Get full access to Outside Learn, our online education hub featuring in-depth yoga, fitness, & nutrition courses, when you sign up for Outside+.
Our body language is a message we convey to the world, and it speaks for us before we even open our mouths. Not only do other people make judgments on us based on how we hold ourselves, but we also make judgments on ourselves. Posture can literally influence how we feel. This is why body language is so important in situations where first impressions matter, like a job interview. Think about it: Would you be more likely to hire someone with crossed arms who appears uncomfortable—or someone who takes up space and exudes confidence?
Remember all the times your parent, partner, or yoga teacher reminded you to stop slouching? They weren’t just asking you to adjust your physical body, but also your energy. Hunching forward sends messages of heaviness, meekness, and insecurity to both the world and your own nervous system. Poor posture collapses the spine and therefore your overall sense of Self. It is hard to open the heart when you’ve formed an armor around it. Sitting tall and taking up space expresses assuredness, openness, and receptivity.
Social psychologist Amy Cuddy popularized the science of body language with her popular Ted Talk, “Your Body Language May Shape Who You Are”. In the talk, she shared research proving that our minds change our bodies and our bodies change our minds. She introduced the concept of “power posing,” which she later wrote about at length in her book, explaining that making ourselves bigger not only conveys confidence to the outside world, but can actually make us feel more confident inside.
What more important time to feel confident than right before a job interview? Most of us do a great job preparing our brains for an interview by doing things like learning about the company where we’re hoping to work or practicing our responses to possible questions. Body language research tells us that we can also prepare our bodies, too. Practicing yoga, and particularly these power pose-like shapes, can also help you feel more self-assured.
5 Yoga Poses to Do Before a Job Interview
Hero Pose (Virasana), variation
This classic seated pose will help you get grounded and breathing deeply before your big opportunity. This arm variation is a dynamic way to start power posing.
Sit on a block with the tops of your shins and your feet on the floor, outside of your hips. Touch your inner knees together, releasing your inner thighs to the ground. For now, rest your hands on your lap and tune into your breath. Use your inhalations to lengthen the torso and your exhalations to ground into your sit bones. Take at least 10 full breaths before you get moving. This will help settle the nervous system and ground you.
Now, take a strap between both hands and reach your arms up above your head, separating the upper arms into a wide V. Start with the strap wide; you are going to make circles. Keeping your arms straight, inhale and reach your arms strongly to the ceiling and begin to take your arms back behind the body on an exhale. Inhale and carefully swing your arms back up toward the ceiling and on an exhale, lower them in front of you. Think of this like a yogic jump roping! You may play with bringing your hands closer together along the strap, but only if you are able to keep your elbows straight during a full revolution. Take 5-7 complete circles, then pause with your arms overhead and hold for 10 full breaths. Lower the arms and rest.
Wide-Legged Forward Bend (Prasarita Padottanasana) with Cow Face Pose (Gomukhasana) Arms
Adding a shoulder-opener to this deep forward fold not only opens our hamstrings, but it also teaches us to keep our heads up and our hearts open, even when external forces (like limiting beliefs or in this case, gravity) may be pulling us down.
Stand on your mat facing the long end of your mat and side of the room. Step your feet out 3 feet apart and stretch your arms to the sides, aligning your wrists under your ankles. Have a strap resting on your right shoulder. Inhale your right arm up in line with your ear. Deeply externally rotate your lifted arm by wrapping the back of your arm toward your face. Bend your elbow, keeping it pointing to the sky. Reach your left arm out to the side. Internally rotate your left arm, just to position it. Bend your elbow and crawl your left arm as far up toward your right shoulder as possible. Hold the strap with both hands or clasp. Once clasping, press your left shoulder-head back by rolling your left inner upper arm away from the midline of your body.
On an inhalation, lengthen through your spine; on an exhalation, fold forward at your hips. The work in this shape is to maintain the actions of your arms even as you move with gravity—the hugging in of your right upper arm to the ear and spinning outward of your left inner upper arm. Stay here for 10 deep breaths. Ground your feet and come up slowly on an inhalation. Release your left arm first and then your right. You may jump your feet together or go right into the second side.
Triangle Pose (Trikonasana), variation
When we are feeling insecure, we tend to make ourselves small. This expansive pose will teach you to take up space and stand in your power. Stand with your feet together facing the long end of your mat (side of the room). Step your feet out 3 to 3.5 feet wide, bringing your hands to your hips. Turn your right leg out from within the hip and align your front heel to your back heel. Turn your back foot and hip in slightly. On an inhalation, reach your arms out to the sides like a T. On an exhalation, reach your right arm forward toward your front leg and hinge down at your hip, placing your right hand onto a block or outside of your shin.
Lengthen your spine, reaching your tailbone to your back foot and sternum to your head. On an inhalation, sweep your top arm overhead. Ground into your back heel to lengthen through your top waist. If it is OK on your neck, look up to your lifted arm. Stay here for 15 breaths. To come out, ground into your feet and inhale your torso back upright. On an exhalation, parallel your feet and switch sides.
Locust Pose (Salabhasana), variation
They did not nickname this variation of Locust Pose “Superman” for nothing! Belly backbends help strengthen your back while opening the front, and the arms overhead are the quintessential power pose! In Buddhism there is a saying, “soft heart, strong back,” meaning you live generously but also know your worth!
Start lying on your belly with your legs and feet hips-width distance apart. Reach your arms overhead along the floor and turn your palms to face one another, pressing your pinkies into the ground. On an inhalation, lengthen your body to lift it, raising your arms and legs at the same time. Reach through your legs vigorously as you gently pressing your pubic bone into the floor, lengthening your lower back. Extend your chest toward your head while still maintaining a light lift of your lower belly. Your arms should be lifted and pulling back so they’re in line with your ears, triceps spinning to the floor and biceps up to the ceiling. Lengthen the back of your neck by keeping your gaze just ahead of your mat. Stay lifted for 8 breaths, then lower yourself down slowly and rest briefly on one cheek before repeating two more times for a total of 3 rounds.
Lord of the Dance Pose (Natarajasana)
Sometimes called “King” Dancer, Natarajasana is a standing pose and a backbend, which helps cultivate confidence and love.
Before you begin, make a generous loop of your strap (about 2-foot diameter). Stand at the top of your mat with your feet together. Bend your right knee and loop the strap around your right foot. Hold the strap in your right hand, with your elbow pointing downward and inner wrist and palm facing to the ceiling. First, bring your right arm up in line with your ear, by drawing your arm forward and up. If you get stuck, loosen your strap. Now add the left arm overhead, grabbing the strap end. Begin to hinge forward at your pelvis.
On an inhalation, use the strap to draw your right inner leg back and up as you firm your standing leg. Your chest should be lifting proudly to the sky. If you are able to walk the hands further back on the strap, you may. Keep your arms in line with your ears by actively wrapping your outer upper arms (triceps) to the nose. Find a steady gazing point ahead to help you remain balanced. Stay here for 10 deep breaths. To come out, slowly loosen your hold of the strap and bring your torso back upright. Release your right leg and ground in Mountain Pose (Tadasasna) before switching sides.