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Yoga Poses

5 Power Poses

For Erica Rodefer Winters, yoga infuses strength and power into every area of her life. Here she lists her favorite power-boosting moves.

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Nothing makes me feel more empowered than my yoga practice. All I have to do is remember how weak, awkward, and uncomfortable I was when I showed up at my first yoga class, and I immediately start to feel capable of anything in the entire world. That’s why I unroll my mat any time I feel stuck in life—when I can’t find the words to express myself, when I’m overwhelmed with a to-do list that won’t quit, and especially when I’m feeling bad about myself.


It’s particularly important this time of year, when everyone is rampantly setting goals, making promises, and trying to change themselves. It’s easy to get caught up in the goals and how great things would be if only—forgetting how great things really are in the present moment. And when we don’t see immediate results from our effort to change, we can feel frustrated and even hopeless.

Thankfully, because of my yoga practice, I know that I have the power to change if I want to (even if it doesn’t happen exactly as I planned). I know that I have all the tools, knowledge, and patience to take things one step at a time to reach my goals—just the way I’ve learned difficult poses. More importantly, though, because of my yoga practice, I know that none of these things determine my value or worth. I know it’s not a big deal if I never get my feet to my head in a deep backbend. I can get all the same benefits from doing my own backbend, my way. And I’m OK with just being me—nothing is more powerful than that!

Here are a few poses that make me feel powerful.

Handstand When I first started taking yoga I couldn’t do a Handstand to save my life. Now I can balance for just half a second in the middle of the room. Sure, I lose my balance and fall more times than not. And the fact that I can laugh at myself and try again is just further evidence of how far I’ve come.

Arm balances When I first saw a picture of someone doing an arm balance, I was pretty sure it was a camera trick. It seemed impossible. And it’s not an exaggeration when I say it took me several years to actually feel my feet lift off the floor into my first Crane Pose. I remember that moment like it was yesterday, and every time I practice any arm balance I can’t help but feel that same sense of accomplishment and wonder. I still can’t believe I’m that strong!

Core stabilizers One thing I’ve been coming back to again and again during my asana practice is engaging my core in every single pose. I love how being mindful of my core can really increase my focus whether I’m practicing Tadasana or Navasana, and there’s something wonderfully poetic about the idea of moving from my center.

Warrior III All of the Warrior poses are empowering. For me, just hearing the word “warrior” throughout a yoga session has a powerful effect—and the fact that I’m taking the shape of a warrior makes it even more real. Warrior III feels particularly powerful for me because it takes incredible strength and it feels like flying.

Savasana I think restorative poses might be the most powerful of all, actually. It’s harder for me to be still, let go of the effort, and just enjoy my breath. And that’s exactly why it’s so powerful for me when I can let go.

What are your favorite power poses?