Amy Cuddy, Power Posing, and the Alexander Technique
Have you ever heard of Dr. Amy Cuddy? Have you seen her TED Talk on Power Posing? Dr. Cuddy is a social scientist and a professor at Harvard. Her TED Talk is the 2nd most viewed TED Talk ever with over 30 million views on the TED site and even more on YouTube. I had the great honor of hearing Dr. Cuddy speak last night at New Trier High School in Winnetka, IL. Here is what her research tells us:
When we expand ourselves, we increase testosterone and decrease cortisol. We feel more confident and more comfortable in our own skin. And we present ourselves to the world in a more authentic way. The act of expanding ourselves physically changes our brain chemistry, making us feel different on the inside. We begin to feel our own personal power and presence.
All during her talk I kept thinking, “That’s what the Alexander Technique does!” But more about that in a minute.
During her talk last night, Dr. Cuddy showed photographic examples of physical expansion in the animal kingdom, including an ape standing to full height and beating its chest, a peacock spreading its tail, and a cobra flaring its neck. Then she showed pictures of people from many cultures when they are celebrating a victory. In picture after picture people have thrown their arms up, lifted their faces, and opened their mouths. This is the outward sign of triumph, exultation, celebration. These are people who feel fully present, confident and powerful.
And what about people who don’t feel that way? What happens when a person feels insecure, powerless, anxious, fearful? That person gets smaller. She/he shrinks, pulls shoulders in, pulls knees together, looks down, crosses arms. And the research confirms that testosterone decreases and cortisol increases. We experience the chemical reactions of the fight/flight/freeze reflex.
Dr. Cuddy recommends that when you have an important event that you are anxious about, such as a job interview or a test, that you go in the bathroom and stand in a superhero pose for two minutes before you go into the stressful situation. Just two minutes in a power pose can shift your brain chemistry enough to help you feel calmer and more confident, resulting in a sense of authenticity and Presence (the title of her new book).
Dr. Cuddy actually jokes about how you shouldn’t do power poses actually DURING the interview.
But what if you could feel expanded without putting your hands on your hips and widening your stance unnaturally? What if you could carry the ability to do your own inner power pose any time you choose, in any situation, even in the middle of that job interview?
YOU CAN. This is what the Alexander Technique does for you.
The Alexander Technique helps you notice the ways that you tighten and make yourself smaller. Then it helps you to let go of that unnecessary tightening once you notice it, so that you feel taller, lighter, and freer. As you become better at expanding you begin to realize what caused you to tighten in the first place. And you learn tools that help you stop reacting by tightening. You then can take your full expansiveness and apply it to everything you do with a feeling of presence and power.
So get up and stand in your Wonder Woman or Superman pose for two minutes, and then call for an Alexander Technique appointment today!
Just found your site — love it!
Great blog post also – how fun to meet Dr. Cuddy in person!
Thanks, Laura. Great to hear from you! I’m looking forward to seeing you at NDEO in October.
It is worth noting that a recent study (mid 2015) totally failed to replicate Dr Cuddy’s results. In addition, aspects of the design of Dr Cuddy’s study have been criticised. Dr Cuddy’s work at this stage should be regarded as unproven theory, definitely not as fact.
Thanks for your comments. Yes, I have heard that there are some questions about Dr. Cuddy’s methodology. I am watching to see what happens with follow-up. However, that doesn’t change the fact that the Alexander Technique enables a person to gain a sense of expansiveness from the inside out.
Wonderful website Amanda, and so much clearly put information.