Body language is one of those curious concepts that came up as part of my Psychology degree and I’ve been sort of aware of in a back burner kind of way ever since. In the practice of Yoga and Pilates, body awareness is key, and we practice poses that elicit power but also some that feel protective. Awareness of ones’ body language in daily life is often harder to maintain and why would we need to be aware of it? We have enough to be aware of right?
Well recently I had the good fortune to come across a TED talk by Amy Cuddy on body language that really changed my view on the importance of how we hold ourselves. Ms. Cuddy researches body language and had some pivotal things to say in this TED talk about how your body can change your mind. To me, this was another layer in the mind-body work we do as movement educators. Ms. Cuddy framed it that the body’s posture sends messages to the brain on its perception of personal power in a given moment. Her research showed that how we hold ourselves can influence the brain even so far as to change hormone release, to increase or decrease a sense of power and stress. So for instance if I sit all curled up, with my limbs crossed and spine rounded, the brain senses low power and a need to be protective of self. Whereas if I sit with an open posture, taking up more space, the brain senses I am more powerful in that moment. This totally ties into our practice of Yoga and Pilates!!!
But she took it further. Her research showed that there was a flow effect with how we hold ourselves in that the body changes the mind, and the mind changes our behaviour, and finally the behaviour changes our outcomes. In a nutshell, let your body hang out in the “power” positions and you will create change for yourself by changing your behaviour (maybe be more assertive or confident or optimistic or take more risks) and your new behaviours will change your outcomes (maybe you will get that job or increase your sales or have more people notice what you made).
Hey but no one says it’s easy to suddenly change how we hold ourselves. Ms. Cuddy has some cool little exercises you can do to effect change in your postural habits routinely. She also coined the phrase “Fake it ‘til you become it.” Slightly more than faking it ‘til you make it, a phrase we’ve probably all heard at some point.
If you have 20 minutes, I urge you to check out her talk on YouTube. The link below should get you there (copy to Youtube). It will be the best investment you make in yourself today!!
Click on the link below.
Stand tall and walk proudly my friends.
I wish you all an amazing day!
Lisa Goddard B.A., BScOT, NWL, is a Certified Pilates Instructor with special training in Pre and Post-Natal Pilates. She co-owns Balanced Motion Pilates and Yoga Studio in New Liskeard, ON