WISE member and yoga instructor Meredith McCurdy demonstrating Warrior II pose.
We know that body language can communicate messages to others, but it can also send messages to ourselves, signals that may affect our self-confidence. In yogic tradition, there are poses, or asanas, that are believed to positively affect self-confidence.
Yoga philosophy suggests that our physical and mental systems are influenced by chakras, or energy centers, within the body. The third chakra, the manipura, located between the sternum and the belly button, is the personal power center. Physically, it contributes to digestion; mentally and emotionally, it is the core of our identity — strength, self-esteem, intuition and willpower. If this chakra is out of balance, we may feel overconfident and critical of others, or experience more self-doubt and an inability to stand up for ourselves.
The following yoga poses are believed to help balance the manipura. Engage each posture for at least five deep breaths in and out of the nose. And as you practice these poses, explore whatever you’re comfortable with, physically, mentally or spiritually.
Warrior II (Virabhadrasana II)
Engages the core to ensure proper alignment
Stand with feet together. Step your left foot back, parallel to the back of the mat. Right foot points forward. Create a wide stance, opening your body to the left. Align the heel of your right foot with the arch of your back/left foot. Bend into the front/right leg at a 90-degree angle. Hips and shoulders are open to the left side, core is engaged, and the tailbone is tucked. Raise the arms to a “T,” relax the shoulders and gaze out over your front middle finger. Make sure your right knee maintains alignment over your ankle. Repeat on other side.
Revolved Side Angle (Parivrtta Parsvakonasana)
Stand with feet hip-distance apart. Step your left leg back into a high lunge. Front/right leg is at a 90-degree angle, knee over ankle, hips facing forward, left heel lifted. Inhale, raise arms above head and exhale, bringing palms together at your heart. For the basic level, drop your left knee to the mat, toes flat.
Or remain in the high lunge. Inhale and lift the crown of the head toward the sky. Exhale and twist to your right, placing your left elbow outside your right knee and beginning to shift your gaze toward your right shoulder. To deepen, inhale, lengthen through the spine and exhale, increasing the twist by working the left armpit to the outside of the right knee. If your knee is on the mat, perhaps try to extend the back leg. Repeat on other side.
Lengthens the abdomen and spine
Lie flat on your stomach with legs hip-distance apart. Open your hands wide and bring them to the mat next to your shoulders. Inhale and lengthen through the spine; lift your chest like a cobra and push hips, legs and feet into the mat. Use palms for stability rather than pushing and keep shoulders down and elbows in. Gaze forward or slightly up.
Lengthens the abdomen and spine
Lie on your stomach with legs together. Flex your feet, bend your knees and bring your heels toward your glutes. Lift the chest slightly and reach one arm back at a time, palm facing in, and grab the outside of each ankle. Squeeze your glutes, push the pelvis into the mat, and inhale and lift the chest, pushing your ankles into your hands. Gaze forward. Release gently on an exhale.
Builds core strength
Sit with legs outstretched. Use your hands to lift and move the gluteal muscles out from your seat so your sit bones (the bony part of your lower pelvis/bum) can have more contact with the mat. Bend your knees and place feet flat on the mat.
Level 1: Engage the core, squeeze knees together and lift the bent legs, trying to bring the shins parallel to the mat while engaging the core and lengthening the spine. You should be on the sit bones, not rolling back onto the glutes. Bring arms straight out, reaching toward the shins; shoulders are relaxed and spine is long.
Level 2: Staying on the sit bones, extend the legs. Arms remain parallel to the ground.
About Meredith McCurdy
Following a gap-year travel adventure in 2016, Meredith McCurdy is a freelance sports and entertainment marketer, yoga instructor and global wanderer. Previously, McCurdy managed Visa’s FIFA, entertainment and culinary partnerships. Prior to that, she was a sponsorship consultant at IMG (now Endeavor) and GMR Marketing. McCurdy earned an MBA from the University of Oregon, building on her previous experience in active lifestyle marketing. She is now exploring the social responsibility and social enterprise sectors.