By Therapeutic Yoga Teacher, Vanessa Salvatore, MA
In our last blog post, Hello Mind, It’s me Body, Got a Minute?, Paula draws upon the different ways in which our bodies are always speaking to us and highlights the importance of taking the time to read and actively listen to our bodies signals and messages. Yoga is an option and an avenue that presents teachings and practices that result in training the practitioner to notice, respond and be with the various sensorial, cognitive and emotional experiences, which continuously arise in the body, differently. Hence, essentially tuning your capacity to listen to your body and have a new relationship with your mind. Bringing you further along in your healing journey.
Yoga stimulates a series of different kinds of movements that slowly open the body, mind, and eventually the heart. And in doing so, offers a safe space and experience to begin slowly releasing negative emotions and letting go of chronic holding patterns, both physical and mental. Please note that it is imperative to have an experienced and knowledgeable yoga teacher to guide you. Thus, the body plays a central role and is the principal medium for discovering, manifesting and living the practice of yoga. With practice, practitioners discover the powerful and intertwined relationship the body and the mind share. One does not exist without the other and the enhanced communication between the two contributes to both physical and emotional well-being.
Yoga provides the physical benefits that are most commonly promoted such as the flexibility and relaxation of the body but in actual fact, the mind is also learning to become more flexible and relaxed. Additionally, it teaches practitioners, on many levels (physically, mentally and emotionally), to be grounded, centered, and find their balance. Yoga is embodied within a kinesthetic culture (yoga groups and classes) where learning occurs through feeling the body’s position, muscles, bones and weight as well as paying attention to the thoughts and being with the emotions that come up throughout practice; shaping practitioners’ bodies as well as their minds.
The bodily mobility discovered in yoga encourages the mobility of the mind, bringing forth new experiences of consciousness. There is a time in every practitioner’s yoga journey where they begin to notice the impact their minds have on their asana practice. These may be negative thoughts, judgments, and/or anxious planning and responding.The level of both bodily and mind mobility depends heavily on a practitioner’s state of mind and how the asanas are approached and received mentally.
The physical sensations and emotional reactions that come up during practice can and do determine the range of bodily mobility experienced, which is in fact, always changing. Returning to your mat regularly gives you the opportunity to check in with your body and truly be with your bodily experience, for example tight hips, shallow breeding, or sore shoulders. In other instances, the movement entailed in practicing the asanas (postures) is influenced and enabled by the mind’s ability to relax and to let go of perceptions or ideas of what a physical posture or your body is “suppose”to look or feel like. Therefore, when practicing it is important to note not only the physical sensations that arise but also the internal workings of the mind.
A notable development in yoga is the refinement of awareness and proficiency in sensorial experience and bodily movement. Students return time and time again to the mat to endlessly train and mature their practice by slowly augmenting these new-found skills and continuously enhancing their relationship with their minds and bodies. The discovery of the bodily and mind mobility connection in yoga brings about new revelations, bringing the practitioner to unknown or perhaps even forgotten territories, such as rediscovering the dormant emotion of joy and aliveness that exists and lives in all of our hearts.