Get full access to Outside Learn, our online education hub featuring in-depth yoga, fitness, & nutrition courses, when you sign up for Outside+.
Stick with challenging poses to build muscle strength and confidence.
Iyengar teacher Patricia Walden thinks that two key actions help students cultivate confidence: repeating poses and holding them for long periods of time. Some poses might be difficult to hold. But you can repeat them in order to build tenacity. Aim to hold these poses, especially the three Virabhadrasanas (Warrior Poses), for 20 seconds or as long as you can to ignite your willpower. Over time, increase your hold times to build endurance. “Muscular action is the most direct expression of willpower in our body. These poses engage muscular action and strength. From that you develop confidence,” says Walden, who adds that introspection is part of the process.
When you want to come out of a pose, see if you can stay with the discomfort a few more seconds. There are psychological benefits to challenging yourself to do something you’ve never done before. “It took me a year to do Handstand. When I finally was able to balance on my hands, it was transformative,” says Walden. “Working through difficulty requires tapas [discipline], and you feel your power. Doing something when your mind or body says it doesn’t want to—that’s empowering.”
Meditate: Sit quietly for 10 minutes. Chant Om if you like.
Stretch: Take Balasana (Child’s Pose) to lengthen your spine. Move into Uttanasana (Standing Forward Bend) to get your entire body ready to start an intense, active sequence. Sequence by Patricia Walden.
Fold: Take Child’s Pose again to relax your spinal muscles and counterbalance the backbends you’ve done.
Rest: Appreciate all your hard work and recognize what you’ve accomplished in this practice as you relax in
Savasana (Corpse Pose).