Exploring Self-Awareness and Building Trust Through Yoga
Inspired by an inversions class I took recently (from the amazing Jolie Manza), I thought the first blog post in this series should focus on an aspect of yoga that is relatively unexplored. Or at least, seriously underrated.
What is the relationship between Yoga and Trust?
There’s a sense of curiosity to notice what the first things are that come to mind when you hear the word ‘trust’. Is it the trust you form in relationships? The trust you have/don’t have for a partner? The trust you have when you park your bike without a lock and hope to God that it’ll still be there when you get back? There are many interpretations of trust, none of which are right or wrong. When it comes to yoga and trust, however, we get to explore an aspect of it that goes unnoticed most of the time. That aspect being the trust that we have in ourselves. The trust we do or don’t have in our own capabilities.
Breaking Trust Down
As with any activity, whether physical or mental, we require a certain amount of belief in ourselves to correctly carry it out. Think of your job; whatever it is that you do on a daily basis. Now imagine yourself not having the confidence or self-belief to correctly carry out a single aspect of it – whether it’s responding to an email without asking for approval first, or simply sharing an article online about a relevant topic. Trust really can be broken down to this level, and when it comes to yoga and trust, it usually gets considered in terms of our physicality.
Not to be confused confused with ‘self-confidence’, trusting our bodies is an unconscious thing that every one of us does, every single day; We don’t have to ASK our bodies to digest the food we eat. We don’t have to consciously convert that food into energy, absorb the nutrients or separate the good molecules from the bad. We don’t even have to consciously tell the body to BREATHE – the reflex action of the lungs and diaphragmatic muscles have this covered for us, too!
We trust that it will do these things, and rarely bat an eyelid at them unless something goes wrong.
When a baby first learns to walk, they gradually learn to trust that the action of standing upright will allow them to then take steps forward. Similarly, the more we practice yoga and trust – the more we engage with and become aware of the muscles and energy required for us to flow through a class, and the easier it gets, our bodies remember and the more trust we cultivate that our body will allow us to make these movements.
Translating this Trust
Initially, that’s all it is: a belief and knowledge that we can “do the poses”. Everything in yoga is a process, so ‘gradually’ is the most suitable word to describe any progress with it – we begin to dig a bit deeper. If you’ve ever done an intensive course, especially a yoga teacher training, you’ll already know that somewhere along the line the trust we cultivate in our physical strength and capabilities through yoga, we begin to become more confident and this translates into our mental and spiritual bodies. We start to trust things such as our own judgement a little bit more. We start to trust that thoughts or emotions we’re having towards certain things, people or situations might be worth exploring a little bit more, as opposed to shrugging them off or ignoring them. We start to become more AWARE of these things, and of the impact they have on our daily lives. Simply put, we start to cultivate a sense of inner TRUST.
So what’s the secret?
You come to a place of awareness of yourself and intuition so that you can trust this inner voice and act upon it as your ultimate truth.
Yoga and Trust
Overall, both yoga and trust really come down to self-awareness. In order to trust ourselves not to react a certain way or engage with certain behaviours in response to external events or situations, we must first become aware of our tendency to do so. The physical awareness that yoga gives us is what most of us associate with the practice – trusting yourself not to fall over in a handstand. Yet it’s in the internal stuff; the tough, mental and deeply-rooted beliefs and awareness where progress and transformational qualities of yoga can truly be observed.
Learning to embrace ourselves for the way we are, the beliefs, tendencies and emotions we have is a huge part of how yoga can help people overcome issues like anxiety, depression, or anything related to self-esteem and confidence. This newfound self-trust usually manifests itself externally as self-confidence. It can be surprising for those accustomed to dealing with a quiet, nervous and introspective person to all of a sudden be presented with a comfortable and confident new version of them in their own skin.
This is the most amazing and transformational aspect of yoga. Developing trust in movement to foster self awareness; cultivating both inner and outer strength, and building confidence where it never existed before.