By Dr. Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500, YACEP
How to develop self-esteem through Yoga may be obvious to a practitioner, but it has been the subject of research for many years. Many times, Yoga teachers refer to the inner self or the observer from within. In a Yoga training session, you may be instructed to observe without judgment, but how can we stop judging? We judge things all day long. If you drive a car, you are judging timing, distance, and speed. In this case, judging is a matter of life and death, which concerns you, other drivers, and pedestrians. You have to judge, whether you like it or not, but you are told not to judge yourself in a Yoga class or during a meditation session.
Who do we judge the most harshly in the course of a typical day? For most of us, self-criticism takes up a large part of the day. We call ourselves uncomplimentary names. We do not forgive ourselves for past mistakes. We forget that we learn from mistakes and we create a negative self-image. So how does the Yogi or Yogini get in touch with the inner being? This is a journey toward spiritual clarity, where any person can travel. Look at yourself and observe the two sides of your inner being. You can use a mirror, but I would suggest you use a piece of paper and a pen. To develop self-esteem through Yoga will require time and many methods of self-analysis.
During Yoga teacher training sessions, I have found that compiling lists allow interns to be impartial. We can classify our traits and qualities as negative or positive, but the big picture is not always so clear, because some negative qualities may bring about positive results. The opposite can also be said. Some people may talk too much, but talking has put them in a prestigious position.
Other people do not speak up enough, but they have always played it safe, and have no worries. There is a bit of risk involved in the journey to develop self-esteem through Yoga, because there is a clear goal. As you know, the ability to gain a of positive self-image is possible, but it requires time and effort. Many times, Yoga teachers refer to the inner self or the observer from within. Our actions and our life journey may require us to take action in an instant.
Karma is not always clear to see. Which trait or path is right, and which is wrong, is not always crystal clear, but when you design your list, you may want to have three categories. These categories are positive, neutral, and negative. Neutral allows for a gray area, because life is not simply black and white. It may look that way to a child, but as a child learns more, each issue takes on more gray area.
To develop self-esteem through Yoga will happen over the long haul or we can pursue it directly. When you classify your personal traits and qualities, you can see what you lack, and you can praise yourself for what you already have. It is most important to see what you have and appreciate it, before going after what you do not have. Much energy is spent on acquiring things, but we should devote some of our energy toward appreciating what we have.
When you decide to make positive changes, you may want to focus on one change at a time. Most people cannot learn to appreciate themselves overnight, but you can be thankful for your good qualities and then go after a vital trait to build your self-image. Yoga teaches us to listen from within and to appreciate what we have right now.
Side Notes for Yoga Instructors
When training Yoga teachers, exercises in self-appreciation have consistently developed stronger instructors. To develop self-esteem through yoga, we must understand this is not a cheerleading session, but an honest analysis of where each of us is at this moment. Anyone can take some time to appreciate one’s self and to appreciate family, friends, loved ones, health and sanity. Life is too short not to appreciate what we have.
© Copyright – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division
To see our selection of Yoga instructor courses and continuing education courses for specialized Yoga certification, please visit the following link.
Click here to see our online Yoga Nidra teacher training course.
Are you an experienced teacher looking for YACEP credits or continuing education?
52 Essential Principles of Yoga Philosophy to Deepen your Practice
by Rina Jakubowicz
A Relaxing Way to De-stress, Re-energize, and Find Balance
by: Gail Boorstein Grossman
by B.K.S. Iyengar
By Mark Stephens
Birkel, D. A., and Edgren, L. (2000). Hatha yoga: improved vital capacity of college students. Altern. Ther. Health Med. 6, 55–63.
Bower, J. E., Woolery, A., Sternlieb, B., and Garet, D. (2005). Yoga for cancer patients and survivors. Cancer Control 12:165.
Briñol, P., Petty, R. E., and Wagner, B. (2009). Body posture effects on self-evaluation: a self-validation approach. Eur. J. Soc. Psychol. 39, 1053–1064. doi: 10.1002/ejsp.607
Carney, D. R., Cuddy, A. J. C., and Yap, A. J. (2015). Review and summary of research on the embodied effects of expansive (vs. contractive) nonverbal displays. Psychol. Sci. 26, 657–663. doi: 10.1177/0956797614566855
Carney, D. R., Hall, J. A., and LeBeau, L. S. (2005). Beliefs about the nonverbal expression of social power. J. Nonverbal Behav. 29, 105–123. doi: 10.1007/s10919-005-2743-z
Cramer, H., Lauche, R., Langhorst, J., and Dobos, G. (2013b). Yoga for depression: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Depress. Anxiety 30, 1068–1083. doi: 10.1002/da.22166
Deshpande, S., Nagendra, H. R., and Nagarathna, R. (2009). A randomized control trial of the effect of yoga on Gunas (personality) and Self esteem in normal healthy volunteers. Int. J. Yoga 2, 13–21. doi: 10.4103/0973-6131.43287
Diener, E., and Biswas-Diener, R. (2005). “Psychological empowerment and subjective well-being,” in Measuring Empowerment: Cross-disciplinary Perspectives, D. Narayan, (Washington, DC: World Bank), 125–140.
Diener, E., and Diener, M. (2009). “Cross-cultural correlates of life satisfaction and self-esteem,” in Culture and Well-being ed. E. Diener (Dordrecht: Springer), 71–91.
Garrison, K., Tang, D., and Schmeichel, B. (2016). Embodying power: a preregistered replication and extension of the power pose effect. Soc. Psychol. Personal. Sci. 7, 1–8. doi: 10.1177/1948550616652209
Granath, J., Ingvarsson, S., von Thiele, U., and Lundberg, U. (2006). Stress management: a randomized study of cognitive behavioural therapy and yoga. Cognit. Behav. Ther. 35, 3–10. doi: 10.1080/16506070500401292
Hayes, A. F. (2013). Introduction to Mediation, Moderation, and Conditional Process Analysis: A Regression-based Approach. New York City, NY: Guilford Press.
Heatherton, T. F., and Polivy, J. (1991). Development and validation of a scale for measuring state self-esteem. J. Pers. Soc. Psychol. 60, 895–910. doi: 10.1037/0022-35220.127.116.115
Impett, E. A., Daubenmier, J. J., and Hirschman, A. L. (2006). Minding the body: yoga, embodiment, and well-being. Sex. Res. Social Policy 3, 39–48. doi: 10.1525/srsp.2006.3.4.39
Kirkwood, G., Rampes, H., Tuffrey, V., Richardson, J., and Pilkington, K. (2005). Yoga for anxiety: a systematic review of the research evidence. Br. J. Sports Med. 39, 884–891. doi: 10.1136/bjsm.2005.018069
Kleinsmith, A., De Silva, P. R., and Bianchi-Berthouze, N. (2006). Cross-cultural differences in recognizing affect from body posture. Interact. Comp. 18, 1371–1389. doi: 10.1016/j.intcom.2006.04.003
Kok, B. E., Coffey, K. A., Cohn, M. A., Catalino, L. I., Vacharkulksemsuk, T., Algoe, S. B., et al. (2013). How positive emotions build physical health perceived positive social connections account for the upward spiral between positive emotions and vagal tone. Psychol. Sci. 24, 1123–1132. doi: 10.1177/0956797612470827
Lecomte, T., Cyr, M., Lesage, A. D., Wilde, J., Leclerc, C., and Ricard, N. (1999). Efficacy of a self-esteem module in the empowerment of individuals with schizophrenia. J. Nerv. Ment. Dis. 187, 406–413. doi: 10.1097/00005053-199907000-00003
Lyubomirsky, S., Tkach, C., and DiMatteo, M. R. (2006). What are the differences between happiness and self-esteem. Soc. Indic. Res. 78, 363–404. doi: 10.1007/s11205-005-0213-y
Martens, A., Greenberg, J., and Allen, J. J. (2008). Self-esteem and autonomic physiology: parallels between self-esteem and cardiac vagal tone as buffers of threat. Pers. Soc. Psychol. Rev. 12, 370–389. doi: 10.1177/1088868308323224
Meier, B. P., Schnall, S., Schwarz, N., and Bargh, J. A. (2012). Embodiment in social psychology. Topics Cogn. Sci. 4, 705–716. doi: 10.1111/j.1756-8765.2012.01212.x
Ojha, R. (2013). Role of yoga and meditation in the empowerment of women; an ethical perspective. IOSR J. Eng. 3, 1–5. doi: 10.9790/3021-03410105
Oken, B. S., Zajdel, D., Kishiyama, S., Flegal, K., Dehen, C., Haas, M., et al. (2006). Randomized, controlled, six-month trial of yoga in healthy seniors: effects on cognition and quality of life. Altern. Ther. Health Med. 12, 40–47.
Rosenberg, M. (1965). Society and the Adolescent Self-image. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. doi: 10.1515/9781400876136
Ross, A., and Thomas, S. (2010). The health benefits of yoga and exercise: a review of comparison studies. J. Altern. Complement. Med. 16, 3–12. doi: 10.1089/acm.2009.0044
Sengupta, P. (2012). Health impacts of yoga and pranayama: a state-of-the-art review. Int. J. Prevent. Med. 3, 444–458.
Sethi, J. K., Nagendra, H. R., and Ganpat, T. S. (2013). Yoga improves attention and self-esteem in underprivileged girl student. J. Educ. Health Promot. 2:55. doi: 10.4103/2277-9531.119043.
Swann, W. B. Jr., Chang-Schneider, C., and McClarty, K. (2007). Do people’s self-views matter? Self-concept and self-esteem in everyday life. Am. Psychol. 62, 84–94. doi: 10.1037/0003-066X.62.2.84
Wilhelm, F. H., Grossman, P., and Coyle, M. A. (2004). Improving estimation of cardiac vagal tone during spontaneous breathing using a paced breathing calibration. Biomed. Sci. Instrum. 40, 317–324.
Woodyard, C. (2011). Exploring the therapeutic effects of yoga and its ability to increase quality of life. Int. J. Yoga 4, 49–54. doi: 10.4103/0973-6131.85485
See our testimonials to find out what our graduates have to say about teaching therapeutic yoga sessions and our selection of online yoga teacher training intensive courses. To see our complete selection of affordable yoga instructor certification programs, please click on the courses and products button in the navigation bar in the upper left section of this page.