Body language has the ability to empower or defeat. Where I don’t follow the belief that a cluttered desk is equivalent to a cluttered mind, I firmly support that body language, or non-verbal communication, can be more revealing than words. Even before a hand shake or hug, much can be assumed about a person by the position of their head, shoulders, arms and their gaze. Clairsentience is the ability to see and feel things in others that are not sensually present. A heartfelt look at another’s body position opens a doorway to clairsentience where we “have a feeling” about someone. Most people recognize that the feelings then lead to judgements. But what is not typically understood is that our body language also influences what we think about ourselves.
As a mother of 12 year old twin girls, it is instinctual to gently touch a finger tip to the space between their shoulder blades as a gentle reminder not to slouch; or more poignantly, to stand with confidence. “Girls’ self-esteem plummets at age 12 and doesn’t improve until 20, an unhappiness attributed to changes in body shape…” (NYC Girls Project). The NCY Girls project is addressing the issue of self-esteem and body image in young girls. One of their recommendations: The Wonder Woman Pose! I grew up in the 70’s as a huge fan of Linda Carter and secretly imagined she could dominate the Six Million Dollar Man. What I was too young to understand is that her high power pose was the source of her success.
According to Social Psychologist Amy Cuddy, standing like Wonder Woman can improve self-image. In her TED Talk “Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are”, Amy shares research on how adapting a posture of power for as little as two minutes a day can change the outcome of your life. She explains how body language shapes outcomes in everything from employment interviews to MBA grades to the likelihood of a doctor being sued. Cognizant or not, we form opinions about others based on non-verbal communication. But Amy’s talk centers on how non-verbal communication not only governs what others think about us, but that “our bodies change our minds;” chemically speaking. Research shows testosterone (dominance) and cortisol (stress) levels are directly related to body position. And unfortunately there is a gender discrepancy as the young girls grow up to be women who are better at making themselves small.
Please take 20 minutes to watch Amy’s TED talk, because as she says, why reserve this information for doctors and MBA’s? Maybe the old school idea of young girls walking around with books on their heads isn’t such a crazy idea; or as Amy Cuddy suggests, doing a “power pose” in a bathroom stall to prepare for an important event. But as a yoga teacher, I question why we would hide in a bathroom stall. If “our minds change our bodies, and our bodies change our minds”, and yoga is the uniting of the body and mind, why not stand in your fiercest Warrior pose for 2 minutes? Many yoga poses are meant to expand the front of the body and bring us into our powerful presence in a way that we can apply to life without hiding.
Fake it til you make it? Yes. Fake it til you become it? Even better. Nothing against the Wonder Woman Pose, but I will stick to using bathrooms to pee and yoga to self empower. And bring on Lee Majors!