Sit down; now lean in…I have something crazy to tell you.
Get this…if you take off all your make-up, pull your hair up into a bun, strip down to the least amount of skin tight clothes possible then take just 2 or three items (mat, towel, water) into a 105 degree room and stand in front of a mirror for a couples hours a week you will really boost your confidence after a few months of regular practice.
Yes, I am not shitting you…it works. I know it sounds crazy…how would showing up in the ‘raw’, no hair done, no make-up, cellulite and love handles hanging out, even baby stretch marks for the whole room to see, make me MORE confident? How would sweating from every gland in my body and creating a puddle of it on the floor help me feel better about myself?
Let’s start by all agreeing what confidence is and what confidence isn’t.
Earlier in life I thought confidence was the ability to enter into any new situation and stamp myself ‘successful’. For example, a friend wants to go rock climbing? My brain would say, “I can be a decent rock climber, no one will laugh at me’. Someone asked me to speak to an audience at work, my brain would say, “you will do a GREAT job and people will applaud’. I thought confidence was linked to being assured of a ‘good’ outcome as judged by others.
As I experienced more and more of life I have realized that confidence has nothing to do with the outcome as judged by others. Confidence is the ability to go into any situation with the calm perspective that I will enjoy it as it unfolds. It is like your best friends saying ‘give it a try and enjoy the journey’. The confidence I have has absolutely nothing to do with how others around me may view my journey. Confidence has nothing to do with someone else saying ‘she/he is good/bad at THAT’.
If confidence only comes from success defined as winning, dominating, ranking higher, having more physical possessions, a perfectly toned body, nicer car, better Facebook photos or IG feed—then perhaps you are confusing confidence with competitiveness or arrogance, or a blur of them both. These are traits of the Ego. The ego loves labeling things –good or bad.
Yoga is a magical process. Somehow limiting the space, clutter, and noise around you helps the mind shift. It is just you, in the RAW. Over time you begin to recognize the chaos of the mind – judgements, fears, anxiety, to-do lists, and ‘I suck” lists, and ‘what-if’ lists and ‘should have-lists’.
Your first dozen classes will be focused on the outcome, on judging the experience as ‘good’ or ‘bad’. With time the shift occurs. You will let go of judgement and begin to feel the pose, feel your feet on the mat, feel your muscles stretch and then out of now-where one day the magic happens….you will feel space and enjoy it. You will turn off the constant record-player of judgement and just BE. What a great gift it is to our soul to just BE. Be present, mindful, content and for a few moments just BE ok with whom we are. It’s like opening the door of that hot room and feeling the rush of cool air.
Here is a quick reference list of realizing confidence on your mat:
1- Be Raw: I show up in yoga with nothing to hide and I have learned that no hair, make-up, little clothing and a non-perfect Hollywood body have nothing to do with who I really ‘am’. I have made yoga-friends and family. Their smile and great energy shine so much brighter than perfectly carved abs or a fancy car.
2- Drop Perfection: My progress in not measured in perfection. Somedays I just need the quiet of the space and some good energy and choose little movement. Somedays the movement of the poses is like a dance. I go to my mat to serve what I need, not to be labeled as ‘good’ or ‘bad’ by others.
3- Kind Words: The dialogue in the room is kind. No benchmarks or expectations are present.
4- Learn to Prioritize Me: The discipline of showing up regularly has taught me about priorities. The busiest days are when I need 60-90 minutes to myself. You will hear this phrase referenced a lot “you need to fill up your own cup before you share it with others’. I am a better ME when I can stop the merry-go-round of crap in my head and remember the stuff that matters.
5- Get to know & appreciate yourself: I am more in-tune with my physical body and learn to recognize how wonderful and unique it is. Did I push myself too hard yesterday? Did my ego get in the way? Why do I care that I have stretch marks? I really appreciate all the awesome things my body allows me to do and experience.
*Written by Colleen Hargis