Listening to your body
In my next couple of blogs I thought I would share some of the key things that I have learnt about listening to my body and adapting my yoga practice in response.
I recently ran a workshop on Dru Yoga for Wellness. This came about following requests from students wanting to put together their own home practice or them wanting ideas on how to change their practice to suit their health and wellbeing needs. We had to delve a little bit deeper into yoga philosophy, we touched on the koshas, the chakras and the elements, all of which help us to tap into the wisdom of our bodies.
If you want to use your Dru Yoga to help a specific health or wellbeing issue then the first thing I would ask you to remember is that you have to practice. Your teacher’s can advise you, but you actually have to do the yoga! Think of it this way, if you went to your doctor with a problem and she gave you a course of medication, you would take it every day (maybe multipul times a day) until told otherwise. You wouldn’t just take one tablet and then expect to be well and not bother with the rest of the course. It’s exactly the same with yoga. In my experience you get out of yoga exactly what you put in. For the best results aim to practice everyday, and by this I don’t mean that you need to do a full on 90 minute class every day. It might be just one posture or one breathing practice. Just make sure you do it.
Here are some of the tips then, that I shared to help you use your yoga practice for wellness.
LISTEN TO YOUR BODY. First up you have to actually listen to your body and your inner wisdom. Our bodies are constantly communicating with us, telling us what they need (or don’t need!), but we don’t always hear, and sometimes we actually choose to ignore our Self. Cultivate still and quiet time so that you can actually listen without distraction. Ask yourself questions and listen to the answers. Write things down if you need to. Check in with yourself regularly too, at least once a day.
RESPOND. If you are going to ask your inner wisdom for advice then be sure to listen, and RESPOND. I say this for a couple of reasons. If you constantly ignore your body’s requests it will be forced to give you stronger and more drastic signs that it needs help. For example, if your body is telling you it’s tired but you think you’re too busy to rest, expect to get colds and virus’, or perhaps an injury, something which might force you to rest. I ignored my body’s constant requests for rest and eventually I got an illness that absolutely floored me, I wasn’t allowed to drive, and I was in so much pain with sub zero energy levels all I wanted to do was stay in bed…but my body did get the rest it needed. Now I always listen to my body’s requests for rest and sleep. The other thing that I’ve noticed is that the more you listen and respond to your body the better it communicates with you. If you constantly ignore your body you are essentially telling your Self that you are either not worth listening to or trusting, or that you are not worth the self care. Either way these messages are negative and harmful.
BE PATIENT. If you are not used to listening to your body give it chance to respond. It might take a little time for your inner voice to have the confidence to speak up, particularly if you have been ignoring it. Keep going. Keep trusting your inner voice. Patience and practice will pay dividends.
BE HONEST. To be honest this can be tricky! Honesty is essential though. You can kid yourself that 5 hours sleep is plenty, but You know the truth, and the body really does keep the score. I also find it useful to speak to someone who will tell me the truth as I don’t always see what I need to see. A trusted teacher is perfect, they have nothing to gain by pointing out areas for you to work on!
BE OPEN AND WILLING TO CHANGE. Finally, we might not always like the answers our bodies give, and we might not be too thrilled about the lifestyle changes we know we need to make, but please be open to these changes, and at least give it a go. The body wants to be well and if we put in some effort it will reward us in spades. I’m always amazed by how my body responds even to little changes, and more often than not I can’t even remember what habit I was so reluctant to let go of once I get into a new groove.
I hope these tips help. The more you listen to your inner wisdom, the easier it becomes, that I promise you, pay attention, do what you need to and you will reap the benefits.
Next time we’ll have a look at how to check in with your body. Take care, be well! Ix