Power Poses: Not Just for Wonder Woman or Yoga
Stand as tall as you can, maybe even on your tiptoes, stretch your arms wide, and lift your chest and chin. How do you feel after doing this?
Did you know that making ourselves big and expansive is a universal expression – for humans and animals – for feeling triumphant, confident, and empowered?
This is the premise behind Amy Cuddy's fabulous book, “Presence: Bringing Your Boldest Self to Your Biggest Challenges” that is based on her 2012 TED Talk (and happens to be the second-most viewed TED Talk of all time.)
I've been reading this book (well, technically, I've been listening to the audio book) and can't help but draw comparisons with her scientific findings (she's a social psychologist) to the ancient practice of yoga.
The yogis were masters of knowing what to do with our bodies to invoke and alter our moods, emotions, energy, and more.
In my online course, “How to Start a Home Yoga Practice,” I talk about how we can use this awareness to practice the type of yoga that we will need each day. In other words, if we are going to have a high energy day, we might want to have a more grounded, calming yoga practice. On the other hand, if we are going to have a sedentary day at our desk, we might want to have a more active yoga practice that creates a lot of energy, heat, and movement. This way we're creating balance and harmony in our lives.
But we don't necessarily need to know or practice yoga in order to reap the benefits of this knowledge and incorporate it into our days.
By simply standing tall, extending our arms into a V-shape, and lifting our chest and chin, we are practicing what Amy Cuddy refers to as the “starfish” pose. This is one of the power poses that is the premise for her book and TED Talk.
Another power pose is the “Wonder Woman” pose where we stand with our hands on our hips.
It's important to note that feeling more powerful isn't about dominating someone else or taking away their power. It's about coming into our own strength so that we can be confident, assertive, and take our proper space in this world.
And, I believe that when we are comfortable in our own power, we make those around us comfortable with their power as well.
On the contrary, note that if you hunch or round your shoulders and make yourself smaller, you feel less empowered. In yoga we talk about how we do this to protect our heart. Haven't we all experienced that feeling of wanting to curl up in a ball and hide from the world?
It's nice to know that, when needed, we can simply take a stance and access our power. This can be helpful for times that might create stress or anxiety: meetings, exams, performance, interviews, etc.
Just by bringing awareness to how our body movements are affecting us, we are actually practicing yoga, whether we call it that or not.