So last week I was visiting Kripalu, a yoga center in the Berkshires. I was there completing an 11-month Positive Psychology certificate program with 200 other “happy” people from around the world. What I found the most fascinating about the program is the science behind many practices like journaling, gratitude and focusing on your strengths.
But what really caught my attention during this course was the research done by Amy Cuddy, a Harvard Business professor and Social Psychologist. She has one of the most popular TEDTalks and a new book out called Presence.
I’d heard snippets of her research about the success of adopting “power poses” before an interview to affect testosterone and cortisol levels, and your odds of success but had not fully appreciated the full gambit of her research.
The simple power poses she used in her work were simplified workplace versions of yoga. Could this FINALLY be the science behind why these poses work, why yoga works to make us walk, stand and move better, feel better and perform better? In essence, why it is that yoga allows us to step into our 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.”
The answer is YES. There has been significant research behind why yoga works in the past. It was yoga research. But this comes under a new heading…and this adds to the case.
I love this…but what I REALLY love was Amy Cuddy’s initial resistance to yoga as she “came clean” during her work to explore how trauma affects the body as part of Post Traumatic Stress.
“Before going on, I have to come clean. I’m not a yoga person. Until I really dug into the scientific literature on it I was skeptic.It wasn’t that I thought yoga was bad for people; it’s that I just couldn’t get on board with the idea that it was as good as its practitioners claimed.”
“But I am a scientist, and so now I have to eat my resistance, because the evidence that yoga yields positive psychological and physiological results is nearly impossible to refute. Since yoga-based interventions have moved into the medical mainstream, there have been hundreds–maybe thousands–of empirical studies describing its many health benefits from reducing blood pressure and cholesterol to easing chronic physical, emotional and social pain.
Is every result valid? Was every study well done? Probably not; that’s the nature of the scientific beast.”
“But I no longer see yoga as an overhyped trend. When done properly, it can be extraordinarily effective.”
That is no small claim for a researcher of her caliber…and it feels really good.
Hope you’ll watch the TEDTalk and strike a pose!