You’ve woken up today with your stomach in knots. Perhaps you’ve got a very important meeting to attend and you’re feeling apprehensive. Maybe you’re going to be giving a speech in front of a huge crowd of people and being in the limelight has never been something you’re fond of. Whatever the reason, you’re running low on confidence. You don’t have heaps of time, but you do have about 30 minutes to spare and you’re wishing there was something you could do to give you that extra bit of confidence.
You may have noticed that when you’re low on confidence there’s a sense that something inside is shrinking. There’s a feeling of contraction. And when you’re confident, happy and energised, it feels as though something inside you is expanding, combined with a sense of lightness and ease.
Whatever you do to your body affects your mind, so when you practise yoga, the movements combined with yogic breathing techniques automatically induce that sense of expansion and the by-product of that is a natural and easy confidence. Keep in mind the words of Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: “With yoga comes confidence that never withers away, a smile that never wanes and the inner strength to endure any situation.”
On a physical level, practising yoga poses helps improve your posture. A person with good posture exudes more confidence than someone who’s slouched. The better your posture, the more alert you feel. And not only do you look more confident, but you actually feel more confident.
Here’s a 30-minute yoga routine designed to boost your confidence. It includes pranayama (breathing technique), asanas (yoga poses) and meditation or relaxation. And it comes without any of the negative side-effects of other less supportive choices. It’s free from the impact that extra strong cup of coffee will have on your nervous system and it comes without any of the toxins and tiredness that follow the initial buzz of something slightly stronger.
Before you begin
It doesn’t matter whether you’ve done yoga before or not, just make sure you don’t push yourself too far in the poses. If you’re not comfortable, you’ve pushed too far, so back out of the pose until you are. And while you’re doing them, keep your breath long, slow and smooth and your eyes gently closed. Breathing this way will help you let go of any anxiety that tends to come with low confidence, and keeping your eyes closed will enhance the benefits of this routine by helping quiet your mind, bringing that mental clarity and inner stillness.
You may have noticed that when you’re anxious your breathing pattern changes — it becomes shallower and more constricted. The pattern of your breath automatically changes with whatever emotion or mental state you’re experiencing. When you’re at ease, your breathing pattern will automatically also be easier, longer and smoother. When we imitate this way of breathing it induces a state of confidence, which is one of the reasons why ujjayi breathing is so beneficial.
How to do ujjayi breathing
Ujjayi means “victorious”. Through the practice of ujjayi breathing you gain victory over your mind. What that means is that the mind becomes a more beautiful place to be and you don’t have to be victim to a noisy, disturbed mind.
In his Yoga Sutras, Patanjali suggests that the breath should be both dirga (long) and suksma (smooth). Practise ujjayi breathing with your eyes closed, sitting in a comfortable position. Without much effort, gently constrict the muscles at the back of your throat and take long, smooth breaths in and out. This constriction in your throat will create some resistance to the passage of air and will make a soothing sound similar to that of a baby snoring or the sound of the ocean.