One of my yoga teachers would ask me to close my eyes while doing a posture. When I reached what seemed to me, my limit of that posture, he would ask me to breathe into the resistance I felt. And sure enough, I could go a bit deeper into the posture after that. He would always say,”See, your body listens to you. Do you listen to your body?”
I wondered about this question. As I looked around, I found that infants are the perfect examples of people who listen to their bodies. They cry when they are hungry or need a diaper change, sleep when they want. They express their displeasure unequivocally! So, knowing what our body needs is innate. We are born with this ability. But as we grow, we allow ourselves to be led more by external cues than internal. For example,
- we eat at predetermined times
- we let the calorie count decide how much we eat rather than how hungry we feel
- we count how many calories we burn or how many steps we walk
- we work through our sickness, discomfort, and grief
- we distract ourselves by overwork or over-consumption
Whether we know it or not, our body speaks to us all the time. For example, have you noticed that after eating certain foods, you feel energetic and alive, whereas certain foods make you sluggish and lazy? If we listened to our bodies, we would always eat right. If we rest when our bodies feel tired instead of pushing through with the help of stimulants, we would never be sleep-deprived.
Our physical body impacts our mental state and vice versa. The wisdom of the body goes deeper than this. It tells us why we are digging our heels, why we keep making plans but do not act. Our mind and body always support our beliefs even when we do not know what our beliefs are!
Deepak Chopra says, “Your body and mind are meant to be a whole and to ensure that they are, your whole existence is based on feedback loops. Body listens to mind; mind listens to the body. Awareness is the link”. As my yoga teacher aptly pointed out – mindfulness, anchoring to the breath, and breathing into the resistance are some of the tools to clue into the wisdom of the body. What are the tools that work for you?