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Posture Actually Changes Your Physiology

By: Sensei Avi Rokah 8th Dan

In Karate we know how important posture is for Effective Movement, and that posture has psychological effect as well.

When In good posture, it is easy to control body dynamics, transfer ground reaction forces through body center to technique, all muscles are in optimal length for function, and have full potential for contraction/expansion.

In good posture one can be more relaxed, perceived the whole picture rather than being stuck in details and be more mentally responsive and flexible.

A good or bad posture influences how people perceive you and how you perceive yourself. We know that a posture shows many things about a person, but does it work the other way? can improving posture affect your personality?

A new study demonstrates that a good posture, which is expansive rather than contractive, cause physiological and hormonal beneficial changes as well.

Humans and other animals express power through open, expansive postures, and they express powerlessness through closed, contractive postures.

But can these postures actually cause power?

The results of this study confirmed the prediction that being in postures that are expansive and open would cause neuroendocrine and behavioral changes for both male and female participants.

High-power posers experienced elevations in testosterone, which increases confidence and dominance, decreases in cortisol (stress hormone) and therefore response to stress more calmly, and increased feelings of power and tolerance for risk.

People who had contractive postures exhibited the opposite pattern.

In short, posing in displays of power caused advantaged and adaptive psychological, physiological, and behavioral changes.

These findings suggest that embodiment extends beyond mere thinking and feeling, to physiology and subsequent behavioral choices.

The study shows that being in open, power postures for even 2 minutes, embody power and instantly cause one to be more powerful, it causes real-world, actionable implications.

Power determines greater access to resources (de Waal, 1998; Keltner, Gruenfeld, & Anderson, 2003); higher levels of control over a person’s own body, mind, and positive feelings (Keltner et al., 2003); and enhanced cognitive function (Smith, Jostmann, Galinsky, & van Dijk, 2008).

Powerful individuals (compared with powerless individuals) demonstrate greater willingness to engage in action (Galinsky, Gruenfeld, & Magee, 2003; Keltner et al., 2003) and often show increased risk-taking behavior. (e.g., Anderson & Galinsky, 2006).

The neuroendocrine profiles of the powerful differentiate them from the powerless, on two key hormones—testosterone and cortisol.

In humans and other animals, testosterone levels both reflect and reinforce dis-positional and situational status and dominance; internal and external cues cause testosterone to rise, increasing dominant behaviors, and these behaviors can elevate testosterone even further (Archer, 2006; Mazur)

Next time you go to karate class, treat Your Posture even more carefully.


Sensei Avi Rokah 8th dan, is one of our Master Senseis who we invite to the Dojo every year to Grade our High ranking Karate Students and give Seminars. We are very grateful to be able to call him our Sensei. Sensei Rokah is a World Champion in Kumite, the head of the World Budo Karate Association, and has a Dojo in Los Angeles, CA. You can also read more of his Karate Articles on his website.

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