“Stand up straight and realize who you are, that you tower over your circumstances.” -Maya Angelou
The way we hold our bodies affects who we are and who we become in the world. For many of us, it is obvious that our minds change our posture. For instance, when we feel sad or tired, we tend to slouch. But what is often overlooked is that the reverse is true too: our posture changes our minds.
Another example, when people win a competition, they tend to spontaneously throw their arms up into a big victorious V-shape. According to research conducted by Jessica Tracy, PhD, this is demonstrated throughout the world and even for people who are congenitally blind who have never seen this as a learned behavior.
It also seems to be an innate human behavior exhibited throughout time. (Are you imagining gladiators and cavemen with their arms up too?!)
Tricking the Brain With Your Body
In one of the most popular TED Talks of all time, Amy Cuddy, PhD, explains that by simply holding your body into such a powerful pose, you trick your brain into thinking you have achieved a victory, releasing the same hormones it does when you have actually won something.
This leaves you feeling confident and powerful. Yes, you can trick your brain into thinking you are a winner. (And then, possibly manifest more actual wins in your life.)
Modern science is gradually confirming what yogis have known for ages: the body is a very powerful tool to harness the mind. Once we harness our minds, we reveal our “true selves.”
Authenticity, presence and confidence improve. Dr. Cuddy's research finally puts numbers to this ancient wisdom.
On Confidence and Power Poses
By simply holding “power poses” (like the victorious V-shape pose or hands on the hips like Wonder Woman) for two minutes, levels of a hormone related to confidence (testosterone) go up and levels of a key stress hormone (cortisol) go down.
Pharmaceutical companies probably don’t want you to know that you can change your brain chemistry through your posture. This has implications for depression related to low self-esteem, social anxiety, and for you feeling drained as you hunch over your computer or phone right now. Do you feel empowered or what?
The brilliant thing about these “power poses” is that they can be done anywhere by anybody. The same is absolutely true for yoga. You don't need to go out and buy fancy clothes or join a studio to do yoga; you can do some powerful moves right where you are sitting now — at your home or in your office.
For more awesome tips on improving your posture in just 10 minutes a day, join the FREE Office Yoga Challenge with Ann Swanson: www.doyouyoga.com/office
For classes at home, join this simple program: Yoga for Great Posture.