The bumper sticker on our last Yoga Tool was to recognize that just as we take a drink when we are thirsty, eat when we are hungry, we need rest when we are weary. All of which requires first, awareness of a particular sensation in our body.
There are signs and signals speaking to us all the time, but are we really listening?
Are you like me in that you eat regularly on a schedule or do you listen to the signal telling you when you’re hungry? Do you sleep only at certain times of the day or are you paying attention to the signs that you need to rest? These are two indicators built into the survival mechanism of our body. Similarly, if you enter a room with a smell so strong it seems toxic you know to immediately step out again. If you are suddenly ill bringing up something you ate, again a signal. Your brain’s number one job is to keep you safe and protected.
Pain is no different. It is a signal from your brain, a call to action.
Below is a quick and easy Tool to begin learning to sense information your body or your brain, is providing. I often use it in the beginning of a yoga class, to bring some awareness to what we’re about to do.
Lie with your back on the floor. Bend your knees and place your feet hips-width apart. Let your knees gently fall towards each other, resting easy and comfortable.
To sense what you feel in terms of your body’s contact with the floor. What parts of your body are in contact with the floor? Is the surface of the floor hard, soft? Are you comfortable? Do you feel the support of the ground below? Lean in. Feel grounded. Feel supported.
To feel your breath moving through your body. Where do you first notice your breath? In your chest, your lungs? Your nostrils? In your belly perhaps? Does the air feel smooth flowing in, and out? Does it feel forced, soft, cool, warm? Can you sense movement, in tune with your breath, elsewhere in your body?
To notice the tone of your muscles. Are your muscles at rest, tense, or sore? Where in particular do you notice any tension? Where might you find softness? Can you soften the areas around your eyes? Let your jaw, feel relaxed. Your tongue loose and soft in your mouth. Can you contract a muscle somewhere and then for contrast, let it go?
To pay attention to your heartbeat. Can you sense it? Can you feel it? Where do you feel it?
Going even deeper, can you feel or sense the blood flowing through your body?
If you can’t feel a particular sensation, just notice that. Without judgement. Just let it be.
Body / Breath / Musculature / Heartbeat / Bloodflow
5 steps inside…
Take some time each day to first, pay attention. Build awareness.
Practice this once per day over the next week.
*Note: If you’re typically a doer, go-getter, Type-A, cannot sit still type of person, consider doing this AFTER a workout, brisk walk, end of your day, when you’re more likely to be at ease with the sense of quiet and stillness this exercise asks of you.