Yoga asana to listen to your inner voice

Yoga encourages you to consciously observe your experiences. It also encourages you to learn from them, and to put what you learn into practice in all spheres of your life.

My grandfather was a great one for saying “the day you stop learning is the day you die”. When I first heard this zany idea I wasn’t too keen on it – I was convinced my education should end with school, university at the very latest – but as I got a little older, and dare I say wiser, I began to see the wisdom in his words.

Everything we experience can teach us something. Our mind has an amazing capacity to objectively analyse the situations and objects put before us – it’s a highly complicated feedback loop designed to help us understand the world we live in. But somehow as our life progresses we often teach ourselves to ignore the subtle internal messages of our body and mind. 

As a child there were doubtless times when you thought “I shouldn’t eat that third piece of cake”, only to ignore this inner voice of reason and give into your desire. Down went the cake, and ten minutes later you were complaining to your mum that your stomach hurt. Do similar scenarios occur in your adult life? OK, so it’s unlikely you complain to Mum anymore, but it’s certainly not uncommon for us to ignore that inner voice.

When we consciously give our bodies, our breath and our minds space to ‘speak’, they more often than not have a story to tell us. Each week in class, try to listen to your body, your breath and your mind and their responses to the “experience” of each asana. Do you feel uncomfortable in a pose? Can you alter the position to make it comfortable? Can you find the balance that exists within every pose? Each of you is an individual, and you alone know the sensations and experiences that come to you in the course of a yoga class.

So next time, as you move through your yoga practice, try to enquire what that feedback loop is telling you to do, what your experience of each pose – each moment in each pose – can teach you about yourself. With practice, that same spirit of enquiry can go with you throughout the many situations that confront you during your day – and when it does, you’ll be starting to harness one of Yoga’s most significant benefits.

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