Posture, Expression, and Experience

Like Father Like Son Like Grandfather

You engrain and intertwine the ways you move and posture yourselves with the ways you express and experience your life.  This affects how others perceive you, and how you perceive yourself.

A common reason people learn the Alexander Technique is to improve posture.

What's interesting is that at some point in learning to improve you posture, you might end up gaining insight into the relationship between your postures and how others perceive you:  It can be a surprising moment when you become acutely aware of how your own postures and movements are so visible to others, yet much less so to yourself.

What's really interesting though is that your postures and movement go beyond how others see you; your movements and postures appear to influence how you see yourself.  In fact, they may influence your self-perceived levels of energy, the types of memories you recall, and the extent to which you feel assertive and powerful in stressful situations.

"Professor of Health Education Erik Peper found that simply choosing to alter body posture to a more upright position can improve mood and energy levels.” He argues that it’s not just the brain that influences the body, but the body that influences the brain; it's a 'two way street'.1 

For instance, in one study found that walking in a slumped manner “... actually increased feelings of depression and loneliness, and decreased subjective feeling of energy”,  but by changing postures subjects could experience greater levels of energy.2

Sitting Texting

This relationship goes even deeper in that postures may actually affect the kinds of memories you think of.  A study in 2009 found that “...posture significantly affects the recall of positive or negative memories... when sitting in a collapsed position and looking downward, it was much easier (for people) to recall hopeless, helpless, powerless, and negative memories...”

Clara Shih

Clara Shih

The opposite was true when people sat more upright and looked upwards, from which position, ‘... it was difficult and for many almost impossible to recall hopeless, helpless, powerless, and negative memories and easier to recall empowering, positive...” ones.2,3 

In her 2012 Ted Talk, researcher Amy Cuddy described how the relationship between movement, posture, and self-expression is a fundamental factor that shapes who you are. She found that by taking on empowering movements and postures you can actually make yourself feel more powerful and empowered, which over time, can become part of how you go about your life.4

Like a 'who came first, the chicken or the egg?' scenario it seems postures are not only positions that happen after something happens, but also positions from which different kinds of feeling and memories arise.