Boost Your Self-Confidence and Connect to Inner Peace (Part V)

by Solvita Bennett on September 3, 2011

Find the Secret Power of Yoga and Boost Your Self-Esteem.

By John Carrington

“When I practice, I am a Philosopher. When I teach, I am a scientist. When I demonstrate, I am an artist.”

B. K. S. Iyengar

This is Part V following the Part IV from the series “Boost Your Self-Confidence”.

"Today I've invited especially for you my friend the Yoga Expert, my personal Yoga Teacher and one of my great friends John Carrington. … He is going to share Secrets about the Power of Yoga on Your Self-esteem and Confidence. John has more than 15 years of experience in practising Yoga and as a psychotherapist knows the link between body, mind and spirit at a DEEP LEVEL – Enjoy!" Solvita :)

 

Find the Secret Power of Yoga and Boost Your Self-Esteem.

By John Carrington

… Self esteem, or how we think of ourselves, is hugely important to our sense of who we are and how we behave. Life regularly presents us with challenges for us to face and how we cope with these situations can be extremely impactful on our Body and Mind. Sometimes life’s difficulties can lead to feelings of being overwhelmed, or not being able to cope and most people are aware of the level of stress that continued exposure to these thoughts and feelings can bring. Increasingly, people are becoming aware of the physical impact of these types of thoughts, on a very simple level in terms of stress stored in the body, but at a deeper level, of the effects on the immune system.

Our self esteem directly affects how we cope with life’s difficulties, but equally, not being able to cope can change the way we feel about ourselves, our confidence and even how much we trust our own judgment. Some people are able to cope because they have such a strong sense of who they are, or perhaps they have a solid network of support through friends and family.

But when all is said and done, it is our relationship with ourselves that determines how we respond in difficult circumstances. It is often a sad truth that when times get tough, the first person most people seem to neglect is themselves. Being healthy and fit can have a very positive effect on how resilient we are and therefore how well we cope. Most people think of Yoga as a physical art, and the health benefits of Yoga practice are well known. Perhaps, less well known, are the psychological benefits of training.

Yoga has become popularised in the last decade and it’s not surprising with such famous advocates as Madonna, Sting, Sarah Jessica Parker and Jennifer Anniston, to name a few. Back in the late 90’s, it had all the hallmarks of the latest “fitness fad” and classes were moving out of village halls and springing up in health clubs and dedicated “Ashrams.” Interestingly, Yoga’s popularity has continued to spread and it makes you wonder, “What is it that attracts people to Yoga?”

… As a teacher for 8 years, and a practitioner for over 15 years, I have noticed that people try Yoga for a variety of different reasons. But perhaps due to the fact that Yoga has become a regular staple on the gym studio timetable, people are mostly giving it a try for very physical reasons like improving fitness, flexibility and core strength.

Some students are recommended Yoga by their Osteopath or Physiotherapist as a way of improving posture and helping to correct the body’s past trauma due to injury. However, Yoga originated out of the spiritual traditions of Hinduism and Buddhism. The Sanskrit word “Yoga” means “Yoke,” or “Unite,” and practicing Yoga promotes unity by bringing body and mind into balance. With many students finding Yoga through gyms and health centres, there is frequently a heavy emphasis on the physical practice of “Asanas” or poses, whilst the more esoteric practices such as “Pranayama” or breathing exercises have been replaced with “Relaxation” at the end of a class, as a kind of half way house, bridging the gap between Eastern philosophy and Western science.

But you don’t have to go in for the bell chiming, chanting and incense to benefit from the more spiritual aspects of Yoga practice. With all of the focus on the physical benefits of Yoga, are we missing something fundamental in the practice of Yoga?

Actually, no, we are not, in my opinion and I’ll explain why- I believe that although we have experienced an inevitable “Westernising” of a practice that is actually very spiritual, we achieve some of the more “Psychological” benefits almost despite ourselves. Yoga is based on the principal that Mind and Body are inseparably linked and so whether you access the Mind through the physical training, or the Body through the Spiritual, by studying the Vedas, or through the practice of meditation, then one form of practice will necessarily impact on the other.

… Traditionally, many students focus on achieving correct posture in the Asanas in the first weeks and months of practice. As the Body becomes more flexible, so they are able to progress to more difficult positions which become more demanding in terms of balance, alignment, flexibility and strength. Some styles of Yoga teach you early on to focus on breathing in posture, whilst others, such as Iyengar, focus on precise and correct physical alignment in the early days, preferring to add the element of particular forms of breathing later on, once the physical side has been mastered.

As a psychotherapist, I am very aware of how breathing affects our internal state- of- mind. You have probably told a friend to “Take a deep breath,” to help calm them down, or perhaps you have “Counted to ten,” to avoid anger and calm yourself down. But controlling your own state is not just about consciously controlling your breathing, it goes much deeper than that.

Whether your practice involves deliberately concentrating on breathing technique or not, the physical demands of some of the more advanced asanas require controlled breathing and learning to “make the most of every breath.” Continued practiced strengthens the core muscles, like the diaphragm and the intercostals muscles which are all involved in breathing. Yoga practice also teaches you to focus your attention on specific parts of the body and gain control over muscles you don’t often use, as in the spreading of the toes in Tadasana, or mountain pose.

So, through training in the physical aspect of Yoga, students also develop the mental side. At a deeper level, the connectedness you can begin to feel in some poses (such as Padmasana) can give you a grounding and serenity which helps develop the spiritual dimension. By concentrating on your connectedness you can deepen your relationship with your Self. I find it interesting, as a teacher, to see how students progress from becoming more physically flexible, to being mentally more flexible and balanced.

When you gain greater control of your physical Body, then people often find within themselves, a greater congruence and inner alignment which bring with them psychological benefits such as trusting yourself more and therefore building self esteem. If the aim of Yoga is not only to develop an healthy Body, but also to bring unity to Mind and Body, then continued and regular practice nourishes your self- respect and confidence in your ability, especially as you begin to feel your physical progress and notice the benefits.

In conclusion, Yoga teaches us, through a physical metaphor, to have self- control and to learn to trust in our own ability, which ultimately builds self esteem. In the words of B. K. S. Iyengar, a true master of our times, “When I practice, I am a Philosopher. When I teach, I am a scientist. When I demonstrate, I am an artist.” With deepest respect.

Please share your thoughts in the comment section below. I'd love to hear from you! :)

________________________________

John Carrington is a psychotherapist, who practises Yoga for more than 15 years and teaches Yoga for more than 8.

He is a Yoga teacher and practitioner, who knows and shares the true insights about the Power of Yoga on Body, Mind and Spirit.

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{ 70 comments… read them below or add one }

Anastasiya Day September 3, 2011

John, great article! I love yoga – thank you so much for this useful information.

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Solvita Bennett September 4, 2011

Thanks Anastasiya! John will be glad to hear that!

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denny hagel September 3, 2011

Thanks for sharing this Solvita! John Carrington’s article offers so much valuable and interesting information!

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Solvita Bennett September 4, 2011

Hi Denny, I’m pleased that you found it valuable and interesting…the link between mind, body and spirit is the secret key to our inner peace and happiness. Thanks for stopping by!

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Anne (Annie) Berryhill September 3, 2011

Thanks Solvita for sharing John’s article. I have done Yoga a handful of times. It always takes me a while to settle in and get used to the slower pace of it, but I always leave feeling very calm and centered. This is a great article to help people understand what to expect physically and mentally!

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Solvita Bennett September 4, 2011

I see what you mean, I combine many physical activities and the speed is good as well. I like the balance as it helps me with concentration, also flexibility, which keeps me young and supple…Yoga is great in many ways to achieve that, however I also like variation. It is great when we can find what suits us best. Thank you for your comment and see you soon! :)

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Carol Giambri September 3, 2011

Great article Solvita. Just getting myself back to yoga so this article came in the right time. Amazing when you let something go it’s always hard to be back “limber” again. Yoga has so many benefits; thanks for sharing relationship to self control, self confidence and self esteem. I feel I walk taller and straighter when doing the yoga stretches too. Appreciate you sharing your friends with us.

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Solvita Bennett September 4, 2011

Hi Carol, it is amazing to see you! Yes – self-esteem, confidence and self control … when we have that, nothing can stop us from achieving inner peace, happiness and enjoyment of life. Great comment – thanks a lot! :)

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Anastasiya Day September 3, 2011

Also thank you Solvita for letting other people like John to be a guest blogger on your website! Thanks for sharing. :)

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Solvita Bennett September 4, 2011

My pleasure! I feel honored to have John share his great experience and knowledge. His way of shedding light on this subject clears up many misconceptions.

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Wil September 4, 2011

I am convinced that it would be helpful for me to do Yoga more often and concentrate on the breathing. My core and abs need more strength. It sounds like Yoga will help. Here goes…

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Solvita Bennett September 4, 2011

Yes Wil – the breathing is what many people are missing and Yoga teaches you to control the breath and benefit from it. The core strength is what keeps you together – if you know what I mean.

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Claudia Looi September 4, 2011

I’m always fascinated with yoga and never took the time to learn and get involved. Great article by John.

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Solvita Bennett September 4, 2011

Dear Claudia, we have many choices in life…and I haven’t tried many things myself – maybe never will πŸ˜‰ We can pick and choose what suits us best and I like that way! Thanks for stopping by and have a great day!

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Olga Hermans September 4, 2011

Solvita, I am not so much into yoga at all; many people are though. But was interesting to read; great information. Are you into yoga yourself?

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Solvita Bennett September 4, 2011

Yes – I wasn’t into Yoga myself! I did a lot of aerobics, gym and other speedy physical exercises. The turning point was death of one of my closest friends 6 years ago, it was so tragic and I suffered a lot at that time. She was only 35, so when I was grieving I was not able to do any physical exercises listening to a “LOUD” music, it just didn’t work for me. So that was the time when I found escape from my pain in Yoga. Thank you Olga!

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Sue Graber September 4, 2011

Solvita…Enjoyed the article….Thanks for sharing! Yoga is definitely something that I would like to incorporate into my schedule soon!

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Solvita Bennett September 4, 2011

Sue – it is great to see you back!! x … There are so many health benefits in the power of Yoga…it keeps you young, fit, balanced, supple and healthy with a sound mind and at peace with yourself and others!

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Sue Graber September 6, 2011

Really would like to try it some day — can I do it virtually *wink*? I know it’s a good de-stressor!

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Solvita Bennett September 6, 2011

Sue – you are welcome to try it virtually – can’t guaranty the result though πŸ˜‰

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Michele September 4, 2011

Solvita,
Thanks for sharing this article. I have done yoga, I always struggled with the very slow pace. This article was very informative and offer me reasons to visit the yoga studio once again.

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Solvita Bennett September 4, 2011

Thank you! The slow pace is what teaches the control of our mind and body. It is great to see you here Michele!

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Jennifer Bennett September 5, 2011

Great article! I have tried Yoga and it is not the easiest thing to do, but oh how great it felt! Thanks for sharing!

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Solvita Bennett September 6, 2011

I know the feeling Jennifer – it is worth the effort! Thank you!

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Janis Meredith September 7, 2011

My neighbor invited me to come do yoga with her tonight; I just might have to take her up on it!….

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Solvita Bennett September 7, 2011

Well Janis…what could be better! Go for it! πŸ˜‰

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Melissa Erickson September 7, 2011

Great article! Thanks for sharing! I really needed some motivation to get back into yoga.

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Solvita Bennett September 7, 2011

Thanks Mellissa, we need motivation for sure and often it comes from unexpected sources…

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Dr. Daisy Sutherland September 7, 2011

Wow!! This is an incredible article and one that breaks down the meaning of yoga. I love the benefits that yoga has not only on the body and it’s core but the mind. Thanks so much for sharing the true meaning with us all:)

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Solvita Bennett September 7, 2011

It is great to know what it is and especially the benefits, so that people can make their intelligent choices. Great to see you here Dr. Mommy! :)

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Kim Garst September 7, 2011

Self-esteem is HUGE in all aspects of life. LOVE this article!

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Solvita Bennett September 7, 2011

Yes – you are so right! Self-esteem is HUGE! Kim – thanks for stopping by!

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Liz September 7, 2011

I agree ..yourself esteem can make or break you!!!! I set new goals for myself and work hard to accomplish small things to boost mine!!! enjoyed the post!!!

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Solvita Bennett September 7, 2011

Liz – thanks for your comment! :)

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Anthony DePlacido September 7, 2011

Hi Solvita……thank you so much for sharing John’s article…….I have ulcerative colitis and do understand the effects of stress on our body and immune system…..which is why I found this post particularly poignant…..this year I really fell in love with my practice of Yoga……I know it has been a big help to me……thanks again and tell John I loved his article…….Anthony

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Solvita Bennett September 7, 2011

Hi Anthony, thanks for your comment and I’m glad to hear that it gave you more confirmation to what you already are doing. I’ll pass to John your comment and I’m sure he will be glad to hear what you have to say!

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Deborah September 7, 2011

Solvita thank you for this great post from John.

It has been on my heart for so long now to begin yoga, I have had many friends over the years who have practiced yoga on a regular basis but I have yet to read or hear such a clear description of the ‘why’!! I really appreciate the information, perhaps I am just ‘ready’ now :) In any case, this has helped me greatly!

Again, thank you, Deb

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Solvita Bennett September 7, 2011

Deb, It’s great to hear you are just ready now! Thanks a lot for stopping by! :)

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Lisa Birnesser September 7, 2011

Wonderful article! Many people don’t understand what yoga is or the valuable benefits. Thanks for sharing!

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Solvita Bennett September 7, 2011

Yes – Lisa .. there are many valuable benefits! Thank you! :)

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Susan Preston September 7, 2011

I meditate and as well as do isometric exercises, but always wanted to learn yoga…I wonder with having 2 spinal fusions if I could do it. Thanks, Solvita and John for giving us such great information. Have a fabulous day :) I appreciate you both!

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Solvita Bennett September 7, 2011

Hi Susan, I would check with my doctor first and then with the Yoga teacher. In many cases there are poses which are not suitable, however there also can be alternative poses, which you could do. Always check before you do though. Yoga is not easy – I must admit – it probably looks ‘relaxing’ and so we think it’s easy πŸ˜‰ Much appreciation back to you my friend! x

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Cindy Meisch September 7, 2011

Great post and it was so needed as I am trying to find my motavation to be a healthier me!

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Solvita Bennett September 7, 2011

I’m glad to hear that you found what you were looking for! Thank you Cindy for your comment!

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Linda Yarbrough@Media Marketing Strategy September 7, 2011

I love Yoga and understand the mind and body are inseparably linked. But I never thought about Yoga being a boost to self-esteem until now. Of course it is.

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Solvita Bennett September 7, 2011

Of course! πŸ˜‰ thanks Linda and I’m happy to hear that you Love Yoga!

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Nancy Olson September 7, 2011

I have always wanted to try yoga, I just can’t seem to find the time or make the time as it take away from other things that need to be done. Knowing a bit more about it now and the benifits I should take the time from something to do Yoga!

Thanks for the info!

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Solvita Bennett September 7, 2011

Nancy… thanks for stopping by and yes – just try it!

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Anita September 7, 2011

Awesome series….I am just beginning to explore yoga and although I am finding it a bit of a challenge due to my weight gain from eliminating cigarettes..its will get easier :) Thanks for sharing!

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Solvita Bennett September 7, 2011

Good! You will be fine – just listen to your body and don’t push it too hard at the beginning…it will change! Thanks for stopping by Anita!

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Maya RΓΆsch September 7, 2011

Thank you,

I learned a lot. Really amazing.

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Solvita Bennett September 7, 2011

Thank you Maya! It is nice to hear that!

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Alexandra McAllister September 7, 2011

Oh Solvita, this is a wonderful article! Thanks to John for sharing this. I’ve always wanted to do Yoga…I believe it would help me with my balance and cope with stress. Yoga definitely is on my “to do” list.

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Solvita Bennett September 7, 2011

This is great! It will help you, be patient with yourself at start, and it is not competitive – so don’t watch others and think you are better or worse. Our bodies are different and we must listen. With Yoga we can learn a lot about our bodies and yes Yoga will help with balance a lot and connect you to inner peace. Thanks for stopping by!

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Norma Doiron@Social Media | Graphics | Web Design | Health | Wellness | Weight Loss September 7, 2011

Well… have to say that you have certainly peaked my curiosity! I`ve never done yoga but I can see where the benefits lie. Thanks for your post. Definately something I would consider now…
Norma Doiron

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Solvita Bennett September 7, 2011

Hi Norma, you are welcome! I think John will be glad to hear that it peaked your curiosity! Thanks for stopping by!

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Ingrid September 7, 2011

Thanks for sharing. I love high impact workouts, but I will consider yoga after reading this.

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Solvita Bennett September 7, 2011

My pleasure, Ingrid! Thank you!

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Marie September 7, 2011

I’ve had yoga recommended for years and I even finally got a book, but just haven’t gotten started on it yet. I have really enjoyed your articles on yoga and its benefits. Now I just need to re-read them and go find that yoga book.

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Solvita Bennett September 7, 2011

It sounds cool! Go and find that Yoga book Marie! πŸ˜‰ It is great to see you around!

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Elise Adams September 7, 2011

Interesting article. I think this level of yoga is a bit much for me–but fascinating reading! Thanks for sharing!

~Elise

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Solvita Bennett September 7, 2011

Hi Elise, there are different levels and you set up the level for yourself … we all start at the beginners level an then gradually move up, our body dictates. There is no competition – only you with Your-Self. Great to see you! :)

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Jennifer September 8, 2011

Great article, thanks for sharing. I am a huge believer in the psychological benefits of yoga. I have a weekly schedule of yoga classes and I often feel like I would go crazy if someone interfered with me getting my “zen” time in — I rely heavily on it to quiet and right my mind.

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Solvita Bennett September 8, 2011

Dear Jennifer, yes – I need my “zen” time too and wouldn’t change it to anything πŸ˜‰ great approach to life! Thanks for stopping by and I wish you the best “zen” time ever!

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Kelly September 8, 2011

This is such an important topic. Our self-esteem determines everything we will allow ourselves to have in this life – what kind of job, mate, house, career – everything!

I do practice yoga on occasion, and can attest to it’s enormous benefits, but admittedly I’m not as disciplined as I should be to reap the kind of benefits this article is talking about.

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Solvita Bennett September 8, 2011

Kelly, the benefits are noticeable every time you practice Yoga – even if you don’t do it regularly….its to do with the poses and breathing, they just make you feel centered and content.

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Tina Winterlik September 8, 2011

I bought the book Guru in You, and I promised myself and my child we were going to do yoga. The only thing I’ve done was cut out coffee. My breathing techniques have improved from watching some great meditation videos. I really hope to motivate myself to start and do yoga soon. We are starting a new schedule, very busy, and I know it’s all the more reason to start the yoga. Also I really want my child to make this a routine in her life as I know it will so helpful. Thanks for the great article and if you have any tips on how to start and really implement it in our busy lives, especially with a child, I’d appreciate that. Thanks!

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Solvita Bennett September 8, 2011

Hi Tina, wow – you are on the go! It is a great achievement to cut out coffee… it shows that you have a strong Will Power – well done! The best approach is not to do to many changes at once but introduce one by one… as soon as one change becomes habit you can then introduce the next change into your routine. …The biggest pitfall I’ve seen with people is, they want to do too much at once and then fail, because the old routine is so much more comfortable to slide back into…I think you know very well about the New Year’s resolutions – it makes me smile when I suddenly see many new faces joining the gym and after 2 weeks they’ve all gone πŸ˜‰ It is good with children to make it a “fun game”… Good luck to you both with “awakening the Guru within” and thanks for stopping by!

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Katrina Moody September 11, 2011

Self-esteem and I have an ongoing back and forth relationship. I think a lot is to be said for the way we heal from past hurts and its effect on our self esteem … or rather, if we allow it to do so.

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Solvita Bennett September 11, 2011

Yes – it can be hard for most of the people, however there is a way out and we have the ability to manage and considerably improve our self-esteem. It is nice to see you here Katrina!

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