Lacking in confidence or feeling shy? It’s not about how we look, but discovering who we really are, that gives us confidence. Movement teacher, Isobel Palmer, explains that falling over and picking ourselves up again is liberating, helps build self-esteem and enhances our sense of empowerment.
As someone who teaches movement for actors, I am naturally going to sing the praises of taking a movement class.
But it was my own progressive journey in taking movement classes myself, along with witnessing the journey of those taking my classes, that spurs me to highlight its deep and profound contribution to self-confidence.
I trained in movement, I work in movement and I love to move!
There are the obvious physical benefits of a regular movement class – it keeps you fit, helps regulate weight and it releases all those juicy endorphins, but there's so much more ...
For me, it has helped alleviate a life-long battle with IBS, which is exacerbated by working at a desk for a number of years. And although all these things are reasons your confidence can be improved in a movement class, we mustn’t forget the hidden health benefits.
The approach to movement classes is something I think many people often get wrong. The emphasis is usually put on the end result as the route to greater confidence, such as achieving a washboard stomach, or helping your bum to tone up and defy gravity.
Imperfection is beauty, madness is genius and it's better to be absolutely ridiculous than absolutely boring. – Marilyn Monroe
Rather than worrying about "looking silly" in these classes, I was given the time and space to slowly strip away caring what other people were thinking, or how I thought I looked, and instead started experiencing how my body actually felt whilst moving.
It's about what feels good, what feels freeing, what feels uncomfortable, vulnerable even. Movement classes are a way to express yourself fee from judgement, even your own.
From a performance point of view, there is nothing more captivating than someone who really is moving without self-consciousness, in the same way as we smile when watching a child dance, unashamedly, to music.
One can still find the joy and freedom in both moving, and witnessing this unselfconscious way of moving among adults. Would you judge the child for dancing off beat, or losing themselves completely in the experience of learning what their body can or cannot do? No, so why do we judge ourselves?
Just like a good play, beauty and stories are not told when everything is controlled and perfectly pitched, but when there is drama, vulnerability, expression and stumbles.
So although one might berate oneself for stumbling in tree pose, remember that this is a safe and captivating encapsulation of life and drama. How wonderful to be able to explore that in such a fun and safe environment.
A Student of Life
Allowing oneself to be a student in one aspect of our life is a liberating opportunity where one is allowed to get things wrong. The fear of getting things wrong can stop us from doing it at all, so when going to a class, it is not the "getting it right" that should be the focus, but the trying it in the first place that should be celebrated.
We are constantly changing and discovering new things about ourselves and a class gives us this safe space to explore. It is my job to see the interest and beauty in all the stumbles and nuances. And with experience and exploration within movement classes you choose, you will too.
Don’t let the "body beautiful" end result be the thing that drives you. Let any physical change be a bonus, let it creep up on you as you are busy enjoying getting your body moving, and all the wonderful self-discovery this entails.
Tips to remember when going to your
Confidence-Boosting Movement Class
- Confidence through going to a class comes from the doing, not just the results.
- Challenge and surprise yourself – think outside the box. Be it yoga, Zumba, tango dancing or aerial trapeze – there is so much choice. No excuses to be bored.
- Allow yourself to be a student – not perfect. Choosing to go to a movement class is one of the only moments in my life where a stumble causes me to laugh rather than cry, and it is something that with enough dedication, subconsciously infiltrates into your day-to-day attitude too.
- Take time to thank your body – that ‘namaste’ at the end of a yoga class, locating that muscle we’ve never felt before in a Pilates class, feeling your bum shake in Zumba – let classes educate you about yourself, rather than working on "keeping the body beautiful".
So take the time out to get to know yourself better – what frightens you? What doesn’t? Explore what you can do and what you need to practise more of.
Mix up your classes – pumping music and adrenaline is great, but also allow some stillness and time for reflection. Confidence comes from discovering and exploring the depths of who you really are. .