Take a moment right now to notice how you are holding your body…
Are your feet touching the ground? Are your legs crossed? Are you collapsing forward? Is more of your weight on one side than the other? How do you feel sitting or standing in this way?
I have a tendency to slouch, contracting in my chest and heart. In this body position I often feel insecure, withdrawn, and inward.
Often we sit or stand in habitual ways. This can influence how we feel, what we think, how we act or react, and how others perceive us.
When we want to take a stand for something we are passionate about, it is important to find our inner power, resiliency and strength. I’m going to share a simple exercise and some body-based cues that you can use to help yourself stand stronger and feel more confident when you need it the most.
This practice can be done sitting or standing (if sitting please move to the edge of your chair). Feel free to remove your shoes.
Plant both feet firmly on the ground and receive the earth below you with your feet, hip width apart. Take a few deeps breaths to connect with your body and let your attention move inward. Your eyes can be open (focused on a steady spot in front of you) or closed.
Extend your outbreath to settle your body by activating the calming part of our nervous system.
Become aware of your legs and feet on the ground. Root down through your whole feet, especially the heels. You are like a strong tree reconnecting with its deep roots.
Begin to fill your belly with breath and practice abdominal breathing. You can rest your hands on your belly. Often we have a tendency to hold in our bellies and with it our power!
To increase your confidence extend your head and neck upwards with your inbreath and lengthen. Expand your upper body and arms outward into the space around your body. Drop your shoulders back and down and open your chest. When you increase the personal space you inhabit, you embody more confidence and strength.
How do you feel now? What is going through your mind? What sensations do you notice in your body?
As you hold this pose for a few more moments, let me give you a little background.
A few years ago, social psychologist Amy Cuddy discovered how nonverbal expressions of power (for example expansive, open, space-occupying posture like you are in) effect people’s feelings, behaviours, and hormone levels. Adopting a powerful body posture (“a power pose”) for as little as two minutes can change the biochemistry of the body: we see an increase in testosterone (confidence chemical), decrease cortisol (stress hormone), increase appetite for risk, and cause better performance in high pressure situations like job interviews. The idea is that if you hold yourself powerfully, you will begin to act more powerfully.
I invite you to begin to notice your habitual way of standing during the days to come. This requires awareness of your body. Observe how you stand giving a presentation at work, or at home cooking a meal. Shift into standing strong, as I’ve taught you, on a regular basis.
Here are 3 body-based cues to watch for as you stand strong:
- FEET: Are both of my feet fully engaged with the ground? Do I have equal weight on both feet? Am I standing centered?
- BELLY: Am I breathing into my belly/ into my power center? Can I deepen my breath?
- UPPER BODY: Can I uplift and lengthen a bit more/ head/ neck? Can I drop my shoulders back and down and open my chest and arms?
It takes thousands of repetitions to change the patterns in our bodies. Yet only 2 minutes of being in your personal power pose, can change the way you feel and move in the world.
From time to time, you might need to muster a little strength on the go. This short audio-practice will help you to tap into your power before that big presentation, courageous conversation, job interview, or simply help you get out of that Monday morning slump. You can even download it to your phone, so it’s always at hand.
Join Bettina Rothe for Leading Through the Body: Dancing into Wholeness, May 15-20, 2020.