LISTENING TO YOUR BODY
I’ve been teaching yoga for about 3 years and throw out a lot of terms and one of the most common is “Listen to your body”. Once this is integrated into your practice, it becomes second nature and begins to bleed outside of your practice into your daily life and is one of the most important things yoga has taught me. On the opposite end, however, to someone who doesn’t have experience here, it probably sounds like another hippie yoga terms that’s just a little too distant for the casual yoga goer to do.
It *and I cannot stress this enough* is NOT just for yogis. It is for anyone who takes up from 10 hours of sleeping exhausted, anyone who can’t keep a good workout balance, anyone who feels they fluctuate in their motivation and productivity and if you haven’t experienced any of these three things, please email me, because I have a few questions. I saw all this to say it is for EVERYONE.
First off, here’s why we listen to the body and not the mind- yet. The mind is complex. It’s way too easy to get caught up in specific thoughts and ideas and lose sight of the root of how we’re feeling, but the body has none of that. That’s why we break it down into the physical and we start to learn trends. Here’s some of the things I’ve learned that are specific to me. When I wake up with a tense jaw, I have a lot of stress. So much so that I am holding on to it not only when I’m awake, but when I’m asleep. When my shoulders are tight, I’m probably worried about a deadline, when my back hurts my body may have moved, but it needs to be stretched, and wrists, ankles, and my neck need continued movement to stay working on a project for hours. I wish I could say these are universal, but they’re not. They are, however, relatively easy to learn.
For example, shoulder = deadlines. That’s pretty specific to know. All I did was start to notice. I know when I have deadlines, I know what it feels like for my shoulders to hurt, and what do you know they always seem to align. I just kept this going over and over and over again until I learned what my body tells me every day. This means that when I wake up and I think I’m stressed because work, but I noticed the feeling in my shoulders I can understand that it’s not work, but because that’s what right in front of me that’s what my mind is telling me it is and so I’ll work to solve the wrong problem. I could give a million more example of when the mind blames the first thing in front of us, but we’re holding on to something completely different.
Unfortunately, just like everything else in yoga, this is a practice. It takes time to develop and understand, but the good news is once we give the time it’s a habit near impossible to break. We begin to understand when we need rest and not sleep, when we need energy and not food, when we need movement and not relaxation, and so much more.
To start your practice – start here. 5 minutes every morning. Close your eyes, maybe put on some soft music, sit up and start at your toes and move all the way to the top of the head and listen, taking mental notes of what you hear. When you’ve gone through the WHOLE body, even the tiny, tiny muscles in the face, then move to the mind and listen. Don’t force anything just listen and take note. If you don’t have the best memory, maybe write things down, see trends when things come and go out, compare it to your calendar and see what aligns and then suddenly you realize your body is just talking, but it’s telling you exactly what you need and that’s what I mean every time we practice and I say, “let’s listen to the body.”
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