and increased my strength and put me in a positive mood. It made me realize that I am in control of my energy and that whatever I put out is what I get back in return. Since starting yoga I’ve been more intentional with making time every day to move my body and especially when I’m feeling my energy dip in the day, I get up and have an impromptu dance party or yoga flow to boost my state of being.
Yoga has brought more healing than I could have ever imagined. As someone who works a stressful job in the emergency room and who is also an entrepreneur, it honestly has been a saving grace for me. My emotional health has improved, and I find that my mood is even more positive and calm than ever before.
Learning to connect more to my body and taking time to be mindful of the present moment through yoga has given me an opportunity to spend more time with myself which has only helped me to appreciate more the woman I am today. So if you have been thinking about trying yoga, I would encourage you not to hesitate anymore and sign up for a local or online class.
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