Ep 024: Build Self-esteem With These Ayurvedic Practices
In this week’s episode, I share some uncommon but oh-so-powerful advice and Ayurvedic practices that you can use to build self-esteem.
This topic comes directly from our community. In a recent survey, I asked, “What (if any) internal obstacles are holding you back from creating the change that you want to see in the world?” A number of you mentioned low self-esteem, so let’s talk about it!
Below is a brief outline of this week’s episode, “024: Build Self-esteem With These Ayurvedic Practices.” Please tune in to the Happy Me Happy Earth podcast wherever you get your podcasts to hear the full discussion.
Photo by Matthew Hamilton on Unsplash
Ayurveda and Self-esteem
Through my study of Ayurveda and by embodying Ayurvedic practices I’ve been able to heal my low self-esteem and become a much more confident person. I’m excited to share some of these practices so that you too can build self-esteem.
According to Ayurvedic wisdom, each of us is a unique combination of the five elements – fire, water, earth, ether, and air. Because the balance of elements within you is different than the balance of elements within me, what works for me may not work for you. Therefore comparing ourselves to others or trying to follow someone else’s path simply does not work.
Building self-awareness and learning tools that help us to become more self-aware is a much more empowering use of our time and brain power. This is why I so often share self-reflection questions on the podcast. By getting to know yourself better you can begin to release comparisons, build self-esteem, and begin to create the life that YOU want.
Are your relationships contributing to your low self-esteem?
Around the same time, people started gossiping more about others, talking badly about people behind their backs, and using self-deprecating language.
I quickly realized that it wasn’t cool to be confident and that I needed to mimic this body language and talk to relate to my friends and fit in.
We often get a confidence boost by relating to others even when our talk is negative because we feel like we belong. This is totally understandable and doesn’t make us bad people. We, humans, are herd animals, so belonging is crucial to our survival.
However, this judgmental talk, whether focused outward or inward, has a major effect on our self-esteem. If the people around you are talking about others behind their backs, what’s to stop them from bad-mouthing you?
If you tend to judge others then there is a good chance that you’re also judging yourself. This thought pattern doesn’t go just one way.
Healthy Relationships = Higher Self-esteem
Ask yourself, “Do I feel like I need to be insecure or self-deprecating to fit in? In what ways am I not living according to my values in order to fit into my social group?”
Self-esteem Building Thoughts
As I alluded to before, the thoughts that you think about yourself will either build your self-esteem or damage your confidence. I’ve talked about this on the podcast a few times, so I won’t go into it here. Check out these related episodes:
- Ep 3: What is the Changemaker Mindset?
- Ep 4: How to build the Changemaker Mindset
- Ep 10: Five Self-confidence Building Questions
Today I’m focusing on the physical approach to building self-esteem.
Body Language can Build Self-esteem
You’re probably picturing someone who is standing up straight with their shoulders back, head held high, and feet pointed directly at the person they’re talking to. Someone with high self-esteem faces conversations and their life head-on.
This mental picture is very different than the hunched-over teenager with low self-esteem that I described earlier!
All of our feelings, including confidence, have certain body language and movement patterns associated with them. The mind influences the body, and the body influences the mind. Simply taking a more confident feeling stance can nudge the brain toward feeling more confident.
Yoga is a great way to practice this. Certain yoga postures such asTadasana (mountain pose), Virabhadrasana (warrior one and two), Vrikshasana (tree pose with arms extended upward), and Surya Namaskar (sun salutations) can build self-esteem within us.
Consider this an invasion to experiment with your body. What patterns of movement help you to feel more confident?
Healthy Mamsa Dhatu = High Self-esteem
According to Ayurvedic wisdom, there are seven bodily tissues. These are called the Dhatus. Dhatu is a Sanskrit word, and Sanskrit is the ancient language of India in which the Ayurvedic texts were written.
In order to maintain our health and vitality we want all seven of these tissues to be balanced and healthy, but the Dhatu that most directly relates to our self-esteem and confidence is the Mamsa Dhatu. In English, we call this our muscle tissue.
Our muscles allow us to move, act, and create coordinated and skilled actions. Along with the bones, our muscles support our structure and protect our delicate internal organs. They’re also responsible for the movement of our bodily fluids including sweat, lymph, blood, and excrement. Healthy Mamsa Dhatu provides energy, power, strength, and stamina.
Benefits of Healthy Mamsa Dhatu
Our muscles also help us to express our emotions through facial expressions and body language. I often talk about how important movement is to emotional processing and this is why. Unresolved emotions and stress hormones accumulate in the neuromuscular junctions. Through the expansion and contraction of our muscles, we are able to express and process emotion.
Consequences of Unhealthy Mamsa Dhatu
“The person with weak Mamsa Dhatu feels like he carries the burned of the world on his shoulders.” – Dr. Vasant Lad
According to Ayurveda, a person with healthy Mamsa Dhatu takes courageous action. They are influential. They take up space!
As you can see, this is super important for us changemakers! We are constantly called to take uncomfortable, courageous action that challenges the status quo. So focusing on the health of our muscle tissue is incredibly important.
How to Build Self-esteem and Healthy Mamsa Dhatu
I’ll state the obvious first, we can build muscle with weight-bearing exercise. This can be bodyweight exercise or lifting weights, but we want to be sure to not limit ourselves to repetitive movements like a set lifting routine. And cardio, while great for managing stress, can lead to the depletion of your muscles if overdone.
Ideally, we want to move our bodies in different and novel ways throughout the day. By doing this we strengthen, flex, stretch, and release different muscle groups.
On the podcast, I share some examples of how I incorporate novel movement into my days. Activities such as hiking, rock climbing, and yoga are some of my favorite ways to keep my muscles healthy and therefore build self-esteem. And nothing boosts my self-confidence more than jumping on a surfboard and catching a wave!
Other Practices to Build Self-esteem
It’s important to note that learning how to fully relax our muscles is just as important as strengthening them. Oftentimes we are holding onto tension without even realizing it. According to Dr. Vasant Lad,
“When a muscle is rigid, the flow of awareness is blocked.” – Dr. Vasant Lad
In order to release this rigidity and therefore improve the health of our muscles we can practice meditation. Bring your awareness to your muscles by doing a body scan. As you scan each muscle group such as the face, chest, stomach, arms, legs, etc, take note of any tension and then release it.
Self-massage is another great way to help your muscles release residual tension.
Building Your Self-esteem Takes Practice
It’s okay if these practices feel awkward and uncomfortable at first. In fact, that’s a sign that you’re doing something right! Keep practicing and eventually, you’ll feel the benefits and increase your self-esteem.
Download the FREE Self-care for Changemakers guide to learn how to be an agent of change without sacrificing your health!
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Featured image: Photo by Matthew Hamilton on Unsplash