We’ve all been there—you’re in a barre or yoga class, going through the motions, and the instructor encourages you to try a new pose..but to listen to your body as push into position.
Have you ever thought…What am I listening for? A groan? A pop?
No matter how often we hear that phrase, the idea of “listening” to our bodies is often a foreign concept, but we’re too afraid to ask the instructor for clarification at the risk of appearing uninformed.
But this, friends, is a safe space. A space where all questions are welcomed. And we’re going to use this space today to break down what “listening to your body” really means….and how you can learn to listen to yours.
What is Listening?
At its core, listening to your body means growing the mind-body connection. It’s a connection that takes practice and will not happen overnight…but it’s easier than most people think.
To effectively listen to your body, you must turn your attention inward and assess what you are feeling.
What emotion am I experiencing at this moment?
What is my body feeling? Stress? Physical discomfort? Pain?
How do I feel at this moment in my body?
Learning to listen to your body is not limited to working out. Understanding that your emotional state can affect your physical state is incredibly important. For example, receiving an angry email from a short-tempered boss might cause a physical symptom of tense shoulders. By learning to listen to your body, you can acknowledge the physical tension and connect it to the stress and/or anxiety the email induced.
How Do We Learn to Listen to Our Bodies?
It’s time to get introspective. Not all of us are comfortable thinking about ourselves, but you cannot listen to your body without turning your attention inward. You can learn to better listen to your body by:
Respecting your body – Start from a place of gratitude. Send grateful energy inward to this amazing machine that serves you so well each day.
Connecting your mind to your body—This step really is easier than it sounds. Begin by sitting in a comfortable spot, closing your eyes, and breathing deeply. Take air in through your nose and down to the bottom of your belly before releasing it back out through the nose once again (click here to learn more about ujjayi breathing).
Once the breathing comes easily, begin to focus on your body. How is it feeling? Relaxed? Tense? Nervous? Are you filled with energy or tired? Are you hungry or thirsty? This act of paying attention to what your body is feeling is what “listening to your body” is all about.
Ask your body what it needs from you. If you are feeling tired, you may need to schedule a nap. If you are hungry, it’s time to prepare a meal. Are you feeling anxious? You may need to go for a walk or take a yoga class. They key is to take in the information you’ve received from your body, then act in a way that gives your body what it needs to feel healthy and well.
Learning to listen to your body and strengthen your mind-body connection is the single greatest gift you can give yourself. In building this connection, you will improve your mental and physical health while creating overall wellness…and that is a gift that never stops giving.