The practice of yoga yields both physical and mental benefits for any practitioner—no matter what their level. The body experiences increased flexibility, muscle strength, and endurance while the mind calms and clears, according to an article published by Harvard Medical School. Best of all, yoga helps to create a mind and body connection through poses that empower you to feel your best from the inside out.
Here, six members share their favorite pose and how it gives them the confidence to roll out their mats.
Laura’s favorite: Aerial bow pose
Laura appreciates the physical and mental challenge of Aerial yoga, an activity that she’s embraced since going "beyond the scale." Yoga gives her the opportunity to work out both mind and body, while connecting to her spirit.
When thinking about yoga, the quote, “Confidence is the best accessory,” speaks volumes because her practice gives her confidence beyond measure. “I see that I am capable of more than I would have given myself credit for in the past.”
One of her favorite poses is the Aerial Bow Pose because it makes her feel powerful. “I have to trust myself which makes me fearless,” Laura says.
Liesl’s favorite: Headstand
While stopped for a roadside lunch in the Himalayas, a fellow traveler who was a yoga instructor, began teaching the group how to do headstands. Although Liesl was self-conscious about drawing attention to herself, she joined in and attempted her very first headstand.
“I don’t really remember if I was able to hold the position for very long, or at all, but, looking back, just trying headstand for the first time made me feel like practicing yoga was within my reach, regardless of what Instagram or Pinterest said about the “ideal” yoga body,” she says.
Since then, her practice as well as her weight have fluctuated. “I have practiced yoga at my heaviest and at my lightest, and I can say that one of the biggest misconceptions I see out there is that there is only one body for yoga. That simply isn’t true.”
Throughout her practice the headstand has always been her favorite pose because it never ceases to amaze her. “Headstand reminds me that I am capable of more than anything society tells me somebody “my size” is capable of. It is a reminder that I am, and always will be, strong, balanced, and willing to see the world from a different perspective.”
Linda’s favorite: Tree pose
“I feel confident in Tree Pose. It helps me find balance in everyday life,” says Linda, who has been practicing yoga since 2012. She practices yoga just about anywhere: on the beach, in a garden, in a mountain lodge and at yoga retreats.
Nancy’s favorite: Warrior II
“I love yoga because it challenges me and relaxes me at the same time,” says Nancy, who has learned that her body is capable of more than she knows.
She loves that yoga helps her to build muscle by using her own body weight while also improving her posture, balance and core strength.
“You never master yoga; you just continue to practice. Just like you never master tracking, you are always learning by doing.”
Quinn’s favorite: Wild thing
The poses that make Quinn feel most confident are the ones that take practice to accomplish.
“When you’ve been practicing for so long and your body just flows into the right pose, it’s kind of like when you lose those stubborn pounds. It just feels empowering, like you can do anything,” she says.
She enjoys just hanging upside down in the pose Wild Thing. “The best part of my week is when I can turn off my phone, only focus on me and improving my body.”
For Quinn, yoga is like an extension of her Wellness Workshops. The lessons she learns each week, which include positive self-talk, the importance of meditation and me time, help to further her practice and stay focused on her goal.
Quinn loves to see how her body is changing through yoga, especially how toned she’s become. “I mean I know I’ve always been beautiful, but damn, I’m looking fine!”
Rosalee’s favorite: Standing bow pulling pose
“Yoga has taught me to love myself by embracing my true most authentic self,” says Rosalee, who practices Bikram yoga—a type of yoga that involves practicing in a room between 95 to 108 degrees Fahrenheit. She says it gives her a confidence that extends beyond the mat and has transformed her physically, emotionally and spiritually.
Being able to hold her favorite pose, the Standing Bow Pulling Pose, teaches her that the key to strength is persistence, and flexibility can be achieved through patience, thought and understanding.
“The more I practice this balancing pose, the easier it becomes and it shows me that I am capable of continuous growth and change. That in itself boosts my self-esteem and confidence, and sends a positive message to my head and heart.”