The benefits of power poses and their effects on our physical and psychological health
Body language plays an important role in determining our state of mind as well as our overall sense of well-being. Research has shown that it can influence the levels of the hormones testosterone and cortisol, which have been shown to impact our ability to deal with stress.
High levels of testosterone have been associated with increased feelings of confidence, while high levels of the stress hormone cortisol induce the opposite effect, resulting in anxiety and depression.
A study has shown that people suffering from depression tend to adopt ‘low power’ poses which are closed and guarded (such as rounded upper back, arms folded, neck and head flexed forward). Similarly, it has been found that such poses can make us feel depressed, causing a decrease in testosterone and an increase in cortisol levels.
This demonstrates that our physiology can affect our psychology, in the same way, that our psychology can affect our physiology.
In her research, Amy Cudd has found that holding ‘high-power’ poses, which are generally more open, relaxed and expansive, for up to two minutes, can cause an increase in the levels of testosterone by 20 % and a decrease in cortisol by 25%. Such hormonal profile promotes a more relaxed, confident and assertive state of being , and an improved ability to deal with stress.
So ‘fake until you make it’! Instead of hunching down in your chair or car seat, trying to take as little space as possible, open up , lift your chin up and draw the chest forwards. Practice standing firmly on your two feet (slightly wider than hip-width apart) with hands on your hips, feeling strong and empowered. Raise and hold your arms wide over your head, allowing yourself experience a sense of victory. Use these power posing techniques during challenging and stressful situations, such as before an important meeting, presentation, exam or an interview.
Watch Amy Cudd’s TED talk to understand more about the power of power posing and its application in our every-day life.
References and Further Reading:
1. The Benefit of Power Posing Before a High-Stakes Social Evaluation –https://dash.harvard.edu/bitstream/handle/1/9547823/13-027.pdf?sequence=1
2. Power Posing , Viramudra & Jayamudra – http://www.yinyoga.com/newsletter16_powerposes.php