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Serene Action Power Pose

 

Give yourself the BOOST we can all get for free with a Power Pose.  Read the post and then use the FREE audio download for guidance.

The phrase Power Pose has been in and out of the media several times, with articles generally split between two related, although different considerations.  One set observing the poses of third parties; usually public figures.  The other far closer to home, looking at your own posture and whether this has an affect on you.  The second is discussed in this post and includes a guide for raising your mood and approach to life.

 

Powerful Chemicals

How we feel in certain situations is mostly controlled by our brain activity and the chemicals being released.  Specifically here thinking about our emotional state, are we feeling confident or perhaps less so, possibly even nervous.  For the most part this comes down to levels of Testosterone, which is the dominance hormone and Cortisol, which is the stress hormone present.

As Margaret Mead said, ‘Always remember that you are absolutely unique.  Just like everybody else.  The same is true for our baseline of these chemicals.

Some people have a naturally high level of testosterone and a low level of cortisol – this could produce an apparent what the hell character, although due to the low level of cortisol on the inside this character may not be making a conscious ‘hang the expense’ type analysis – they don’t even think of the downside.

While in the reverse situation low testosterone and high cortisol you could end up with a very cautious character, concerned more about what could go wrong than their own level of drive.  Being wary or failure this person can be very conservative in their risk taking.

Then along comes Goldilocks – a sweet balance of testosterone & cortisol.  The right amount of drive to push on and the balancing amount of caution to keep that drive in check.  The kind of person we might all aspire to be?

But wait, it is not so simple, these levels move around depending on a variety of factors.  Picture yourself down the pub telling a self promoting story, feels good right?  Now in walks a Police officer who looks straight at you, how might this effect your mood?

In general when you want to ‘give it your best’ increasing your testosterone while decreasing your cortisol is desirable.  Having high testosterone doesn’t mean you need to go all Arnold Schwarzenegger any more than having a powerful car means you need to exceed the speed limit.  You choose how to invest this personal empowerment.

 

Driving Chemicals

My memory seems unable to dredge up which comedian I heard explain how it is us useful to make people quack – like a Duck.  The science that followed the explanation was simple, although the authority (the comedian) great; after all good comedians are experts at manipulating our thoughts and feelings.

So what was the science?  Try saying ‘quack’ and notice how your face moves; a smile is born.  The physical action of producing a smile has deep affects on chemical production in the body.  The smile may be fleeting and with practice, (I have tried) you can say quack while maintaining a Monday morning frown!

The comedian continued, we all know that when we see someone smile the natural thing is to smile back,  lots of smiles in the crowd creates a good feeling; his task gets easier.  This is where the science ended, make people in a crowd, group or audience smile and the atmosphere rises; but is there more to this?

Take a look at Ron Gutman’s TED talk on The Hidden Power of Smiling for more information such as how one smile can create as much ‘good feeling hormone’ as 2,000 bars of chocolate or a gift of £ 16,000.  Never mind how smiling can increase life span, reduce blood pressure and make you appear more friendly.

The French psychologist Émile Coué is closely associated with auto suggestion, he is credited with crafting the phrase, ‘Every day, in every way, I’m getting better and better’.  A self proclamation to feed one’s own self worth; to be repeated up to 20 times per day, possibly while looking in the mirror.  For a comedy take on this check out Steve Coogan’s comic creation Gareth Cheeseman here on Youtube.

There is a cautionary note to sound regards this type of self proclamation – see The Trap of Auto Suggestion.

 

Tests

Amy Cuddy an American social psychologist presented a highly recommended TED talk on her research into poses and chemical responses; here I skip to some enlightening and useful results from her research.

Using controlled blind trials Amy Cuddy’s research showed that we can change our production of testosterone and cortisol through posture.  In high power people the rise in testosterone is as much as 20%, while the fall in cortisol larger at 25%.  This provides an immensely useful insight into how we can manage our testosterone and cortisol production for better outcomes.

These results were achieved following a mere two minutes adopting a certain pose.  Levels of testosterone and cortisol were tested in saliva samples before and after.

So yes, it seems there is more going on than the comedian (again sorry, name escapes me) had thought.  The quack smile is likely helping adjust the chemical balance of testosterone and cortisol to a happier state.

 

Time to Power Pose

You surely saw this coming…. here are steps guiding you to a confidence and mood boosting Power Pose.  My preference is always standing but sitting works to so here are two sets of instructions.  You can listen to the audio guide below – either with of without bird song during the two minute pose.  Or click one of the links to download for offline listening; mp3 download will start automatically.

Click to Download Power Pose WITH Bird Song

Click to Download WITHOUT Bird Song

 

Stream Power Pose with Bird Song

 

Stream Power Pose without Bird Song

 

STANDING

  1. Find yourself a space where you won’t be pushed out of the way; initally at least you probably want a private space. A clockroom cubicle can work!
  2. Stand with your feet a little wider than your hips, legs straight.
  3. Straighten your back
  4. Shoulders back
  5. Look straight ahead, then raise your chin slightly
  6. Stretch your arms out to your sides or upwards (ceiling permitting).  Your arms and legs form an X shape
  7. Bring hands down onto your hips, fingers forward, thumbs back *
  8. Keeping your head elevated push your hips forward slightly with your hands
  9. Take a deep breath and puff out your chest, release breath and breathe normally.
  10. Complete the pose with a broad smile; make sure the edges of your mouth rise up; you may feel a change around your cheek bones – This has been labelled the Wonder Woman Pose
  11. Hold for 2 minutes, you can relax the smile to be comfortable
  12. Carry on with day in an elevated fashion

*some people prefer to keep their hands in the air, that’s fine.  And a subset of these people have said they like to close their hands into a fist; if you choose to clench your fists tightly only do so for a short period.

SEATED

  1. Sit with your feet out in front and both flat on the ground
  2. Be sure you are sitting straight, not off to one side
  3. Arch your back, so that your chest raises
  4. Raise chin a little
  5. Raise hands into the air, arms straight
  6. Lower arms outwards to form a V shape
  7. Bring hands to back of head, fingers straight and overlapping or interlocked
  8. Take a deep breath and puff out your chest, release breath and breathe normally
  9. Complete the pose with a broad smile; make sure the edges of your mouth rise up; you may feel a change around your cheek bones
  10. Hold for 2 minutes, you can relax the smile to be comfortable
  11. Carry on with day in an elevated fashion

Sound a little technical?  After a couple of Poses it becomes routine.

 

When to Power Pose

In short, anytime!  When would it not be advantageous to up your game?  In practice you know instinctively when a boost would be appropriate,  be sure to allow enough time in your schedule for a Pose.  Power Poses do not respond well to being rushed so avoid Thin Slicing your time for best results.

 

And the Flip Side

Take a look at passers by, do this at home if you live with others.  Notice their posture, are they stood up straight, is their chin slightly elevated; do they look energised?

In the knowledge of Amy Cuddy’s positive results, it is not surprising to hear that when tested more negative closed postures had the opposite effect on testosterone and cortisol production.  Hunkering down in a closed posture raised cortisol and reduced testosterone; also as tested in saliva samples.

Think of a time now when you feel threatened, perhaps entering a meeting or class late; after everyone else is sat down.  How do you enter the room?  I don’t want to stereotype anyone so I’ll make it personal!  If I am late to arrive to an event (rare) and from outside a closed door can hear others have started I may feel a awkward about going in.  As I push the door open I will typically be head down, a little hunched over, maybe give a meagre wave of sorry to the speaker and mouth ‘sorry’.  But who am I doing this for?

Being hunched over as I attempt some kind of stealth manoeuvre is close to pointless, I can’t make myself so small that no one notices me, sure I may look contrite; but at what cost?  Turns out I am probably just serving to make myself feel worse.  And now likely to trip over making an even bigger disturbance; although this could be humorous.

So what does this tell you about feeling negative and remaining so.  Physical changes are almost always easier than psychological changes, so when you find yourself feeling low take a pose and break the cycle in a good way.

Amy Cuddy also gives a tip about having pictures of family, pets and favourite places around your workplace or desk; raise them up.  Make it so that to view that special picture you need to lift your chin; you can get an even bigger boost from a look at your partner or children.

And, for a good example of a negative posture look for someone hunched over their smart phone!

 

Power Pose Summary

In this post we have considered results from Amy Cuddy’s research and highlighted the improvements you can stimulate to your chemical balance by adapting your posture.  This is something of a no brainer, improve your posture, improve your mood and raise you game.

 

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