Ask a Wanderlust Mentor: What’s Your Power Pose?

Own your power, own your practice.

One of the most treasured aspects of a Wanderlust Festival is the community of Mentors present. Individually, these teachers and thought leaders are pioneers of their fields, doing the work and inspiring others to make this world a kinder, healthier, more peaceful place. Collectively, their influence is even stronger, providing us with a network of motivation that guides us toward our own True North.

Like the rest of us, these Mentors may find that certain yoga poses resonate more than others.

Enter the power pose. You know the one. The one that makes you feel big, open, and strong. The one you turn to when you need to build up confidence, or shake away the doubt. So we asked some of our Mentors: What’s your go-to power pose?

“The power we cultivate on our mats—and that we harness as we step into the world—is of a much subtler and quieter variety than the cultural association of power,” says Kathleen Engelhardt, who turns to forward folding poses when she needs to tune inward and seek humility and backward bending when she needs to open up and make space. “I think of it as the power to simultaneously summon strength while softening to the sensations of the situation. In other, more poetic words, the holding of sacred ground.”

Other Mentors we spoke with echoed this desire for holding space in their practice. “My power pose is a Low Lunge and Revolved Warrior,” says yoga teacher Lindsay Havlicek Bell. “They instantly make me feel awesome.” For Nikki Vilella, it’s Downward Dog. “It is hands-down the pose that makes me feel the most embodied.”

Meg McCraken, who teaches therapeutically-oriented yoga, practices Agni Sara daily “to acknowledge, honor, collect, and direct my power in a clear and conscious way.”

We heard from many Mentors that inversions help them make space and feel strong in their sense of self. For yin yoga teacher Liza Dousson, taking Headstand “doesn’t make me feel ‘powerful’ per se; it makes me feel whole and clears my mind, provides deep balance, perspective, and grounding—that is what I find ‘powerful’ in my day.”

LA-based yoga teacher Vinnie Marino is all about Forearm Stand—“it focuses my mind,” he says—while Chris Loebsack’s go-to is a Handstand. “It both picks me up and clamps me down,” she says. “I love it also because it didn’t come easy to me. I really had to work though old injuries with full-on mindful energy to do it in a sustainable fashion and safely.”

Magi Pierce also turns to Handstand to feel powerful: “”It simplifies my mind; it’s about dharana (concentration) through my drishti (eye gaze) and my breath,” she says. “I often use it before I teach.”

Basil Jones couples inversions with arms balances. “When I feel disconnected from my heart and my capacity to be open because of the violence or pain I see in the world, I know that I need to show up in my arm balancing to recharge my heart center,” he says. “Crow Pose and Handstands remind me to lift into myself physically, emotionally, and energetically. There’s no room to bullshit yourself when in an arm balance.”

Arm balances also speak to Bob Speck, who names Peacock his power pose. “It’s powerful, yes, but it’s also all about balance. Life is often a see-saw, a balancing act. Hard and soft. Rigid and adaptable. Striving and accepting. Peacock allows me to put my hands on the Earth, feel power from my center, and find balance. Sometimes.”

Another theme among our Mentors was chest openers, poses that crack us open and invite us to sit in the vulnerability. Lauren O’Connell’s is Camel Pose. “It grounds my lower body while opening solar plexus, heart, and throat chakra,” she says. “It makes me feel radiant and powerful.”

For Taylee Wilson, Wild Thing has a similar effect: “It feels strong and open at the same time and is one of my absolute favorites,” she says. “I love to incorporate it into my home practice and my class flow.”

Jose “Yoga Fool” Rivera’s power pose, Warrior’s Bridge, comes from the Budokon Primary Series, which is similar to Wild Thing. “It is a shoulders-stacked, side-body-strength pose. I like feeling the lateral lines of energy and shoulder stability as I lift up and hug in.”

Another heart opener fan, SUP yoga teacher Katie Collins frequently turns to Wheel Pose while on her paddleboard. “It’s one of those poses on the water that truly needs ultimate stability and muscle integration. When done properly, it strengthens my postures on land.”

Other Mentors feel most powerful getting back to basics. “I love the series of basic Sun Salutations,” says Gina Murdock. “If I don’t have a lot of time I can do a few and it completely changes my body and mood. I feel stronger and more embodied.”

Sally Sherman dials it in to one particular moment: “My power pose is Tadasana. It is my True North. It is the way our bodies were meant to stand—strong, tall, proud. It is a powerful pose!”

It’s important to note that the power pose isn’t stagnant. Just as we as yogis change, so too does our practice. “I think my power pose changes and varies throughout time, which I think is good since it opens me up to other types of changes in life,” says Rachel Priest. Her current power pose is Side Plank. “Side plank teaches me great control and stability, and especially as I move through transitions with it, it makes me really stay focused and in the moment during my practice,” she says.

And that’s really what a power pose is about: feeling connected and present in your practice.

What’s your power pose? Let us know in the comments below.

grace-edquist-headshotGrace Edquist is an editor at Wanderlust Media. A former radio DJ and summer camp director, she now spends her days writing, editing, and walking around Brooklyn. She enjoys a fine aged cheddar and spending as much time outdoors as possible.