TC 294: Posture, Technology, Starfish!

TC 294: Posture, Technology, Starfish!

In the Cafe Book Club we’re reviewing Presence: Bringing Your Boldest Self to Your Biggest Challenges by Amy Cuddy, PhD, Social Psychologist and Associate Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School.

In this week’s podcast host Robin Masiewicz and her guests discuss posture, the benefits of Yoga and dance positions, and what research tells us about high- and low-power poses.


Amy has her arms raised in victory, or what some refer to as the “Starfish” pose.

Let your body tell you you’re powerful and deserving, and you become more present, enthusiastic, and authentically yourself.
-Amy Cuddy

iHunch  – ruins your posture and can affect your mood

Amy Cuddy discusses the effects of constantly hunching over a mobile device in this article. Research shows it can not only ruin your posture, but can have a negative effect on you psychologically. “Technology is transforming how we hold ourselves, contorting our bodies into what the New Zealand physiotherapist Steve August calls the iHunch. I’ve also heard people call it text neck, and in my work I sometimes refer to it as iPosture.”  And as we’ve seen holding a particular posture can have either a positive or negative effect on us. The iHunch effect is definitely negative.

Amy’s recommends “Keep your head up and shoulders back when looking at your phone, even if that means holding it at eye level. You can also try stretching and massaging the two muscle groups that are involved in the iHunch — those between the shoulder blades and the ones along the sides of the neck. This helps reduce scarring and restores elasticity.”

“Finally, the next time you reach for your phone, remember that it induces slouching, and slouching changes your mood, your memory and even your behavior. Your physical posture sculpts your psychological posture, and could be the key to a happier mood and greater self-confidence.”

The article  Let go of the iHunch: Improve Your Posture Yoga Practice provides a series of exercises to help strengthen your muscles and counteract the effects of iHunch.


Your Mother was Right. Sit up straight!

This cartoon explains how important it is to have good posture.

This study concludes “Adopting an upright seated posture in the face of stress can maintain self-esteem, reduce negative mood, and increase positive mood compared to a slumped posture. Furthermore, sitting upright increases rate of speech and reduces self-focus. Sitting upright may be a simple behavioral strategy to help build resilience to stress. The research is consistent with embodied cognition theories that muscular and autonomic states influence emotional responding.”

Guest Amy Frost mention a yoga pose known as “Cobra”. You can see how this pose is done in the video below. As we discussed in our last couple of episodes yoga has been shown to have a very positive impact on individuals suffering from Post Traumatic Stress.

Dance and Body Language

Certain positions in dance are similar to power poses. They can evoke grace and power at the same time.


As a reminder, Robin describes several of the High Power and Low Power poses.

Examples of High Power Poses

High Power Poses

Examples of Low Power Poses

Low Power Poses

Big Ideas from Presence

  • Presence – Attuned and expressing your personal power
  • Self-Affirmation Theory – You’re Awesome!
  • Priming and Nudges – Build your personal power
  • Expand your Body – to expand your personal power
  • iHunch – Hunching over your phone diminishes your power
  • “I’m Excited!” – Reframe feelings of fear or nervousness as excitement
  • Boldest Version of You – Move like that. Today.

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