“When we stop looking after our own posture, we are abandoning ourselves.” -Amy Cuddy
Your posture is you. It expresses where you’ve been, where you are, and how you’ll move into the future. It’s how you show up in the world. It both shapes how you act and react with the world and is shaped by how you act and react with the world. It is the embodiment of your life’s story. It is the foundation for your future. It colors your present moment.
So what does your posture say about you and how you’re moving through the world? Does it say you’re carrying burdens or that you’ve lost hope? Does it say you’re braced and ready to rumble, ready to fight with life? Do you move through life with tension and stress or do you flow through life with strength and grace?
“What I most want you to understand is that your body is continuously and convincingly sending messages to your brain, and you get to control the content of those messages.” -Amy Cuddy
Whatever your posture currently says about you, whatever messages your body is sending to your brain, you do have the power to change it. If you want to. Wherever you are in life, whatever you’ve been through in life, you can begin creating positive shifts to become more of who you were born to be. To become more authentically you. And here’s the thing, you were born to be awesome. You were born to make your own unique and beautiful contributions to the world. You were born to show up and irradiate the world with your light. You were born to move through the world with power and with joy.
But life happens. Stress happens. Adulting happens. And life’s stresses can have a negative affect on us. Our bodies can fill with tension and so can our minds. As a result, our posture can go into lockdown making it difficult to move through life with grace. We grow rigid. We lose our connection to our vitality, our authenticity and our joy. We get aches. We get pains. We feel beat up and broken down. Our bodies start telling our brains that life sucks and our brains start to believe it.
“A mountain of evidence shows that our bodies are pushing, shaping, even leading our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. That the body affects the mind is, it's fair to say, incontestable. And it's doing so in ways that either facilitate or impede our ability to bring our authentic best selves to our biggest challenges.” -Amy Cuddy
But we don’t have to stay stuck in that place. We can begin letting go of tension that bogs us down and holds us back from wholeheartedly engaging with life. And the power to begin creating positive shifts lies within each of us. Each of us can make positive shifts happen by simply working with our posture.
And to do this you can try thinking yourself into better posture by using external cues to line up anatomical points in order to sit and stand up straighter. And yes, you’ll probably see some good shifts by using the thinking approach. But the truth is, posture isn’t meant to be a position you cognitively hold your body in. That’s way too forced and contrived. Posture is designed to be much more innate and graced than that.
A more powerful way to nurture your posture, to nurture you, is to work on it from the inside out. Because the posture that reflects you, the posture that is you, is rooted deeply in reflex. It is a reflex. And it is wired into you. It is wired into your nervous system and your vestibular system. It is how you move through life and interact with life. Your reflex of posture is a part of your awesome human design.
And your posture is meant to be dynamic, adaptable, and resilient, just like you’re designed to be. And by working with your postural reflex you can create authentically powerful and positive shifts. You can begin reclaiming your authentic best self, the original you. And it all begins by reclaiming the promise of restoration that lives in movement.
“Posture not only shapes the way we feel, it also shapes the way we think about ourselves—from our self-descriptions to the certainty and comfort with which we hold them. And those self-concepts can either facilitate or hinder our ability to connect with others, to perform our jobs, and, more simply, to be present.” -Amy Cuddy
Because each and every one of us was born to move. Movement is a part of our awesome design. And the promise, the truth is, that by engaging in simple movements, the movement patterns we were born to do, each of us can begin to restore our posture. We can begin to let go of tension. We can begin to get our bodies sending messages of hope and love to our brains and our brains sending messages of hope and love to our bodies. We can begin to reconnect to the resilience, strength, and vitality of who we were born to be.
In the Original Strength System we call these innate movement patterns, resets. And each reset emanates from the three pillars of human movement; diaphragmatic breathing, activating the vestibular system, and engaging in contralateral or midline crossing patterns. These resets are hard wired into our nervous systems. And when we engage in these resets, it allows us to Press RESET on our original operating system, our nervous system, in order to nourish our brains and bodies, hone our reflexive strength(yes, strength is also a reflex), and optimize our reflexive posture.
And resets can meet you wherever your body is. Pressing RESET helps to clear the mind of tension so you can show up more wholly for life. So you can be more present for life. So you can renew and reclaim the promise of who you were born to be. So you can more fully express who you are and reconnect to your personal power.
“The way you carry yourself is a source of personal power—the kind of power that is the key to presence. It’s the key that allows you to unlock yourself—your abilities, your creativity, your courage, and even your generosity. It doesn’t give you skills or talents you don’t have; it helps you to share the ones you do have. It doesn’t make you smarter or better informed; it makes you more resilient and open. It doesn’t change who you are; it allows you to be who you are.” -Amy Cuddy
And here’s one way you can simply and easily begin to shift your posture. To shift you.
Stand and place your hands on your hips like a superhero. With the tip of your tongue resting on the roof of your mouth exhale easily and fully without force. Then listen for your body to say “breathe in” (inhalation is a reflex). Breathe in nasally allowing your inhalation reflex to fill your airways and lungs. Be sure the tip of your tongue is on the roof of your mouth.
Once you’ve taken in a generous inhale begin to slowly and quietly exhale through your nose. Repeat as you move through your day. And know that with each breath like this that you take you are reclaiming the promise of you. You are restoring your posture. You are reclaiming more of your authentic and best self so you’ll be more able to fully show up for life. And all of life, the entire world gets better when you do.
*Amy Cuddy, PhD is a social psychologist who has extensively studied the postural feedback effect (formerly known as ‘power poses’). She is the author of, Presence: Bringing Your Boldest Self to Your Biggest Challenges. For more on Amy Cuddy click here.
an earlier version of Posture and You appeared on the Original Strength website here