"Feel the fear, and do it anyway." - Susan Jeffers
Sometimes fear actually works in our favor and motivates us, however, most of the time things that scare us are based on nothing more than a story of thoughts. However, we have the ability to ignore, quiet, and overcome any fears if we're brave enough to and yoga can help.
Sometimes fearful, made up stories of the future can hold us back from experiencing some of the magic that life has to offer. We have to be brave and get out of our comfort zones to take chances, have new experiences and greater satisfaction. It can be easier to stay and feel stuck and safe, instead of choosing to be brave though. For most, the familiar is more comfortable than the unknown, and it's preferable to stay within the boundaries of what you know, instead of diving into unknown possibilities.
While there are no guarantees, some examples of being brave that could pay off are: leaving a stagnant or dysfunctional relationship and feeling liberated and happy afterward in your single life, or in a more harmonious relationship. Taking a chance and moving to a new city or country because you've always wanted to experience life outside of your hometown at least once. Overcoming your fear to come out of the closet and live as your authentic and fabulous gay self, instead of pretending to be someone you're not. Quitting a dead-end job and starting your own lucrative business doing work you love successfully. Being brave enough to finally speak up and let someone know that thing they always do or say actually bothers you, and never having to deal with it again.
You get the idea. While there are never any guarantees, often when fear beats bravery, the liberation, joy and relief that result from your courage to make changes, are so much better than staying scared in unsatisfying, but familiar circumstances. Usually, when we're able to be brave, the previous fears that held us back seem ridiculous in retrospect as well.
Fortunately, being brave is not an inherent trait that some are born with and some are not. It's something that can be practiced and we can get better at. It's a choice and a skill that can be strengthened.
To become braver, it's important to do things that make you feel courageous. There are different activities for everyone that invoke these feelings, and for many, yoga can strengthen this bravery muscle.
While many physical benefits are well documented, you might be wondering how yoga can make us braver?
Here's 6 reasons why yoga helps you become braver!
1. You went to your first yoga class once
It might seem second nature now, but walking into a yoga studio for the first time takes courage. It's a reason that some people never try yoga.
It's easy to feel self-conscious and like an outsider the first time going to a class, with no idea what the normal etiquette in a studio is, what to do, or how to practice the poses. Over time, the fear disappears, and the benefits of yoga win out and get to be experienced.
Imagine never getting to enjoy the array of benefits yoga brings, because you chose to stay scared of walking through the door?
2. Some of the poses are naturally brave shapes
Think of Warrior 2 for example. There is nothing about the human body in that shape that says, "I'm scared." The warrior poses are common and obvious examples of expansive and brave postures. The energy of a warrior, is confident, centered, and strong and you embody that when you put your body into such a shape.
The body and mind are connected, and the idea in yoga, is that putting your body into symbolically brave shapes, also makes your mind more brave. We get good at what we practice, and if you practice being courageous on your mat, you'll gradually start to feel more courageous in the world.
3. You meet your perceived limitations (and move through and past them)
Achieving a big posture in yoga, is great and all, but why? Being able to stand on your hands, or put your leg behind your head, does not make you a happy, successful, or brave person.
However, putting your body into a position that at one point you probably felt would never be possible, has mental and emotional benefits that, surpass the physical benefits of the poses, in teaching you to move past limits in your mind. Doing a yoga pose you once thought was impossible, keeps you in the energy of believing that anything is possible. When we are in the headspace of 'anything is possible', it's much easier to take chances, believe in yourself, and be brave.
Take handstand, or wheel pose as examples. These poses, believe it or not, are attainable with consistency and practice (and a sense of humor helps too). For someone who once saw these poses and thought 'no way I'll ever be able to do this', getting there one day can make other perceived obstacles in life feel smaller and attainable.
4. More Confident Body Posture
When you're scared, the body gets small physically and your body language closes. When you feel brave and steady, you hold yourself in a different way. If your body has been in patterns of being tense and maintaining poor posture, yoga helps us to become open, grounded, and strong.
The body and mind are connected and when you practice yoga you open your body, release stress, and get stronger both physically and mentally.
5. Calmness is confidence
Yoga helps us chill out when we need to. It's easier to be courageous when we have a sense of steadiness and are better able to stay in the present moment instead of giving into any scary stories of what could go wrong.
If you get stuck worrying about the future, and that's what holds you back, the calmness a yoga practice can bring, can help you find your center when things feel scary. Certain yoga poses also activate Manipura chakra, the confidence energy center in the body.
6. Yoga makes you leave your comfort zone
Growth often happens outside of the comfort zone. Yoga poses, also physically put your body outside of your comfort zone. When you get comfortable in exploring uncomfortable shapes on your mat, you can start to feel more comfortable putting yourself in situations outside less familiar situations in life. Of course, this doesn't mean you put yourself in situations that are harmful, but the ones you've desired and may have felt too scared or small to experience.
Wherever you are on your journey, feel gratitude for where you're at. If you know there's more you desire, but feel scared to try, be brave and go for it.
By Keith Allen
Practice these classes with Keith and another yoga teacher Kristin Gibowicz teachers, to feel braver right now!
25-Minute Full Body Yoga with Keith Allen: FREE CLASS
Courageous Flow with Kristin Gibowicz
Humble Warrior Flow with Keith Allen
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