RESOURCES

YOGA, POWER AND RECOVERY

When it comes to nonverbal behavior, the conversation is usually about the messages we send to and receive from others. But what about those we send to ourselves? Amy Cuddy did a study around the strategy commonly referenced as “faking it until you make it.” She gave a powerful TED Talk about how our non-verbal behaviors govern how we think and feel about ourselves.

She found that powerful people tend to be more assertive, confident, optimistic, more abstract in thought, and more risk-taking. One of the ways she measured an internalized sense of power was through hormones. Physiologically speaking, when someone is feeling powerful this is associated with high testosterone levels and low cortisol levels. Essentially, power is a balance of dominance (as measured by high testosterone) and a limited stress response (as measured by lower cortisol levels). Think of classic pop-culture heroes like Indiana Jones and James Bond.

So how does this relate to yoga? Yoga is a physical practice that has been scientifically proven to reduce stress, and increase the body and the mind’s ability to stay calm and endure high-stress situations. On a physiological level, stress increases cortisol production, which then inhibits the production of testosterone. Hence, more yoga leads to less stress, which means more testosterone production. Psychologically, Amy’s research shows that standing in high-power poses for two minutes elevates one’s confidence and creativity and thus performance in the task that follows. By continuously placing the body into a series of power poses, this yoga flow is ultimately internalized and integrated into one’s sense of self.

Recovery is about building a lifestyle that reflects the confident, successful, proactive badass you want to be, even when it feels awkward and uncomfortable. So the next time you walk into a job interview, don’t waste more time anxiously reviewing your notes. Use the elevator ride as an opportunity for a quick warrior pose, take a goddess pose on the subway, or a mountain pose in the waiting room. After all, as Amy so aptly put it, “our bodies change our mind, our mind changes our behaviors and our behaviors change our outcomes−don’t fake it till you make it−fake it until you become it.”

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