Why I do yoga--reason #2Sep 28, 2022
I do yoga for many reasons, but today I want to share about yoga and sensation. The practice of yoga teaches me how to feel sensations in my body. This may sound simple, and really, it is. As a person who has struggled with chronic overeating, codependency, and other substance abuse, I’ve done my fair share of checking out. Oftentimes, I’m food, people, and substance as a way to check out of myself and out source my experience elsewhere. I remember eating food until my body hurt. I had completely blown through the signals that my body was full and continued to eat until I was stuffed to the point of pain.
Or, perhaps I stayed in relationships way too long. I’ve stayed in relationships past the point of “this isn’t healthy anymore” until I run out of the room screaming and never want to see the person again. In both of these situations, my body was sending me signals. The trouble is that I was ignoring these signals and not knowing how to interact with them.
Yoga practice has helped me to understand these bodily signals better. I say better, because I’m still not always able to decipher what my body needs, but the process has become easier over time. Yoga helps me to get present with myself. Through the practice of breathing, movement, and meditation, I’m building a relationship with myself.
Sensation is the language of the body. The body communicates to us through the use of sensation. When I stub my toe, my body is communicating pain. Or when I cut my finger and infection sets in, the throbbing in my finger is communicating to the brain that I need to pay attention to this wound. I’ve spent lots of time in pain and ignored my body’s signals. During those times in my life, I didn’t know how to listen to this pain as a cue that I needed to take care of myself.
Today, I have developed a deeper relationship with my body through my listening and understanding of sensation. Yoga poses are an excellent way to place our body into positions and learn how to be with our breath and what we are feeling. I learned how to monitor my thinking when sensations became intense. The more sensation I would feel in a pose, the more my mind would have something to say about it. I would notice early on in my practice that sensation could bring out a range of emotions like sadness or rage. Big sensations in the body can bring up emotion and sometimes we may feel the urge to cry. Let it out! If you’re in a yoga pose and feel the urge to cry, allow the emotion to move through you.
Yoga is an access to the present moment. When I can stay with myself during moments of big sensation, I’m able to stay present to my body as it is. Sometimes when we feel big things in the body, our mind wants to check out. Staying with the breath and feeling the sensation is an invitation to stay present to what you are feeling. This access to presence can help in life situations off the mat too. Stay with yourself during moments of sensation and notice how this builds resilience in the mind too. Learning how to stay with ourselves during big moments of feeling and sensation will help us stay present when life feels unmanageable.
Practicing yoga regularly has helped me tremendously in everyday life. Learning how to feel and be with sensations in my body has been hugely healing for me. I learn how to stay with myself during moments of great discomfort. Even though I still struggle, I am much more able to identify when and where I’m feeling things. When this happens, I know it’s time to slow down and listen to myself.
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