When you think about your self-esteem — how you feel about yourself at any given moment — where in the body is it located?
Well, in my head, you might say, because after all, that’s where you think. But in the yogic tradition, it’s not in your head. It’s in your other brain — your gut.
The area in the body that corresponds with your self-worth is the Solar Plexus Chakra, or Manipura in Sanskrit. Physically, trace a line up both sides of your ribs to where they meet, then descend straight down to hover an inch or so above your belly button.
This is the part of the body that gets vilified for being too fat or gets ignored when we choose not to go with our gut feeling. Our breathing affects this area tremendously. If we breathe shallow from our lungs, Manipura remains unmoved and unnoticed. Like a tepid pond overgrown with algae, we lose sight of our depths.
To come back to your personal power and confidence, it’s necessary to stir your waters. Begin, simply, with these three mantras to boost your self-esteem.
1. I am worth it.
Self-worth determines the quality of anything you create, say, do or don’t do. It ebbs and flows as we’re young, and (hopefully) steadily increases as we grow older and less concerned about our worth in the eyes of others.
A simple test to find out if you’re standing in your personal power is examining how you react to compliments. Do you say, “Thank you” or some deflecting variation of “You don’t have to say that…”?
Feeling worth it doesn’t mean that you have to be 100% certain of yourself and your decisions, but rather that you’re 100% certain you have a right to make them.
If you’re crippled by fear of rejection or feel uneasy about yourself, this is the mantra to open your Solar Plexus Chakra.
Begin by repeating this mantra during your daily meditation, focusing your inner awareness on your chakra and visualizing yourself bathed in sunny warmth. But to break free of worthlessness, you need to do more than affirm and visualize. You need to act, and that’s where step two comes in.
2. I can do it.
Chances are, you’ve self-selected out of exploring certain jobs, classes, hobbies and interests because of how you felt in the present. When you’re stuck in self-deprecation, it’s easy to opt out of anything you think you can’t do. Me, circa 2002: I’m going to major in writing because I’m bad at math.
The thing is, it’s the beliefs we have about ourselves that hold us back more than one tough math class.
When what you want to do and can do match up, but you’re not acting on the “can” part, it’s time to get on the yoga mat to prove it to yourself. Pick a challenging pose like Bound Extended Side Angle and practice safely until it’s possible.
The goal here is not your picture perfect pose, but a willingness to explore the process of how to get there. It’s in the process that the “can do” is made possible.
3. I am confident.
When it comes time to take your “can do” habit off the mat, however, you’ll need more patience than you had with your physical body. That’s because others usually are involved in your journey to feel good about yourself.
Rather than steel yourself against the reactions of others, practice letting go. When you are truly confident in yourself, you need not explain, argue or make yourself heard through words. Others will see and feel it in your actions.
That doesn’t mean becoming a pushover, however. So, answer yourself these:
- When do you absolutely need to defend yourself?
- In what situations must you speak up?
Find your baseline for how far you’ll go and go no further. When you give up the need to be right or convincing, you’ll diffuse most uneasy situations before they ever get started.
Confidence is not “I don’t care what other people think so I’m going to do and say whatever the heck I want.”
It’s “I know who I am and I am enough.”
Yoga helps us uncouple who others think we are with who we really are. When we’re open in our Solar Plexus, we’re like a bright sunny day that doesn’t dim, even when the clouds roll in.
Try it: Bound Extended Side Angle Pose, Baddha Utthita Parsvakonasana
- From the top of your mat step your right leg back into Warrior II Pose. (Instructions on Warrior II here.) Create a firm foundation, anchoring down through both feet and drawing energy up to your Solar Plexus Chakra. As you continue the pose, keep your focus on bringing your attention back to this center.
- Extend your upper body toward the front thigh, lowering your left shoulder to the inside of your left knee. Reach your left arm underneath the thigh and take your right arm behind your back. Clasp the left wrist, or hold onto a strap or small towel if your arms don’t quite reach yet.
- Inhale and lengthen through the crown of your head. Exhale and draw your right shoulder back to elongate your spine and stack the shoulders. If you have long arms, like me, or tight shoulders, your top elbow might be bent a whole lot.
- Stay for six deep breaths, right into your Solar Plexus Chakra. Keep your gaze forward to avoid tweaking the neck. If you experience tingling or crunching of the shoulders, be sure to use a strap or towel and bend your elbows generously.
- Release the grip of your hands, unwind your arms and rise back into Warrior II. Step forward into Mountain Pose at the top of your mat and take a deep letting go breath before practicing on the other side.