Deepening Our Mind Body Connection Through Personal Practice
Sitting in meditation yesterday, holding space for my virtual students while they rested in savasana post practice, I discovered a tightness in my chest. I paused, took a deep breath and attempted to use my exhale to let it go. It was still there. I began to trace the tightness I was feeling from my heart to behind my shoulders, wrapping its tentacles across my shoulders and pulling down. I opened and closed my jaw, let me head gently move side to side. Still there. It was time to close practice with my students and so I did in the same way I do every class, in gratitude for the health we have, our communities and our practice, and I signed off. I then rolled onto my back myself to just experience the sanctity of my mat. Its gentle cushion, the solid ground beneath it.
What I’ve learned in my years as a Yoga Therapist, is that addressing the subtle whispers of the body as soon we begin to hear them can save from more pain later on. The challenge is in discovering those subtle whispers, well because they are subtle, it’s almost like they aren’t even there. And so, in this brief moment of recognition, I tried to stay with it. To listen to what my body was trying to tell me.
I feel myself holding the collective strain of my city, of my community and friends. I’m carrying the burden for my loved ones and the challenges to our mental health. What can I do? I just sit with it. I let it all rise to the surface, I let the stories bubble up, I address my fears. I roll onto my side for a moment. I press up to all fours and very gently begin to move my spine through cat/cow. Allowing for almost no sensation, matching the subtlety of the earlier whispers to my movement. I take a few more gentle stretches in the same way, coming back to child’s pose and then slowly back to my seat again. I place a hand on my heart and say I hear you. I sit a little longer.
As I come back into my day, the tightness I felt is still there however the edges have softened a little. There is an awareness that this feeling is real and valid, an acknowledgement of its presence. This is the great power of our personal Yoga practice. This is also the great power of our mind/body connection. Deepening our somatic awareness, accepting the darkness. We often think that our Yoga practice must always feel good, and often it does, but Yoga is neutral. Yoga is union, it is the connection of mind/body.
The thought of creating our own Yoga practice can be overwhelming or seem unimportant if we are attending classes regularly. However, as my example above, it doesn’t have to be big to be profound. Every time we pause, every time we get still is an opportunity to move deeper within. To listen for the whispers. To check in and create awareness in our physical body, but also our energy body, our emotions and thoughts. The power of our personal practice knows no bounds because it is personal. It belongs to you and can come in any shape or form you need it to. Sitting quietly, moving through asanas, listening to your breath, journaling or chanting mantras can all be a part of your daily practice. Learning to become more present with yourself and finding small moments throughout the day can be deeply empowering. Strengthening your connection to Self, honing your intuition and truly honouring YOU.
Take a moment right now. Take a big breath in and a slow breath out. Place a hand upon your heart and gently say: I hear you. What are your subtle whispers sharing with you?
In love and light.