Posture and Confidence: a Valentine’s Day special

Many elements contribute to a bad or good posture. We can read that bad posture is generally caused by a sedentary lifestyle, an injury, our occupation or genes. But we don’t often come across the correlation between bad posture and our emotional world. In this blog, I address the connection between posture and confidence, between the way we hold ourselves and our emotions. Fear and a lack of self-esteem can make the front of the body contract. Because our self-esteem colours the relationships we find ourselves in, this Valentine’s Day blog gives you a nourishing practice to boost both good posture and confidence.

When we are afraid or lack self-esteem, there are two physical responses. One is to puff the chest up and pretend. The other is to round the shoulders, as if to protect the chest and the heart. Both will have effects on our bones and postural alignment, and both strain the back muscles. A slumping posture will also have negative effects on breathing and digestion, as I explained in this blog: https://beneyoga.co.uk/yoga-for-better-posture-rounded-upper-back/.

Increasingly, even Western medicine is acknowledging a correlation between our emotional, mental and physiological reality. The correlation is not simplistic or straightforward, and I’ve never liked ‘airy-fairy’ explanations. But I do know that when we are grieving, or when we feel emotionally hurt, it can be that our physical heart actually aches. I also know that placing your hands on your heart has a soothing effect. To a yogi it makes sense, as the physical heart is also the heart chakra, the energetic centre for love and self-love. I won’t go into theories of how energy works in the body. Suffice to say that energy can be blocked in some areas, or it can flow. Part of yoga therapy is helping the energy flow harmoniously.

Posture and confidence

Both posture and confidence can take a long time to grow. While being confident is natural for some, it takes others years to boost their self-esteem. I am in the latter category, and I know it takes awareness and the right practices to nourish a greater self-belief. Different yoga practices can help. On a physical level, they can strengthen the back and encourage it to be upright, with the chest open and feet firmly planted. On an emotional level, it takes a lot of breathing and reflection to nurture the emotional heart. If you would like to explore how yoga therapy could help you with these various aspects, do contact me here: https://beneyoga.co.uk/book-a-free-consultation-call/.

The two practices below can help you nurture the heart centre. Self-care and self-love are the foundation of happy relationships, so I hope you enjoy these.

Breathe into the heart space

-Sit in a supportive position, possibly on a chair or against a wall if your back easily tires.

-Place both hands on your heart, or one on your heart and the other on your abdomen.

-Take a few moments to simply observe the rhythm of your breath and what you feel.

-If emotions and thoughts come up, acknowledge them and return your attention to the breath.

-Now breathe more deeply into this space, feel both your chest and abdomen expand when you breathe in, and both rest down when you breathe out. Continue for 5 to 7 deep breaths. How does this expansive breathing make you feel?

-Return to normal breathing. Love and enjoy the beautiful rhythm of your breath.

Restorative rest position to open the chest

This position expands the chest and stretches the front of the shoulders. A bolster can be too much to start with. It can also be easier on the back to start with a smaller support such as a rolled blanket or pillow. This position is sometimes taught with the pelvis off the bolster. Personally, I don’t like this for the lower back, as the difference in height between bolster and mat makes the lower back arch, too much for most people. If you use a thinner support such as a pillow, placing the pelvis just off the pillow can feel nice.

-Place a bolster and pillow, or a long, rolled blanket on a carpet or yoga mat. As you can see on the picture below, you can also use a smaller cushion for the head.

-Lie back on the pillow, bolster or blanket. Make sure the back and head feel supported and comfortable.

-The arms rest out to the side with palms up, possibly on a support if the shoulders don’t like the stretch.

-The legs can either be together or with the soles of the feet together and knees to the side.

-Only stay in this position if you are fully comfortable, for up to 10 minutes.

-Breathe a few times more deeply in the abdomen and chest. Then breathe naturally.

-How does this position make you feel? Breathe and observe.

-If your heart needs a lot of comfort and cannot feel so open at the moment, rest forward on a bolster instead. Enjoy the soothing touch of the chest on the bolster and breathe. If you can’t kneel, you can also sit on a chair near a table. Place a big pillow on the table and lean forward. Enjoy!

To read more about yoga and confidence, check out this blog: https://beneyoga.co.uk/yoga-for-confidence/.

And as always, if you would like to work with me, in person or via Zoom, do contact me here: https://beneyoga.co.uk/book-a-free-consultation-call/.

Namaste

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