The Power of Posture

fastcompany.com

How’s your posture right now? Are you slouched over the screen? Are you touching your neck or crossing your legs? Maybe, like me, you’ve even got them folded up to your chest. It’s true. I’m the biggest slouching Sally out there, and therefore am an expert on low-power posture. The fact that I married a chiropractor is one of those ironic god-sends, because before I started getting adjusted, I was starting to look a little like this:

<br />spencare.com

Anterior neck carriage, courtesy of: genetics/homework/the general desire to be invisible.
spencare.com

Before I was aware of my posture, I never realized what I was projecting to the world. My low-power posture projected an image of low confidence, passivity, pessimism and guardedness (not to mention messed up my spinal/pelvic alignment!).

While low-power poses involve shrinking into space, high power poses involve expanding into space; making yourself tall, shoulders back, arms spread. Think WonderWoman. Or this bird.

Now that body language paints an image of confidence, assertion, optimism and openness. High-power posture clearly projects a strong presence declaring, “I’m the best candidate for this job.”, or “This is my carcass, you Eurasian Griffin bitches.” You only have to take one short glance at that picture to see who’s the boss.

We use nonverbal cues all the time to make judgments about the people around us. Our body language has a definite affect on the external world and what other people think of us, but social status aside, could it also have an inwards effect? What does our posture make us think about ourselves? How does our posture affect our moods, stress levels, behaviour, choices and ultimately, our whole lives?

Social scientist, Amy Cuddy set out to explore just that. Ever hear about that study where people who forced a smile during their morning shower, felt happier throughout the day? Amy took that knowledge that the body affects the mind, and applied it to the area of posture.

She wondered, if people adopted a high-power pose versus a low-power pose for 2 minutes, how might that effect them hormonally? She tested the saliva of her subjects before and after their 2 minute pose, and found this:

  • Those who had been in a high-power pose showed a 20% increase in testosterone, and a 25% decrease in cortisol (stress hormone).
  • Those who had been in a low-power pose showed a 10% decrease in testosterone, and a 10% increase in cortisol.

The high-power posers also took more risks, and were rated more hireable than their low-posture counterparts.

I know which pose I’m picking before my next job interview.

Wonder Woman: amazonarchives.com

Wellness and personal development often start from inner changes in the mind and then span out to the physical world. But where there is awareness, they can just as easily spring from the physical world to the inner world. Whether you’re trying to get your dream job, reach your goal weight, or land a hot bird, you’ll do yourself a world of favour by becoming aware of your posture. Present yourself as you would if your goal was already realized, and your mind will begin to believe it.

Your body affects your mind, your mind affects your behaviour, and your behaviour affects your outcomes. Think of your posture as a physical affirmation, signalling to the world, and more importantly to yourself that ‘you are confident, you are powerful and you deserve to be here’.

Please watch Amy Cuddy’s TED talk at the bottom of this post, and learn more about your posture and how it shapes who you are!

“Don’t fake it til you make it, fake it til you become it.” Amy Cuddy

“Whoever becomes receptive to the idea of peace, poise and calm – whoever embodies these divine realities – finds them flowing through him and he becomes peaceful, poised and calm.” – Ernest Holmes

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15 comments

  1. Great post! I admit that for me there is definitely room for growth in this regard… I could benefit from being more mindful of my posture, my body language, and the inner states that they reveal. These are lessons I am still learning…

    Thanks for sharing this 🙂

  2. I sit for so long studying that I slouch but at least I remember straightening myself and I’ll give my self credit for that 😛

    1. Yes, at least you remember to straighten up! I had such bad posture through university. I really was starting to look like that bird… : )

  3. Great post! Thank you for sharing!!

    1. I’m so glad you enjoyed it. Thank you for visiting : )

  4. Great post! Just earlier today I was thinking about posture after I became aware that I was slouching and really hunkering into myself. Reduced cortisol? Yes please! I will keep this in mind going forward. Thanks 🙂

    1. I have to correct myself at least a dozen times a day, but it’s worth it. I’m pretty sure I’ve got an excess of cortisol so whatever I can do to lessen it is fine by me!

  5. Reblogged this on Self-development with meditation and commented:
    Was about to blog from the same Ted video a while ago but here it is even in better form I could have managed.

    1. Thank you for sharing! I am honoured : )

  6. It’s amazing to think how small things like posture can effect how others portray us! Definitely will be holding my chin a little higher and my shoulders back more. Great post!

    1. Posture is something I’ve neglected for years! I knew it was important but I never realized how important. Body and mind are very connected. Glad to see you stopping by!

  7. What an interesting post. Fun to learn these things about posture, and I agree–it’s more important than people realize. When I started doing yoga over 10 years ago, I noticed my posture markedly improved. It’s important to maintain proper posture so muscles “remember” it and automatically go back to that position. Not always easy to do when one is at the computer all day. 🙂

    1. Yoga is awesome for becoming aware of your body, and taking for expanding, high-power poses. It’s no surprise I feel so calm and powerful afterwards. Hello testosterone. Goodbye cortisol.

      1. Carrie Rubin · ·

        As long as I don’t grow chest hair from that testosterone burst…

      2. bahaha, Wonder Woman has never looked so powerful…

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