Recently I watched social psychologist Amy Cuddy’s TED talk about the power of your posture to influence your mind and well-being. This is something yogis have known for thousands of years, of course, yet it helps our cause more when Western science backs it up, too.
Power poses, as Cuddy explains, can influence a person’s feelings that might come up during challenging or stressful situations such as job interviews, public speaking, or tests.
High power poses are typically expansive, take up space, and invite the person to physically open up in a show that is unafraid and confident. Low power poses typically are smaller, collapsed, and diminutive, more a sign of defeat.
Toss your “Fake it ‘til you make it” magnet.
We all know the old adage, “Fake it ‘til you make it.” Well, with power posing, Cuddy suggests a tweak to that statement.
When people spend time doing these high power poses as part of their personal prep before a stressful situation, they can actually fake it ‘til they become it, meaning these kinds of poses can alter the way you perceive yourself.
If you try out a high power pose for two minutes, you can feel empowered before that interview.
Now, get on your mat!
So what does that mean for us yogis? Well as we wind down 2014 and stressful situations might be creeping up more often than not for you, here are five yoga poses to ignite your inner power this season.
1. Upward Salute (Urdhva Hastasana)
A traditional part of basic Sun Salutations, this pose is simple, yet all powerful. Cuddy mentions that raising our arms is a natural celebratory move that we do without being conscious of it. You take up space and show the world a confident, exuberant side of yourself.
This definitely calls for a cheer: "Winner, right here!"
2. Tree Pose (Vrksasana)
Peaceful and powerful, Tree Pose takes the same celebration arm variation of the Upward Salute and adds a little thing called balance to further ground you.
As you come into this pose, take a full breath that lifts your heart, invites you to let go of what you cannot control, and inspires you to stay true to your power.
3. Warrior II (Virabhadrasana II)
Many of the common Warrior poses are expansive and powerful, so you really can have your pick with any of these. I like Warrior II because of the subtle strength and fierceness of your arms and the ”Don’t mess with me” stance in your legs. You. Got. This!
4. Goddess (Utkata Konasana)
This pose, which I’ve also heard called Yogic Squat, is wickedly subtle in its power, like a goddess, I’d wager.
It requires strength in your quads, openness in hips, and core stability to ensure you walk out of the pose with a smile. But you take up space and simultaneously send your heart and mind a message that you CAN kick butt!
5. Lord Of The Dance (Natarajasana)
See my Pose Therapy column on the "kickasana" nature of this pose named after the Hindu god, Shiva, a.k.a. the Destroyer. After a successful bout vanquishing a few demons of ignorance and melodrama this season, you’ll be celebrating with your own groovy moves.
Rock out these poses anytime you feel you might need a boost of inner power, like the yogic spinach to your inner Popeye. And I do recommend you check out Amy Cuddy’s TED talk on Power Poses, too.