How to ‘walk down the aisle’ with confidence
By Charlotte Dodson

Yoga, being a holistic practice, compliments every lifestyle and activity level, making your every living day a more healthy and energetic one. There are many ways in which yoga can help you to gain confidence and walk down the street, catwalk or wedding aisle with your chin held high, turning all heads as you glide on by!

As the countdown begins to your wedding day, it’s wonderful to generate positivity and inspiration whilst building a flexible and strong body (and mind!) – and of course, to walk down the aisle with height, confidence and pride.

For your special day, you want to look and feel your absolute best – you want that confidence in knowing you’ll soon be shining brightly and glowing with radiance as you walk gracefully down the aisle. In order to assist you in gliding towards your soon-to-be-life-partner whilst feeling tall, lean and toned, yoga is a practice that can provide the foundation for attaining this goal – sculpting and strengthening your mind, body and spirit. Creating a shapely body is only part of the varied, beneficial gifts that yoga teaches people – it also provides us with real ‘depth’, showing us the way to finding inner peace and harmony while living every moment to its fullest. Yoga is a journey of life, which suits each and everyone of us – benefiting us in every way.

The key to any ‘big’ life situation, experience or change-in-attitude is to truly live in the present moment. Cherish the journey leading up to the big day and the many beautiful moments that will follow – every moment is one to treasure with love and appreciation. When we attempt to predict the future from a place of uncertainty, it can cause anxiety and feelings of being overwhelmed; when we dwell in the past (especially with regret) it can cause tension as we “hold onto” something – thus generating negative energy which can be stored in the body.

Presented below are ways in which you can practice the art of living in the present moment with positivity; at the same time, this simple step-by-step routine will give you confidence and a well-toned, postural body. The combined effect will leave you feeling magical and fully prepared to embrace your special day.

Yoga works your whole body in one harmonious ‘interaction’, creating benefits on all levels. Within this ‘flow’ of working your entire being, you can bring your intention to certain areas in order to build more strength and openness in that particular part of the whole. This following sequence incorporates meditational techniques, along with defining the body’s ‘shape’.

It’s really easy to get carried away, whether on your wedding day or during busy schedules. As you rest your mind and ‘allow’ the moment to fill your consciousness, repeat a mantra within yourself – it’s a precious experience that will stay with you for life. Time can slip away quickly during such expectant periods, so it’s crucial to give yourself time out to relax physically, mentally, and emotionally. Life can feel like it’s getting on top of you, but by giving yourself space and tranquility, life will be filled with all the space and time you’ll ever need. Thoughts will come and go. The key is to acknowledge them, and allow them to dissolve into your breath. Your breath is you, it’s your act of bringing a moment into the world. As you rest your mind and begin to focus on your breath, it will allow you to truly cherish the gift of every precious moment (after all, that is why they call it ‘the present’).

‘I am strong, confident and proud of every part of who I am’.

It’s important to truly ‘stop’ for a moment and tap into yourself to really ‘know’ how you’re feeling. Moments of excitement or overwhelming feelings can take you away from how you ‘truly’ are.

Start by laying on your back, and place a cushion under your knees if your lower back feels tender. Bring your hands onto your chest (overlap hands), on top of your heart. With your eyes closed and awareness focused upon your heart centre, repeat the mantra to yourself ‘I am strong, confident and proud of every part of who I am’. You can repeat this a few times and lay quietly, allowing this simple mantra to absorb into every part of your being. Allow the place of stillness and strength to always be there for you. Breathe deeply and naturally through both nostrils for about 5-10 minutes or longer. Take a few deeper breaths to finish, roll out to the right side, and up into a cross legged posture.

Stand with pride

This ‘mountain’ pose strengthens, tones and lengthens your muscles if you work it correctly. Begin at the top of your mat in ‘Tadasana’. Feet together, legs charged and arms actively working down by your sides. Keep your belly tucked in and your chin stays in towards your throat. Now you have your base position, start to press your big toes and heels firmly into the ground, rolling your shin bones inward and at the same time roll your upper thighs outwardly. This is called ‘spiraling’ – like the action of a rope, it creates strength, length and openness for your joints. Follow this same energetic feeling upward through the body. Roll your upper arms outwardly and palms rolling inward, drawing your fingers down towards the floor. Keep your shoulders back and chest open and wide. Lengthen from the top of your head, down towards the base of your feet. Breathe deeply into this pose and energetic feeling for 5-10 breaths, and release on your exhalation.

Work your whole body.

Yoga lengthens and strengthens the muscles at the same time, giving a lean, toned shape for your body – it’ll make you feel tall and proud. Feel and look beautiful in your stunning wedding gown, displaying defined arms and legs that were sculpted with the help of yoga.

“Downward Dog” variation (Adho Mukha Svanasana). Start by coming into a kneeling position, hands at shoulder distant apart, knees hip distant apart. Interlock your hands, press firmly into your elbows and forearms. Roll your shoulders outward and keep your chin tucked into your throat. Lift your hips high, and either stay here, or tuck your toes under and lift up to straighten your legs into a variation of downward dog. Work your fist towards the top of the mat, keeping your hips lifting up towards the ceiling. You can always bend your knees in this posture. Breathe deeply for 5-10 breaths before releasing back onto your knees. Repeat another 2-3 times.

Flat belly

Stay trim and toned in your middle region with your “Boat pose” (Navasana).

Sit onto your pelvic bone with your feet out in front of you. Bend your legs, and place your hands under your thighs. On your next inhale, balance onto your buttocks as you raise your legs up 90 degrees. Keep your chest drawing forward and shoulders back. If that feels comfortable, release your hands and keep your arms parallel to the floor.To deepens the pose, you can try straightening your legs. This builds core, leg and back strength. If your lower back feels sore, keep your feet lightly touching the floor. Breathe into the pose for 5 breaths before repeating 3 more times.

Walk with confidence

Now you can combine these movements into your every step of your living day. When you walk down the street, catwalk or aisle, stride with height, confidence and pride. Start in ‘Tadasana’ and keep your chin tucked into your throat, with your neck long and protected. Keep your belly actively drawing into your spine. Lengthen the ‘crown of your head’ up towards the sky and as you take a step forward feel your head lift higher with every step. Do the same with your next step and the following one. See if you can hold your head held high for about 10 steps or more. It’s a subtle movement as you keep your height growing higher with every movement. By the time you get to your destination, you will feel taller, leaner – fully proud of who you are, and ready to embrace the moment.

Inner balance

Yoga is a tool to balance, centre and relax you. Are your emotions all over the place? Are you riding an up-and-down roller coaster? Or are you always feeling like a worried worrier? Let it all go, R-E-L-A-X, and give yourself harmony. How? By placing your hands under your opposite armpit, your chest (an energy center of the mind-body matrix) is able to balance your emotions – it really works!

Come into a cross legged comfortable posture. Keep your spine upright, shoulders rolling back and chin slightly tucked into your throat. Bring your hands across your chest, and place each hand under the opposite armpit. Lock your elbows into your ribcage and keep your breath long, deep and natural for 5-20 minutes – the longer you maintain this pose the more balanced you’ll become. This pose balances the two hemispheres of your brain. Make sure you also keep yourself rehydrated – this balancing act affects your kidneys alongside your emotions.

Rest completely

Make sure you rest and let go completely. Remain lying flat, and release your arms down by your sides, with your palms facing upwards, and shoulders rolling out. With your eyes closed, allow yourself to fall into a harmonious place of quietness, stillness, and peace. Lay in ‘savasana’ for 5-10 minutes before rolling out to your right side. Take a rest there and slowly lift up to a cross-legged sitting position.

Join your hands to prayer, and bow your head down slightly as you bow to yourself. Sit still with your spine upright, holding yourself with grace and confidence. And from your strong heart, share your inner love with someone else, dear from your heart, unconditionally. Now you can go about your every day with pride, love and grace. You’ll embrace every step with your head held high.