‘Listen to your body’ – a phrase that is used so much in yoga classes and I seem to say it at least once during every class I teach but how much do we actually do it?
With so many distractions in our lives and so much of our time spent in our heads it is not always easy to stop and listen to those subtle messages that our body is trying to tell us.
I wanted to write this blog because I feel it is so important for our own self healing. There are lots of articles, books and teachers who have lots of advice for being healthy and healing our bodies but not all of their advice applies to you and what you need. Many people give advice on what has worked for them and so it is easy to think that this is what you need too.
I tried being vegan and eating as much raw food as possible thinking that this was what I needed to heal myself, but for me this actually made me feel worse. I made choices with my head rather than what my body was needing. Eating in this way made me feel tired, cold and achy and while I was OK during spring and summer as soon as the weather started getting colder I knew that I needed something different. I’m not saying that a raw, vegan diet isn’t a good way to eat and I am sure many people benefit from it, it just wasn’t working for me.
When I stopped and listened to my body and made changes I felt a softening and a warming to my body and started to feel stronger and have more stamina. We all have different constitutions and needs so there is no one size fits all diet that will lead to health and healing.
I have focussed on diet as this has been most relevant to me recently but it also covers all areas of life. With a yoga practice we hope to bring balance into the body but we tend to do the practices that we like or are used to. For example an active busy person might feel more comfortable going to a strong fast paced class but if they were to really listen to their body they might find more benefits going to a yin yoga class where they could break the busyness cycle and find more relaxation. This also applies to a calm relaxed person who might be feeling a bit stagnant and stuck who would naturally go towards a restorative or yin class but may find more balance from a stronger practice.
The best way to really start to tune in to what our body needs is to just ‘be’.
Try this 5 minute practice:-
Turn off all distractions and find a quiet space that you won’t be disturbed.
Close your eyes and allow your awareness to turn inwards. Try to bring your awareness down from your head and into the torso. Maybe focusing on the breath while watching the rising and falling of the abdomen will help keep your awareness there. You could even rest your hands over your heart or abdomen.
Continue for a couple of minutes and then ask yourself ‘What is it that I need today?’
Listen to the answer you receive – it won’t be wrong.
Try to spend a couple of minutes each day doing this practice and see what arises for you. The more you do it the more in tune and aware of your body you will feel. This is a good way to start your day and listen to what you need that day – the answer may surprise you!