Beyond Power-Posing:

taking up space - from the inside out


If you did not attend the live workshops, please watch the videos in order, as they build on each other. Feel free to contact me with any questions.

Video 1

  • Introduction
  • Focus: How much space are you taking up (quantity), and how are you doing that (quality)?
  • Purpose: Expand options for taking up space in order to feel, look, and be more confident and powerful.

Video 2

  • What are you doing habitually?
  • Becoming aware of how you take up space
  • The anatomy of confidence and power

Key takeaways: 

  • Confidence and power begin with a stable and comfortable base in the body.
  • We are often woefully unaware of our posture.
  • When we don’t pay attention, we frequently hold our body in ways that are uncomfortable and not sustainable.
  • Our postural habits are less useful than we may think, and they may even be counterproductive in important situations.
  • Pay attention to where and how you place your feet, knees, pelvis, spine, arms, shoulders, and head!

Video 3

  • Power Posing - background
  • "High Power" and "Low Power" postures
  • Taking up space - quantity vs. quality

Key takeaways: 

  • When we “smallify”, we feel, look, and are less confident and powerful.
  • Big shapes (1) may not have the desired effect of increasing felt, perceived, and actual confidence and power, and (2) may be socially not acceptable or appropriate.
  • Standing or sitting in a “high power” pose may be perceived as arrogant, aggressive, forced, unnatural, overcompensating for lack of real confidence and power, or being disconnected and uninterested.
  • “High power” poses may be useful when privately preparing for a challenging situation, but any positive effects may not last long enough. We need more practical and accessible ways to boost our confidence in everyday situations.
  • Postures such as “Wonder Woman” or “Victory Stance” do have value for (1) gaining insight and (2) counteracting the tendency to shrink through practicing a different way of being in the body.
  • Simply taking up more space by arranging your body parts into a bigger shape will likely NOT make you feel and look more confident and powerful.

Amy Cuddy's TED Talk on power posing

Video 4

  • Power Sitting
  • Centering
  • Testing common postural features

Key takeaways: 

  • Power Sitting + Centering = small power pose with big impact!
  • Our posture affects how we feel, what we signal to the person in front of us, and how quickly and easily we can respond.
  • Taking up space is not just about quantity (how much), but about quality (how).
  • Small adjustments can have a big impact, and sometimes small adjustments are all that’s needed.
  • You don’t need a big shape or expend a lot of effort to feel, look, and be confident and powerful. Softening and relaxing are more effective than excessive effort.
  • You can deliberately use your posture to support how you want to feel, what you want to do, and what you want to signal to the people around you.

Video 5

  • Being expansive from the inside out: intention, breathing & awareness
  • “Magic Pen” and “Raising by Halves” exercises (courtesy of Paul Linden)
  • Intention in the body and in movement

Key takeaways: 

  • “Intention” is the desire to move through space with an intensity, in a direction, with a shape, toward a goal.
  • Intention or desire is the almost silent beginning of movement.
  • When our intention is clear, our action based on that intention becomes smoother and easier.
  • The intention or desire to take up less space (get smaller) or take up more space (get bigger) is a series of subtle actions in the body; we DO those intentions in the body.
  • When our intentions and our attempted actions are not aligned, i.e. when we really want one thing (we do one intention in our body) and then ask our body to do the opposite, our bodymind becomes conflicted and confused, which makes movement effortful and difficult – perhaps even impossible.
  • On the other hand, when our intentions are aligned with our attempted actions, those actions become more accessible, easier, and smoother. When we really want something and then ask our body to do that, these congruent instructions to our bodymind make our movement more comfortable, relaxed and natural.

Video 6

  • Taking up less space
  • “Getting smaller” vs “smallifying” – quantity vs quality
  • “Share Your Seat” exercise

Key takeaways: 

  • Taking up less space is not always and automatically “bad” – it can be useful and even necessary.
  • “Getting smaller” means physically taking up less space (reducing the quantity of physical space being occupied) in one or more dimensions (height, width, depth, and/or time).
  • “Smallifying” means contracting or collapsing your posture, breathing, and/or attention. This describes a quality or “flavor” of taking up space (in whatever quantity).
  • It is common for people to smallify when taking up less space, but this is neither necessary nor useful. Smallifying feels uncomfortable and impairs our ability to speak and to move.
  • Taking up less space while being open and relaxed (“bigifying”) works better: We are more comfortable; we are able to speak and move with more confidence and ease; we feel more empowered to consider and address the wellbeing of everybody involved – including our own; and we realize that if we all take up space in a relaxed way, there is enough room for everyone.

Video 7

  • Taking up more space
  • “Getting bigger” vs. “bigifying” – quantity vs quality
  • “Victory Pose”

Key takeaways: 

  • Taking up more space is not always and automatically “good” – it can be counterproductive or even harmful.
  • “Getting bigger” means physically taking up more space (increasing the quantity of space being occupied) in one or more dimensions (height, width, depth, and/or time).
  • “Bigifying” means opening and relaxing your body. This describes a quality or “flavor” of taking up space (in whatever quantity).
  • When you take up more space while smallifying (being tense and contracted), you waste muscular effort, and you cannot speak or move well.
  • On the other hand, when you take up more space while bigifying (opening your whole body, softening and relaxing), that’s a more useful flavor of expansiveness: it takes less effort, and you can speak and move more easily and effectively.
  • Regardless of how much (or how little) physical space you occupy, if you want to look, feel, and be more confident and powerful, bigifying works better than smallifying.

Video 8

  • “Six Directions Breathing” exercise (courtesy of Paul Linden)
  • Introduction
  • Guided practice

Video 9

  • Practice suggestions
  • Practical applications of Six Directions Breathing

Key takeaways: 

  • Practice - even if only a few breaths at a time, or for a few minutes.
  • Spend extra attention and practice time in those areas of the body and directions of breathing that are unclear or confusing.
  • If you find hand movements, words, and imagery helpful, use them. Experiment, and have fun!
  • Be patient and be kind to yourself.
  • Enjoy the growing sensation of symmetrical, radiant expansiveness!