In part one I looked at how poor posture and body mechanics decrease the effectiveness of our Hapkido techniques and expose us to potential injury and pain.  This understanding is key to our physical wellbeing, but posture also has a significant effect on our mental wellbeing.

A study conducted in 1988, for instance, showed that when subjects held a pen in their mouth in a way that activated the muscles typically associated with smiling, they reported more intense humour responses to cartoons than when these muscles were inhibited.

In another study done in 2009 researchers looked at how posture affected self-confidence.  Participants were divided into two groups and asked to think and write down their best or worst qualities in relation to a job application.  The first group sat with their back erect and chest out (confident posture), while the second group were asked to slouch forward with their back curved (doubtful posture). Researchers found that the posture a participant held had a significant impact on the confidence with which they held their thoughts.

These are just two examples of research into how the body can affect the mind, but there’s a whole host of studies that show similar results:

  • A study in 2004  found that making a fist, increased assertiveness and hope for power in men, but decreased hope for power in women.
  • Further research has shown that individuals were more likely to recognize positive adjectives if they were nodding, and negative adjectives if they shook their head.
  • And another study showed that participants were more likely to rate an ideograph positively if presented during arm flexion rather than arm extension.

All this research makes it clear that noticing our postures, the bodily habits and movement patterns we perform daily, can provide us with both an insight into our mental state and also an opportunity to positively influence our self-confidence, stress levels and general quality of life.

Practices like Ki Meditation and Hapkido training help us to become more aware of our bodies and also help us to practice positive movements and postures.  It’s no wonder we feel good when we come to class.

Posture, power and performance (part two)