5 Yoga Poses for Confidence with Chelsey Forbes

Chelsey Forbes, a vibrant yoga practitioner quickly becoming one of the most sought-after teachers in our community, carries herself with enviable confidence. You’ll know her by the way she lights up a room, drawing students in with a calming, infectious energy. So, we caught up with Chelsey to ask about her favorite poses for cultivating confidence, and to see if there were any rituals up her sleeve that might inspire us.

On yoga boosting confidence levels:
“My yoga practice has changed, I used to crave a really physically demanding class and now I relish in seated practice that can range anywhere from 5 minutes to 20. It’s important to have techniques and use them to inform you, instead of diminish. The more I learn about myself, the safer I feel in the world. We are all just people having a human experience and coming from different worlds. I am confident that the universe is working according to plan, it’s perfect.” On how it feels in our bodies to have increased awareness and confidence: “I’m admittedly an anxious person and my practice has helped me become more aware of that - I try to operate from a place of awareness, and not control, because life will move with and without you, my mom used to say this. I try to be kind to myself. In meditation, which is really a pranayama practice, I place my hands on different parts of my body, belly, ribs, chest, etc. to see where it’s easiest for me to access clear streams of breath. I feel best when I can breathe into the belly, slowly. I like tuning in and striking the palms together to create friction and heat, then placing the palms against my eyes to gather the warmth and spark that was created in that short amount of time. The external fascia tells you a lot about what’s going on inside. And that’s the thing about confidence, it’s not really taught, it’s always there. It’s up to you to find it.”

Chelsey’s 5 Poses for Cultivating Confidence: Urdhva Hastasana
Upward facing hands pose is the first asana that came to mind for Chelsey Forbes when asked about her favorite poses for confidence. Looks can be deceiving because this active, energizing pose takes a lot of effort. Chelsey explains, “It’s extremely traditional, everyone can do it, and it plays the game of polarity which I like to explore in my classes. The root system of your legs connects you to the earth which substantiates you, the pelvic floor and abdomen are engaged, and your arms lifting as extensions of the heart radiate up and out like the sun.” Confidence is about having the courage to take up space and Urdhva Hastasana is a great practice into that.

Virabhadrasana 1 / Warrior 1
This foundational standing pose is really necessary in helping to build focus, balance and strength. Forbes admits, “I used to vow that I would never teach Warrior 1 or Virabhadrasana 1 in my classes- it was super difficult for me for a long time and would take me to a place of judgement… I teach it pretty often now and although it’s not a part of my personal practice, it’s a great way to become stronger while remaining soft with yourself, through the external stimuli, and through the breath. Once you steady that, the shape doesn’t feel so static.”

Sirsasana / Headstand
Chelsey recommends the King of all Asanas, Headstand, as another ideal pose for embodying confidence in a practice. For those of us who are new to inversions, she recommends using the wall and setting up with a blanket on top of your palms to go between your head and hands, adding some extra cushioning, and reminding us to stay active through the arms. Keep in mind, you never want weight on the actual skull. Chelsey explains the why behind this choice, “Headstand transfers powerful stimulation towards the brain since there is increased blood supply, being that you’re upside down. It also sharpens the senses and, to me, mirrors meditation (which is really the most coveted piece of a yoga practice).”

Plow Pose
Forward Folds are some of the most intense postures in yoga, and often they’re used for deep introspection. Oftentimes, in order to present confidently on the outside, we have to first go inside. Chelsey recommends staying in a forward fold as long as you possibly can, “If I’m choosing plow as my final shape in class, I’ll give myself a count and vow to not break the shape unless I’ve completed the cycle. I always end feeling refreshed, alive, and like I can do anything. It’s like creating a goal, sticking with the process no matter how annoying it is, and coming out on the other side without an attachment to the outcome.” As for props, Chelsey confirms we can go crazy, especially in a home practice. A block or blanket behind the back creates a nice boundary for those of us who tend to be more flexible, and sandbags on the feet are a grounding addition for VATA’s (people with airy qualities).

Forbes’ final pick is a deep hip opener, Gomukhasana. The hip joint is the largest in the body, so it’s no mystery that we hold a lot of physical and emotional discomfort in this region. When it comes to cultivating confidence and assurance in oneself, Chelsey wants her students to know, “Letting go leads you to a place of liberation. Fear is stored in the lower region of the body, and once you’re free of that, you’re capable of anything.” When coming into this pose, remember that it can be extremely dynamic- you can swim, twist, fold, or stay upright and embrace the organic sensation. Forbes assures us, “When you have a secure bolt at the pelvis, the flush of energy that gets released is incredible.”

“My yoga practice is my life and luckily I’m at a place where the personal finally supports the communal and not the other way around.” As for supporting rituals for confidence, Forbes says laughing is an absolute non-negotiable, “It’s free and luckily I don’t really need much to get a good jolt in.” The beloved Katonah teacher also swears by dance parties, cuddles with her dog, and time spent with close friends and fellow teachers. If we’re getting fancy with it though, “A massage once a month, Russian Turkish baths, and a glass of wine. It’s a lot of work!”

Find Chelsey at SKY TING and soak up more of her teachings at any time on SKY TING TV with your monthly subscription.