Power Postures and Writing the Body

Lisa Rizzo; photo by Marlene Samuels.

Lisa Rizzo demonstrates a power posture we learned at the AROHO Retreat during a talk by Jane Hammons. Read Lisa’s blog post, “Open the Door,” about an exercise Bhanu Khapil led. Photo by Marlene Samuels.

There was much talk at the AROHO Retreat about the physical world and how our sense of it comes to play in our writing. Page Lambert, who collects stories in nature, passed around deer claws and animal bones—including the pelvis of a porcupine—as symbols of how “we are sculpted from the earth.” She said, “The more we know the exterior world, the more we know our inner life.”

Janet Fitch said that she “writes from the neck down,” staying connected to her senses. We spend so much time in our heads when we write, but we filter our experiences through our bodies. Janet showed us how we can use sense impressions to build characters and landscapes.

Jane Hammons told us that when she writes she does physical movements “to find the verb” in her body. Sometimes by getting physical—for instance, standing up and making a slashing motion with our arms—we can release our resistance and see and hear our stories. It helps me to take a break from my computer every half an hour, to work while standing or dancing, and to go out for a walk or a run.

Jane told us about a Ted Talk she’d recently viewed, in which Harvard researcher Amy Cuddy shows how holding a power posture for two minutes a day can increase your confidence, so some of us spent the week walking around with our hands raised above our heads in the universal V for victory.

Cuddy’s research shows that we can change the way we feel and the way we’re perceived simply by changing our posture. Here’s her 20-minute Ted Talk, “Your body language shapes who you are.” I think you’re going to like it!

After I watched this video, it occurred to me that too much sitting at the computer is a physical caving in on myself, so now when I take my short break every half hour, I sometimes do a power posture … and when I stand up at my computer, I sometimes do a power posture … and when I finish writing a blog post I sometimes do a power posture….

I’m happy to report that power postures have been working well for me! Let me know how they work for you.


  1. Barbara, thanks for making me your cover “girl” for this post. I so love this power position that I’ve been doing it every morning before writing. I think it is working. I’ve also began having my middle school students do this.