You may be aware of Amy Cuddy’s incredible Ted Talk, during which she shared her insights on how posture changes our hormone levels. She’s a social scientist from Harvard, and she talks to the world about “power posing.”
Her idea: when you feel more personally powerful, you become more present; your performance, confidence and engagement with others improve. You’ll become better connected with your own thoughts and feelings, and you’ll more effectively synch up with the thoughts and feelings of others.
Let’s also consider it from the outside in: in today’s digital world, the image we present is constantly being accessed and judged. With so much of our lives given over to holding a phone and other devices, we may not notice that we are
constantly hunching over. Not a good look.
Women in particular: if you have boobs and you are hunching over your phone, the area between your neck and your stomach is going to look like one big lump. What’s missing is your definition, your “longness.” (Here’s a tip for you while we’re on the subject: raise up your phone higher to the face so that your neck is not down and your back is not hunched.)
Through my career during photo shoots, I have noticed that the photos that always tend to get chosen are the photos that show the models in an almost exaggerated posture, where they are stretching themselves to create a bigger-than- life illusion. When I work with celebrities, I make sure that they give a lot of thought and practice to posture. With this skill mastered, they can walk the red carpet taller and wider, creating a more confident presence essentially taking over the room.
You want a great photo? Give yourself some neck. Your neck and your head should align with your shoulders. This could also avoid the dreaded double chin. When you walk into a room, your success is automatically gaged by two factors: your clothing and your posture. Try it yourself: next time you are in a crowded room, find the person who seems to be the most successful and attractive. It’s usually the person with straight posture, that man or woman whose eyes are never fixed on the floor, who looks you in the eye while standing up completely straight. Opening up your shoulders and walking straight and tall into a room can convey a lot of confidence. It makes you feel like you are more in control – and you are.
Work on it! Most all people with terrific posture really work at it, be it with a personal trainer, a yoga instructor, stretching exercises, and most importantly of all, constant practice.
No one works harder on posture than I do. I’ve collaborated with a personal trainer and a physical therapist to design a complete program to address my posture.
The goal: to strengthen the muscles in my back and in my core. I’m not at all implying that posture is a superficial benefit. Without good posture, you cannot be physically fit. By constantly practicing good posture, you give your body health advantages:
- Less fatigue and strain on your ligaments
- Proper alignment of your bones
- Your vital organs are in the right position and can function at peak efficiency
- More normal functioning of the nervous system.
I like the tips for good posture offered by The American Chiropractic Association:
- Bear your weight primarily on the balls of your feet.
- Keep your knees slightly bent.
- Keep your feet about shoulder-width apart.
- Let your arms hang naturally down the sides of your body.
- Stand straight and tall with your shoulders pulled backward.
- Tuck your stomach in.
- Keep your head level. Your earlobes should be in line with your shoulders. Don’t push your head forward, backward or to the side
- Shift your weight from your toes to your heels. If you have to stand for a long time, shift your weight from one foot to the other.
You cannot be physically fit if your posture is not correct. Your body won’t be pulling correctly in order to build muscle from the right places. Again, this is not easily learned. You really have to work at it. At first, you’re going to regress back to your old habits, but with time and constant practice, you and your posture will improve.
No more slouching! Get to work!