Can These Yoga Poses Make You Powerful?

One of my all time favorite TED Talks (see below) is about how your body language affects your interactions with other people and your general outlook on life. Dr. Amy Cuddy, a social psychologist, describes the importance of our body language (also called non-verbal behavior) and how it affects they way other people judge us. And it isn’t just other people paying attention to our posture- we are as well. Our body language affects us from our thoughts to our physiology. Basically, powerful pose= powerful mindset.

Basically, powerful pose= powerful mindset.

Primates use body language to establish social roles. For example, a more dominant individual interested in clarifying their social power may make themselves “look big” or take up space (important to note that many animals do this, -even in situations where they want to scare something away). Humans are primates (specifically hairless apes) and also follow this power posture pattern: opening up and taking up space when you are feeling powerful, and getting smaller when feel less powerful.


Jamie, a resident at Chimpanzee Sanctuary NW.

Want to see if this power pose business works for you?  Try out the sequence below, and let your body change your mind!

Yoga Power Pose Flow

Hold each pose for 15 to 60 seconds (tiny tweaks lead to big changes) 6 full inhales and exhales.

Mountain Pose (Tadasana)

  • Stand at the top of our mat, feet hip-width distance apart. Press your feet into the ground and feel stable- lift your toes to test your balance and to connect with the ground.
  • Place your arms down by your side, palms facing forward, fingers extended.
  • Roll your shoulders back and down, allowing your chest to open.
  • Engage your abdominals.
  • Gaze forward and lift your chin.
  • Relax your face and focus on your breath.



Standing “T”

  • Raise your hands out to a “T” position, and imagine your arms are being pulled in opposite directions.
  • Press into the large toe mound of you foot
  • Allow your shoulders to release down your back.



Warrior I (Virabhadrasana I)

  • Step your left foot back and turn your toes out to a 45-degree angle. Make sure you are pressing into the outside of your left foot- adjust your stance as needed.
  • Bend the front right knee and point your hips forward.
  • Engage your abdominals
  • Inhale and bring your hands up and overhead, extended your arms.
  • Gaze upward in between your hands or forward.



Warrior II (Virabhadrasana II)

  • Allow your left (back) foot to turn out to 90-degrees, toes facing the long edge of your mat. Maintain the bend in your front knee and make sure your front heel is in line with the arch or heel of the back foot.
  • Tuck your tailbone, bringing your pelvis forward.
  • Roll your shoulders down your back and extend your hands out to a “T” position. Keep your arms active- imagine two people are holding your hands pulling you in either direction.
  • Look over your right (front) middle fingers.
  • Keep you chest open and bend deeper into the front knee.


Star Pose (Trikonasana)

  • Turn both feet toward the long edge of the mat, toes facing forward. Step your feet wide
  • Keep tailbone tucked and abdominals engaged.
  • Extend arms overhead and spread your fingers
  • Allow chest to open and roll shoulders down your back.
  • Say “I am powerful” 3 times (optional).



Do the other side!

Return to Warrior II, on the other side (left if you began with right), moving into Warrior I, “T” position and back to mountain pose.


Try this sequence when you wake up or any time you need a power boost. Observe how these poses are affecting you- do you fee more powerful?


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