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10 Reasons Why Yoga Lovers Are More Likely To Be Successful

10 Reasons Why Yoga Lovers Are More Likely To Be Successful

Yoga’s ever increasing popularity, as a form of exercise, is a testament to the millions enjoying the health and fitness benefits of this ancient yet relevant practice. Right from sports players to leading business owners to celebrities, some of the most successful people in the world are yoga fans.

But yoga is not merely about contorting your body into mind-boggling poses. It’s a practice that strengthens not just the body but also the mind. A growing number of business organizations are recognizing this impact of yoga and meditation as a means to create more motivated, efficient and productive employees and consequently a healthy bottom line.

Yoga is a way of life that becomes a part of a yoga enthusiast’s experience with benefits that extend way beyond the mat. So what sets them apart?

1. They are focused

Today more than ever, in a world of increasing information overload, we need focus to achieve success. Yoga teaches single pointed focus which over time, enables you to enhance your memory, clarity, brainpower, and concentration.

2. They are energetic

As you reach for your fifth cup of coffee to keep you going at work, give a thought to trying yoga instead to boost your energy levels. Yoga practitioners are very active in their daily lives.

Yoga helps to unblock stagnant energy within the body and brings flexibility and alertness, combating that post-lunch dip with productivity.

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3. They are patient and kind

Practice yoga with patience and patience is what you get back. Yoga is not a quick fix. It takes time and effort to perfect a posture, making you avoid injury and learn patience.

Breathing exercises and meditation practices give rise to inner well-being and a sense of inclusiveness and hence, compassion.

4. They handle stress better

Yogis don’t get stressed easily. Recent research has shown that yoga can help reduce and better manage anxiety, stress, depression and panic attacks. Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT), a highly successful and effective psychological therapy developed by distinguished psychologists in the UK, is based on yoga and meditation.

MBCT is recommended by NICE (the National Institue of Health and Care Excellence) to prevent relapses in chronic recurring depression.

Yoga is a calming practice that brings physical and mental relaxation by activating the parasympathetic nervous system. Yogis sleep well at night. No wonder they have such a healthy glow!

5. They are healthy and fall ill less often

Yoga is a low-impact exercise that is recommended for many chronic ailments such as high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, osteoarthritis and even better, menstrual health. Yoga helps you achieve a healthy weight by regulating hormones and metabolism.

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A 2013 Harvard study showed that yoga, as a form of exercise and meditation, has positive health benefits all the way down to the genetic level. It can positively impact not just stress related diseases but also immune functions.

6. They are self-confident

Regular yoga exercises make your body lithe and supple, enhancing your body image and self-confidence. Almost any yoga pose can be made deeper and more challenging.

As you overcome fear and are able to go further, you respect your body more. Yoga builds mind control and inner strength, making you stress resistant and leading to a higher self-esteem.

7. They are productive

A healthy employee is an efficient employee. Reduced stress and anxiety and other mental and physical health benefits naturally bring an increase in your competence and effectiveness with lesser days off work on account of sickness.

Mark Bertolini, CEO of Aetna, the third-largest health insurer in the United States, has made yoga available to all his employees in America. In 2010, Aetna partnered with Duke University’s School of Medicine and found that regular yoga substantially decreased stress levels and health care costs.

Google’s Chief Evangelist of Brand Marketing, Gopi Kallayil, endorses yoga’s positive impact on productivity. He believes that in the fast paced environment of companies like Google, yoga helps balance one’s body and mind and impacts productivity and culture positively.

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He even started a program called Yoglers, where he personally teaches yoga to Googlers. The program has been very successful with Google offices across the globe adopting it.

8. They are present and mindful

Have you zoned out in meetings, not recollecting what someone said? Have you eaten your lunch at your desk on autopilot, without enjoying your meal? Maybe give mindfulness a try. Leading American companies, from General Mills, Target, Apple and Nike to Procter & Gamble, are embracing yoga, mindfulness, and meditation.

Mindfulness teaches us how to pay attention to the present moment. It makes us more conscious of our inner world of thoughts, feelings, emotions and body from the perspective of understanding ourselves better and hence controlling our response so that we act and not react to situations.

Meditation practices in yoga teach you to live and experience each moment to the fullest. Over time, yogis live with a deep sense of inner peace and fulfillment.

9. They are positive

Yogis acknowledge feeling happy and calm after a yoga session. Many will tell you the days they do yoga are better and everything seems to flow smoothly. Sara Lazar, assistant professor of psychology at Harvard University, has led a series of studies at Massachusetts General Hospital, that prove that meditation impacts the way our brains are wired and affects areas of the brain associated with stress and well-being.

The studies have found that the positive effects of yoga and meditation are not just limited to relaxation after a session but are remarkably longer lasting.

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Yoga aims to create a balance in the body and mind making you centered and less likely to feel disturbed. Additionally, yoga encourages an attitude of gratitude that helps you recognize the brighter side of life.

10. They are self-aware

Yoga lovers tend to have a balanced perspective of life. Yoga practices of mindfulness, meditation, breathing exercises aim at making you more aware and conscious of yourself while the physical exercises make you really understand your limits.

Learning what you can or cannot do, leads to accepting yourself without judgment. As you learn to hold stress and other mental agitations at bay, it opens up a new possibility of knowing your true self.

Featured photo credit: By Julia Caesar via download.unsplash.com

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Last Updated on January 15, 2021

7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

The popular idiomatic saying that “actions speak louder than words” has been around for centuries, but even to this day, most people struggle with at least one area of nonverbal communication. Consequently, many of us aspire to have more confident body language but don’t have the knowledge and tools necessary to change what are largely unconscious behaviors.

Given that others’ perceptions of our competence and confidence are predominantly influenced by what we do with our faces and bodies, it’s important to develop greater self-awareness and consciously practice better posture, stance, eye contact, facial expressions, hand movements, and other aspects of body language.

Posture

First things first: how is your posture? Let’s start with a quick self-assessment of your body.

  • Are your shoulders slumped over or rolled back in an upright posture?
  • When you stand up, do you evenly distribute your weight or lean excessively to one side?
  • Does your natural stance place your feet relatively shoulder-width apart or are your feet and legs close together in a closed-off position?
  • When you sit, does your lower back protrude out in a slumped position or maintain a straight, spine-friendly posture in your seat?

All of these are important considerations to make when evaluating and improving your posture and stance, which will lead to more confident body language over time. If you routinely struggle with maintaining good posture, consider buying a posture trainer/corrector, consulting a chiropractor or physical therapist, stretching daily, and strengthening both your core and back muscles.

Facial Expressions

Are you prone to any of the following in personal or professional settings?

  • Bruxism (tight, clenched jaw or grinding teeth)
  • Frowning and/or furrowing brows
  • Avoiding direct eye contact and/or staring at the ground

If you answered “yes” to any of these, then let’s start by examining various ways in which you can project confident body language through your facial expressions.

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1. Understand How Others Perceive Your Facial Expressions

A December 2020 study by UC Berkeley and Google researchers utilized a deep neural network to analyze facial expressions in six million YouTube clips representing people from over 140 countries. The study found that, despite socio-cultural differences, people around the world tended to use about 70% of the same facial expressions in response to different emotional stimuli and situations.[1]

The study’s researchers also published a fascinating interactive map to demonstrate how their machine learning technology assessed various facial expressions and determined subtle differences in emotional responses.

This study highlights the social importance of facial expressions because whether or not we’re consciously aware of them—by gazing into a mirror or your screen on a video conferencing platform—how we present our faces to others can have tremendous impacts on their perceptions of us, our confidence, and our emotional states. This awareness is the essential first step towards

2. Relax Your Face

New research on bruxism and facial tension found the stresses and anxieties of Covid-19 lockdowns led to considerable increases in orofacial pain, jaw-clenching, and teeth grinding, particularly among women.[2]

The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research estimates that more than 10 million Americans alone have temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ syndrome), and facial tension can lead to other complications such as insomnia, wrinkles, dry skin, and dark, puffy bags under your eyes.[3])

To avoid these unpleasant outcomes, start practicing progressive muscle relaxation techniques and taking breaks more frequently throughout the day to moderate facial tension.[4] You should also try out some biofeedback techniques to enhance your awareness of involuntary bodily processes like facial tension and achieve more confident body language as a result.[5]

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3. Improve Your Eye Contact

Did you know there’s an entire subfield of kinesic communication research dedicated to eye movements and behaviors called oculesics?[6] It refers to various communication behaviors including direct eye contact, averting one’s gaze, pupil dilation/constriction, and even frequency of blinking. All of these qualities can shape how other people perceive you, which means that eye contact is yet another area of nonverbal body language that we should be more mindful of in social interactions.

The ideal type (direct/indirect) and duration of eye contact depends on a variety of factors, such as cultural setting, differences in power/authority/age between the parties involved, and communication context. Research has shown that differences in the effects of eye contact are particularly prominent when comparing East Asian and Western European/North American cultures.[7]

To improve your eye contact with others, strive to maintain consistent contact for at least 3 to 4 seconds at a time, consciously consider where you’re looking while listening to someone else, and practice eye contact as much as possible (as strange as this may seem in the beginning, it’s the best way to improve).

3. Smile More

There are many benefits to smiling and laughing, and when it comes to working on more confident body language, this is an area that should be fun, low-stakes, and relatively stress-free.

Smiling is associated with the “happiness chemical” dopamine and the mood-stabilizing hormone, serotonin. Many empirical studies have shown that smiling generally leads to positive outcomes for the person smiling, and further research has shown that smiling can influence listeners’ perceptions of our confidence and trustworthiness as well.

4. Hand Gestures

Similar to facial expressions and posture, what you do with your hands while speaking or listening in a conversation can significantly influence others’ perceptions of you in positive or negative ways.

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It’s undoubtedly challenging to consciously account for all of your nonverbal signals while simultaneously trying to stay engaged with the verbal part of the discussion, but putting in the effort to develop more bodily awareness now will make it much easier to unconsciously project more confident body language later on.

5. Enhance Your Handshake

In the article, “An Anthropology of the Handshake,” University of Copenhagen social anthropology professor Bjarke Oxlund assessed the future of handshaking in wake of the Covid-19 pandemic:[8]

“Handshakes not only vary in function and meaning but do so according to social context, situation and scale. . . a public discussion should ensue on the advantages and disadvantages of holding on to the tradition of shaking hands as the conventional gesture of greeting and leave-taking in a variety of circumstances.”

It’s too early to determine some of the ways in which Covid-19 has permanently changed our social norms and professional etiquette standards, but it’s reasonable to assume that handshaking may retain its importance in American society even after this pandemic. To practice more confident body language in the meantime, the video on the science of the perfect handshake below explains what you need to know.

6. Complement Your Verbals With Hand Gestures

As you know by now, confident communication involves so much more than simply smiling more or sounding like you know what you’re talking about. What you do with your hands can be particularly influential in how others perceive you, whether you’re fidgeting with an object, clenching your fists, hiding your hands in your pockets, or calmly gesturing to emphasize important points you’re discussing.

Social psychology researchers have found that “iconic gestures”—hand movements that appear to be meaningfully related to the speaker’s verbal content—can have profound impacts on listeners’ information retention. In other words, people are more likely to engage with you and remember more of what you said when you speak with complementary hand gestures instead of just your voice.[9]

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Further research on hand gestures has shown that even your choice of the left or right hand for gesturing can influence your ability to clearly convey information to listeners, which supports the notion that more confident body language is readily achievable through greater self-awareness and deliberate nonverbal actions.[10]

Final Takeaways

Developing better posture, enhancing your facial expressiveness, and practicing hand gestures can vastly improve your communication with other people. At first, it will be challenging to consciously practice nonverbal behaviors that many of us are accustomed to performing daily without thinking about them.

If you ever feel discouraged, however, remember that there’s no downside to consistently putting in just a little more time and effort to increase your bodily awareness. With the tips and strategies above, you’ll be well on your way to embracing more confident body language and amplifying others’ perceptions of you in no time.

More Tips on How to Develop a Confident Body Language

Featured photo credit: Maria Lupan via unsplash.com

Reference

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