Conscious Confidence: Shifting from Anxiety to Calm Power
We can read the best advice, strategy and inspirational quotes about power and confidence but if we’re only in our heads and not in our bodies, we’re accessing just part of our potential. Often, we’re so overwhelmed and distracted by the external stimuli and pressures of our day that we completely forget to be in our body – to notice how we breathe and move. And that can be a stumbling block to being fully in our power.
How you hold yourself and speak will affect how you present yourself to the world. If your body language and voice send an unfocused or weak message, people will, of course, respond differently than if you authentically speak from your center and hold yourself confidently. Their reactions, however subtle, boomerang back reinforcing your mindset (for better or worse).
We humans are like antennas. Whatever signal we send out, affects the kind of signal we receive. As soon as you walk in a room, your energy speaks for you.
Whatever we feel in our mind shows up in our body, voice and energy. Conversely, how we hold ourselves physically influences how we feel emotionally. And that’s the good news. You can make that mind-body feedback loop work for you. Even if you’re feeling anxious, you can call on your inner queen of calm or superwoman by changing how you move and breathe.
[Related: One Minute & 4 Steps to Own Your Power]
That’s because simple shifts in the position of your body and rhythm of your breath change up the flow of blood and oxygen. That, in turn, causes receptors in the brain to trigger the release of hormones which give you the calm, energy, and focus you need. Your brain will start to find solutions, see opportunity rather than problems, and clear out mental clutter.
Want to feel powerful when you walk into a meeting, interview or negotiation? You can do that. But first you need to align yourself physically and eliminate any locked up tension so that you are grounded, steady and relaxed.
When things are at stake, do you speak from high up in your throat or from your center? You can remove anxiety out of your voice by learning how to breathe in a way that brings you into calm confidence.
Here are four simple moves that release stress, free up your breath and get you focused.
Flip Your Mood
How: Standing with your feet hip-width apart, hinge forward lowering your torso while keeping a little bend in your knees. Make a frame around your head by holding each elbow with the opposite hand and let your torso drop. Feel your back ribs expand on the inhales and low belly lift on the exhales. Stay for 30-60 seconds.
Why: When things are going well, your heart rate and breath are naturally slow. You can shift from stressed out into that easy pace by bringing your head below your heart. The arteries will sense too much blood is coming towards it so it slows down your heart rate. In turn, your breathing eases up reducing stress and boosting your mood. As a bonus, this forward bend will also decompress your spine and relax the back muscles so you’re prepared to stand tall with your shoulders back and head high.
Wring out stress and free up your voice
How: Seated on the edge of a chair with knees, toes and hips all facing forward, slowly turn your torso to the right as you exhale bringing your left hand to your right knee and your right hand behind you to a wall, desk, or chair. As you stay in this twist, inhale feel your spine lift up and exhale feel your navel actively squeeze back towards your spine. Stay 5-8 breaths then switch sides.
Why: By wringing out tension and that “pit in my stomach” feeling, this twist unsticks locked up emotion held in your core and helps you breathe easier and speak from your center.
Reverse Slumped Posture
How: Make a frame around your head holding opposite elbows with your hands. Take a deep breath in with your arms moving a little behind your ears then on a deep breath out drop the frame down in front of you. And that’s it! Keep it going. Inhaling arms up and exhaling down 8-10 times.
Why: It counteracts computer hunch so you stand tall rather than caved. Plus, it’s what we call in yoga a “cleansing breath” clearing out some space in your chest and lungs so you have room to breathe fully and access your voice.
Drop Into Your Center
How: Seated with your feet on the floor, close your eyes and place your hands on your belly framing your navel. Feel the rise and fall of your breath. Consciously “belly breathe” while visualizing the outcome you want of whatever situation may be making you anxious.
Why: By breathing down into your abdomen rather than up in the chest, you tap into the lower lobes of the lungs which are rich in nerve endings that activate your relaxation response. And by simultaneously focusing on what you want, your brain sends a signal to the muscles to relax and move in a way that syncs up with your inner strength. Whatever you focus on you feel. And what you feel you project.
Remember, it’s all intertwined. How you move changes how you breathe. How you breathe changes how you feel… which changes how you think. And how you think affects how you move, breathe and feel. Changing one element can change all the others and you have the ability to make it work to your advantage.
Pam Reece is a NYC yoga teacher with over 15 years’ experience teaching some of the city’s busiest and most successful women in all areas from publishing to philanthropy to entrepreneurs. Known for making yoga accessible, she focuses on helping women destress and connect to their inner strength with yoga, meditation and breathing so they are able to have a greater impact in all their pursuits whether it’s work, family, or charity.
Have more questions? Follow up with the expert herself.
Pam Reece is a communications coach and expert on physical and vocal presence for female leaders. As a former commercial casting director and yoga instructor, she uses an integrative approach of physical, psychological, behavioral and presentation tools that empower professional women to communicate with confidence, clarity and connection. Using her extensive experience directing non-actors for national ad campaigns and later as a yoga teacher at New York City’s top studios, she combines the physical intelligence,... Continue Reading
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