On the 8th March it was International Women’s Day and it order to mark the event there was a festival at the Southbank Centre called WOW. The Women of the World festival celebrates women and girls and hosts many talks, workshops and events by inspiring speakers and women from different backgrounds, ethnicities, age and nationalities.

I have been to the event a number of times and I always find the space and energy of the event to be inspiring and powerful.  One word that often comes up is the word empowerment. So what does it mean to be empowered? I looked it up in the dictionary and it said… ‘the process of becoming stronger and more confident, especially in controlling one’s life and claiming one’s rights.’

Now I don’t know about you but I certainly want to be and feel empowered in my life. Feeling in control of my life as well as my rights makes me feel independent and strong. It teaches me that I don’t need to rely on anyone else to improve my life and that I am capable of creating the life that I want.  That doesn’t mean not taking help when I need to or being dependant on people but the process of empowerment creates a sense of faith within yourself.

From my own experience I really believe that the practice of yoga has helped me to feel empowered. Therefore I wanted to share five ways of how yoga can empower you to feel strong and confident and claim your rights…

1. Develop Independence

When you step on your yoga mat everyday (or once a week depending on how often you practice yoga) you know it helps your overall health and wellbeing. Through the practice you eliminate the need to be dependent on outer forms such as doctors or drugs to help your wellbeing. Though I am not suggesting you do not take help from these forms when you need to but your practice will strengthen you so that you do not have to rely on external methods to maintain health and wellness. You become independent and free from the control of external subjugation. Instead you can choose whether to take the drugs to eliminate that headache or instead practice yoga poses or breathing techniques which will allow you to naturally overcome the headache.

2. Advocate Yourself

The practice of yoga can be a solo journey therefore you learn to become your own best friend. No one forces you to practice yoga and it is rarely taught in schools where they may insist you take part in the practice (though it is becoming more widespread across schools) Therefore yoga allows you the opportunity to take care of yourself and enjoy your own company. Even when you attend a group session though you will be practicing alongside other people the process of breath and focus teaches you to go inward and connect to the quiet space of your soul.

3. Listen to Your Body 

Yoga allows you to become more in tune with your body and our body speaks to us in its own language. For example when you are in a situation and something doesn’t ‘feel’ right your body may tighten and your breath will quicken. This is often a sign that you need to change the situation because it is not right for you. This can happen in all sorts of situations such as deciding whether or not to quit your job, to purchase a house or even in more extreme cases where you think you are in danger. Listening to your body gives you a sense of control in terms of the decisions you make.

4. Listen to Your Heart

Yoga teaches us to listen to the whispers of our heart and often these whispers can be drowned out by the external noise of society’s needs and demands. Often listening to the heart takes strength and courage and at times it may require you to override the expectations of society. But the heart always guides you onto the path of your true purpose which will give you great happiness and joy.

5. Develop Strength

Inevitably through yoga you will strengthen your body but you will also strengthen your mind, your character and your resolve. When you believe in something so deeply or you find yourself in a situation which goes against your inner truth yoga will give you the strength to be courageous and brave and to do what is right.

I hope the above sheds some light on how yoga can empower you and please note that the points above are all based on my own experiences and feelings. Perhaps you have found empowerment through a different path or understanding because our inner power will come to us in different forms. But I hope that we as women and men strive to feel more empowered in our own body, mind and souls to make this world a more equal and harmonious space.

What are your thoughts on empowerment? Do you find that yoga empowers you too? It would be great to hear from you and explore this subject more so please do share your comments below.

Lots of love,

Jaina Xx

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