5 Poses To Help You Recognize Your Strength
by Sarah Ezrin: Odds are you have overcome incredible obstacles—all of which have made you stronger. This sequence is designed to help you celebrate that strength…
How often do we doubt ourselves? How often do we get overwhelmed by life and its many challenges, forgetting all that we have already made it through? How often do we feel out of control, when really, the power to change is in our hands?
You don’t have to feel that way anymore. Because the truth is, if you’ve gotten this far, you can do anything.
You see, you are a survivor. A warrior. There is no one else in this entire world that has been through all of the things that you have experienced. Every challenge you have faced has fortified you, preparing you for whatever lies ahead. Each battle wound can serve as a reminder of just how strong you are.
When you view yourself from a lens of compassion, you’ll feel seen. When you can recognize your own unique experiences and all the obstacles you’ve overcome, you’ll feel strong. And when you have your own back, you’re unstoppable!
Self-love takes courage. It‘s learning to honor and appreciate every single piece of who you are—the good, the bad, the messy. It is about becoming your own biggest cheerleader, coach, and fan. It is about accepting yourself as you are in this moment and yet also having a willingness to grow.
1. Plank Pose
Most people think having a strong core means having a muscular trunk, but yogis know that a strong core also means having a strong sense of self. Energy lies beyond what the eyes can see. For many of us, it is in the physical asana practice where we first start to recognize our own inner energies. Can you think of the first time you were surprised by your power in a posture? Plank is a great place to witness this, as it is accessible and safe for most bodies and therefore a good pose for playing with your edge. Plank also teaches you how to hold your middle—in other words, how to keep your center—as you move your limbs, like when lowering to the floor or returning to Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward-Facing Dog Pose).
2. Utthita Parsvakonasana (Extended Side Angle Pose)
There is a reason teachers like to hold students in standing poses such as Side Angle, although it is not as sadistic as it may seem! Standing poses not only strengthen your legs, they also strengthen your ability to stand for yourself. Longer holds are a great place to witness inner doubts that tend to arise when we are faced with challenge. And more importantly, a great place to learn how to override those reactive uncertainties and to instead practice believing in yourself. For example, when you are asked to hold Extended Side Angle Pose for five more breaths and you witness yourself think, Ugh, I need to come out, this is the perfect opportunity to practice a different inner dialogue. Instead, recognize your strength and respond compassionately by saying quietly, “You got this.”
3. Virabhadrasana 1 (Warrior Pose 1)
Warrior 1 is a particularly good pose to practice recognizing your strength because so many discordant actions happen. If we doubt ourselves, it is easy to feel pulled in those different directions. For example, we are asked to bend our front knee, but we must also pull the front hip back. Or we are asked to wrap the back hip forward, but we must also remember to press the back thigh back. By acknowledging these forces yet continuing to stay connected to our center, Warrior 1 teaches us compassion for ourselves and how to believe in our strength. Lastly, the arms reaching overhead qualifies as a power pose, which is a body position that has been shown to increase confidence.
4. Dolphin Pose
The most courageous thing we can do is open our hearts. Dolphin helps you expand into all four sides of your heart by opening both the shoulders and the upper back. This inversion preparation is also a great place to learn how to get comfortable with a new perspective—seeing yourself through a different lens takes practice. Going upside down literally turns your world upside down, and it helps you get more comfortable with this new way of viewing the world and yourself. Dolphin helps build physical strength via the support of the upper arms and shoulders and creates flexibility as you seek to carve out space in your upper back. This translates to also building mental strength and flexibility.
5. Salabhasana (Locust Pose)
Belly-backbends, such as Locust Pose, are a great place to learn to have your own back. In this group of postures, we move against gravity, which helps to strengthen the backside of the body, literally fortifying your ability support yourself. Salabhasana also teaches us faith and perseverance. The key to finding space and calm in Locust Pose is not to strain against gravity and burn yourself out within the first few breaths (like forcing through life out of fear). Instead, settle into the breath and work with it. Every inhale helps to create a lift, however most exhales will then pull you back down. This is a real-time lesson in trusting in the process and, most importantly, your own strength.