Body language can tell us a lot about someone. You can physically see when someone is sad, attentive, bored, exhausted, excited, or stressed. When I lead yoga teacher training programs, commonality in beginner teachers is physical presence within the classroom. Nerves and frustrations manifest through grasped hands, hunched shoulders, and quick pacing. When these ticks are brought to their attention, their bodies change to possess taller and relaxed posture, grounded stances, and an increased confidence. It's as though a shift in the physical created a shift in the mental.
Last weekend I went skiing. I've only been a few times in my life. As I would go down the steep slopes, my heart raced, I stopped breathing, and I put every move and thought into not hitting small children or falling and breaking my bones. As I went down my first blue run, I found myself holding up the power stance 'v' with my poles in hand as I slid into the bottom to meet my husband. For the first time all weekend, I replaced my fear with a confident smile and stance.
You see it all the time: athletes throw their arms in the air in a giant 'V' expressing their excitement and victory. This power stance is one of the biggest physical gestures that humans can make in our bodies.
On the way home, I happened to listen to TedTalks Radio Hour headlining communication and language. Amy J.C. Cuddy mentioned that when we make our bodies big, let's say in a big V , hormones are released that allow us to feel stronger, powerful, and confident.
I immediately had a light-bulb moment. When we do yoga for example, we are asked to move our bodies in big shapes that we do not do frequently in our daily lives. After class we feel open, strong, sweaty, good, and blissed out.
Like many others, I have always struggled with confidence. Fear can be a powerful barrier that holds us back from reaching our goals. When I was terrified skiing down the mountain, my body tensed up and I lost ability to breathe and stay focused. The moment that I let my physical body loosen and embody confidence, I finally felt freedom and happiness.
Where can we apply this? Maybe you are struggling with nerves in your job interviews. Find a power stance, or sit up taller and make intentional eye contact. Are you nervous public speaking in the classroom, meeting, presentation, or for an audition somewhere ( I can relate!) Practice your stance by yourself. Close your eyes and take note of how it feels to sit up taller, bring more mindfulness into your breath, and acknowledge your own strength. Notice how you feel physically and energetically. This is how we can bring the incredible power we feel on the mat, off the mat and into our more challenging and scary situations. Please remember...
You are strong. You are confident. You are powerful.