One of the common misconceptions about practicing yoga postures is that your body already has to be flexible.
This is as false as the idea that in order to become a confident, successful person, you had to have been born that way — as if those among us who are well-known, or financially successful, or incredibly happy just happened to have been favored with different genes.
Finding flexibility and self-confidence share something in common: They are both a practice.
There is hope in practice — in realizing that you are not doomed by your genes, your circumstance or the choices you’ve made until now. Practice is ownership, and when you take ownership, your whole life changes.
This, coming from a girl who started yoga not being able to touch her toes. Who resigned herself at adolescence to live an unhappy, depressed lifetime. Who chased ambitions and relationships and a career that all burned her out.
Now, a girl who, through yoga, can touch her toes and then some. Who no longer identifies with depression. Who is betrothed to a wonderful, kind man who loves her despite these things. (I cannot emphasize enough how miraculous this last one feels.)
It turns out, dreams do come true with patience and practice and showing up.
You may not have been born with self-confidence. But you can practice until it becomes second nature. Until you’ll wonder what life was like without it. Like riding a bike for the first time, or learning how to read or write, you can practice anything to get a more desirable result.
The way you feel about yourself works the same way. Nearly every waking hour you practice different thoughts in your mind. Putting different limitations on yourself, or maybe having them imposed on you.
But your birthright, deep down, stirs from time-to-time, letting you know there has got to be another way to feel. Another way to be.
This is what a yoga and meditation practice will surface for you, if you let it. It shines inner light on your true beingness — the things you actively and passively let into your mind, which then instruct you on how to live. This third-party perspective on yourself is crucial if you desire a life free from worry, anxiety, perfectionism, control… you name it.
Yoga shifts you from autopilot mind to compassionate, discerning mind. Next time, try pausing before reacting, it prompts us after an argument. Do you really need to have XYZ in order to be happy? it says when we look in the mirror.
At first, these may appear as tiny, unnoticeable shifts in your mind, but like a snowball can trip an avalanche, big momentum leads to big changes. I’m living proof.
When it comes to achieving your big dreams and ambitions, the trouble is not that you don’t have what it takes to change your mindset — it’s that you need to develop a practice.
That’s why I’m here. Over the next week, we’re going to take a deep dive into what it takes to live free from worry and be confident about your next steps — no matter what they may be.
For that, we must first turn to trust.
Practice: Reclined Cow-Face Pose, Supta Gomukhasana
As you well know, yoga is not about bending oneself into pretzel-like positions and taking selfies. (Ahem.) But yoga postures can release deep-seated emotions and patterns that are holding us back from feeling our best.
Here is one of my favorite hip openers that feels oh-so-good and does a proper job of opening the outer edge of your glutes that rarely gets a release in any other yoga pose — not to mention letting go of that pent-up tension and tightness you’ve stored over the years.
- Lie on your back and draw both knees into your chest. Cross your right knee over your left knee, dangling your feet and legs out to your sides off the ground.
- Flex your feet, then reach up to capture your ankles or soles. If your upper body moved off the mat, release it back down.
- Squeeze your knees together. Guide your feet toward you as you gently press your knees away. This may take some adjusting to find the stretch in your outer right hip. If you do not feel it, move your knees a few inches to your left. Stay for six deep breaths.
- Gently release and unwind your legs. Cross your left knee over the right, repeat from step 3 to practice the posture on the other side.