This February I am offering something slightly different in place of my evening yoga classes - a course on Body Sensing. But what is this?
Body Sensing is the art of living an embodied life, being aware of the innate intelligence of our inner world. It includes our physical body, but also extends to our emotions, thoughts, feeling and spirit.
Body Sensing is all about increasing our Interoceptive awareness – or the ability to listen effectively to our bodies. Just think about all the times you have ignored or failed to listen to your body. Times where you might have pushed through tiredness with caffeine, drank or ate too much, stifled feelings of grief or anger. These habits often create distance from our own bodies.
Through body sensing practices we aim to rebuild this relationship with our bodies, so that it can be based on trust and respect. Body sensing practices include moving with slow awareness, while incorporating the principles of mindfulness – non-judgmental awareness of the present moment.
Bessel Van der Kolk has researched changes that happen in the brain and body with slow, interoceptive yoga and meditation practices. He found these practices make positive changes in the “Mohawk” brain structures which help regulate Self Identity, as well as the region of the forebrain that promotes self-regulation, pro-social behavior, and positive affect (emotional states). Other useful changes to brain structures include improved focus, attention, memory, as well as less loss of gray matter which naturally occurs with aging.
Body Sensing practices, include slow mindful movement, mindful attention to the breath, pranayama (breathing practices), and yoga nidra (deep relaxation).
These practices also assist tone the vagus nerve in the body. This nerve is the connection between our gut and our brain. Healthy vagal tone assists us to feel more comfortable in our own skins. It helps build the ability to react appropriately to life, easily shifting states between resting and activity as we need to. It also helps regulate the insula area of the brain. This is the part that connects us to sensations and emotions, and can be agitated when we experience trauma or anxiety.
Body Sensing practices can help us understand our usual patterns of behavior, such as reacting or shutting down. The practices also have a significant role in helping us get in touch with our values and priorities in life. When we have a healthy respectful relationship with our body we can then chose how we act with more freedom, and can make decisions that positively influence our health and wellbeing.
For more information, or to sign up, check out the events page.