We associate leadership with confidence and regularly assume that someone in a leadership position is also a confident person by nature. But this isn’t always the case.
Leaders often find themselves in situations where they must make difficult choices. Sometimes it’s not clear which option, if any, is the correct one. It’s hard to deliver bad news or impart unwelcome orders. But those decisions must be made, and instructions cascaded effectively.
Being in that position requires confidence yet simultaneously rattles it. Thus, leaders may actually project a strong image while being in great need of a confidence boost. And the practice of yoga can help address that.
Sources of confidence
Confidence can be derived from many sources. There are passive factors that can improve or detract from a person’s confidence. Appearances and body image fall into this category. So does personal history, including your past relationships and experiences.
We can actively take steps to improve our confidence, as well. Proper oral hygiene and a whitening toothpaste bundle can make you feel great about something as simple as a smile. Making an effort to dress smart and groom well has similar effects. Regular physical exercise gives your body better conditioning, strength, and vitality.
The power of yoga to improve confidence is similar to the benefits of working out. After all, yoga is a specific form of exercise. But what really sets it apart is the nature of the practice itself.
A difference in practice
People most often work out to achieve an objective. It could be hitting a specific number of reps, running a set distance or time, or lifting a certain weight. Or it may be related to their body fat or muscle tone. Maybe they want to meet the recommended activity level of 30 minutes per day.
With most forms of exercise, the objective becomes inseparable from the workout. But the practice of yoga is different. There are no timers, intervals, set counts, or other forms of measurement.
It emphasizes becoming attuned to your body, listening to its limits, and trying to explore and enjoy how you can move. The only goal, such as there is, would be achieving greater mindfulness and balance.
Posing for self-esteem
Leaders might be familiar with a different type of pose to improve confidence. The so-called ‘power poses’ are a well-known life hack that theoretically makes you feel more confident by emulating a physical posture associated with power.
Yet studies have actually compared the practice of yoga to the effects of power poses on confidence. And the psychological benefits of yoga came out on top.
This research further suggests that adopting a physical posture to strengthen confidence has little to do with associations of interpersonal dominance, which power poses rely on. Instead, it’s more closely related to boosting self-esteem. And performing yoga poses, or asanas, for as little as 2 minutes can yield measurable improvements in that area.
Asanas to get you started
Which asanas should you begin to incorporate into your daily sequence to achieve a confidence boost?
Different yogis will have their own recommendations. But a common starting point is one of the easiest asanas of all: balasana, or child’s pose. This is intended to relax the body and help it surrender to gravity. It’s ideal for anyone who’s just getting started and needs to limber up before moving on to other poses.
From the child’s pose, you can move on to the downward-facing dog. This pose is especially good for counteracting the effects of prolonged sitting. It also transitions naturally into the low and high lunges, and from there, you can move into the classic confidence-boosting asana: warrior pose.
However, keep in mind that there are many other asanas you can learn and practice. All of them invoke different muscle groups into action, many of which don’t really get used that often during your typical day at work.
Yoga sequences are meant to be fluid and constantly changing. Listening to your body, you can allow yourself the freedom to vary. And in doing so, you expand your range of motion and overall physical capabilities. By extension, this will make you feel more confident in your abilities in general, including leadership.
In truth, we’re all leaders in some way. There are people in our communities, families, and social circles who look towards us in certain situations. Yoga has many other benefits, but if only for the confidence it can give us when we’re thrust into leadership roles, it’s well worth practicing.