“Our bodies change our minds, and our minds can change our behavior, and our behavior can change our outcomes."
-- Harvard Business School professor Amy Cuddy
After 25 years as a flamenco dancer (there I am, pictured to the left), and 12 years of teaching more than 1000 women to express their power through flamenco dance, it turns out I'd been adept at something called "power posing" without ever knowing it.
I found this out when one of my students sent me a link to what is now the second-most-viewed TED Talk of all time, entitled, "Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are."
And I started to think about taking what I had learned about transforming women through flamenco dance and transferring that experience and deep sense of knowing to my work with divorcing and divorced women.
I had already been working with body-centered concepts as I coached my divorce recovery clients. You may remember this post -- my blog's all-time most popular one-- entitled, "Let your body send the message, 'I'm ready to receive!'"
All you need is 2 minutes
But "power poses" as described in Amy Cuddy's TED Talk were so direct, so simple, and results so immediate, that I couldn't wait to try them with my clients. (And, I had up my sleeve a few new, more women-centered wrinkles on the poses Cuddy's research used.)
If you haven't see the TED Talk in question, here's some background from an article in the April 2, 2014 issue of the Princeton Alumni Weekly:
"When Amy Cuddy *05 walked into her classroom at Harvard Business School a few years ago to teach about power and influence, she found herself watching the body language of her students. Some of them — mostly men — were going straight to the middle of the room before class, leaning back, and generally occupying a lot of space. Others, mainly women, seemed to make themselves small — they hunched over, wrapped their arms around their bodies, and crossed their legs. These students also tended to participate less in class discussions and seemed less confident. When raising their hands, men were more likely to thrust them high in the air, while women seemed more tentative.
"Studying the postures of the women, Cuddy, who is a social psychologist, wondered: 'If I could change the way they sat, would that make them feel more powerful?' Cuddy took her hunch to the lab. With Dana Carney, a professor at the University of California, Berkeley, and postdoctoral associate Andy Yap, she came up with a study to examine how your body language affects not only how others perceive you, but how you perceive yourself. Their hypothesis was that pretending to be powerful, by striking a power pose, would make people feel more powerful — and, as a result, make them act more powerful."
Faking it actually allows you to become it
Cuddy says that faking the body language of a powerful person goes far beyond the old adage "fake it 'til you make it." Faking it actually allows you to become it, to instantly embody the qualities that you're modeling.
Try it (this is so simple that there's no excuse not to):
1. Assume a power pose (e.g., the Wonder Woman pose, with legs spread hip-width apart and hands on hips, or the Pride Pose with legs hip-width apart and arms stretched overhead in a V)
2. Hold it for 2 minutes
3. Go forth and conquer
Here's my twist on it: Invisible to Irresistible
The body posture that Cuddy calls the Pride Pose was not included in her research, but I find it the most powerful one of all, and one that elicits immediate change. None of this is new. Kundalini yoga practitioners have developed many kriyas (techniques connecting mind, body, and spirit) based on placing the body in various positions, accompanied by breathing techniques that together jump-start remarkable changes in mood, emotions, and energy levels.
Want to explore these power poses, drawn from a variety of traditions, as well as other simple techniques that can give you instant and incredible personal magnetism? Learn more about my Invisible to Irresistible 2-hour program. You'll come away with a super-easy toolkit that changes everything.
Here's Amy Cuddy's Ted Talk on how our body language affects how we think and feel about ourselves, and what we can do about it: