Inspiration and Reflection – Part Five

By Penny Boreham, Intake Manager

In this series of blogs – Inspiration and Reflection, members of staff at Khiron House are choosing and sharing the words of an inspiring thinker/writer/practitioner who has made an impact on them and encouraged them to reflect more deeply on the work they do.

Today our Yoga teacher, Anita Lewis, who is both a Yoga therapist and a Craniosacral therapist has chosen to share the words, in the form of a Ted talk, of Amy Cuddy, professor and researcher at Harvard Business School.

Professor Cuddy studies non verbal behaviour and her Ted talk is entitled “How your body shapes who you are” and encourages us to think deeply about what our body poses present and communicate to each other, and also how they affect the way we understand ourselves.

The link here takes you to this TED TALK:-

Professor Amy Cuddy TED TALK

Anita Lewis’ response: 

I wanted to share this TED talk as it offers simple, accessible methods that can potentially change how we feel and relate to our body and to the world around us. She introduces us to small changes in posture that can help increase our self confidence and encourage us on the path towards self care and loving kindness.

Age-old traditions incorporating mind-body-breath practices (such as yoga,tai chi, chi gong) recognize our potential for changing physiological states, self perception, and behavioral responses to external stimuli through simple changes of movement and breath.

In my own work and practice of yoga I have witnessed and experienced the possibility of shifting from highly anxious, fearful states to places of greater equanimity and ease through simple postural movement changes coupled with breath awareness.

Amy Cuddy’s research begins to unpack the dynamic interplay of body language, social engagement and physiological response in relation to our sense of self and the world around us.

I was curious about her simple power poses as they reminded me of many classical yoga postures that often enable people to feel and express inner strength, integration and calm.

Amy’s research outcomes felt familiar. Yoga affects the mind by working with the body. Movement affects neurological and hormonal regulation (such as heart rate/breathing) creating body- brain- body pathways of communication which enable shifts in emotional and psychological states of being.

Her talk also touched on the importance of facial expression in social interaction and nervous system regulation which ties in with the extraordinary and inspirational work of Stephen Porges and ‘The Polyvagal Theory’.  This theory helps explain how our individual nervous systems influence, and are influenced by, the way we interact with others and has offered new perspectives on how we now understand the effects and treatment of trauma.

Psychiatrist and trauma specialist Bessel Van der Kolk summarises it beautifully:

“Porges helped us understand how dynamic our biological systems are and gave us an explanation why a kind face and a soothing tone of voice can dramatically alter the entire organisation of the human organism – that is how being seen and understood can help shift people out of disorganised and  fearful states … such a shift would ask us to cultivate interpersonal rhythms, nurture the capacity for people to use their voices and faces to regulate emotional states and explore various mind-body techniques that integrate visceral and emotional experiences.”

This was the fifth in a series of blogs in which the staff at Khiron House will choose and share the words of an inspiring thinker/writer/practitioner who has made an impact on them and has encouraged them to reflect more deeply on the work they are currently practicing.

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