How Can Body Awareness Make You More Mindful?
Increasing your mind-body awareness can heighten your mindfulness. This will increase confidence, decrease stress, and combat depression and anxiety. There are many ways that we can become more connected to ourselves through our bodies. Below are four techniques that I use to become more mindful through increasing my body awareness.
Place one hand on heart and one hand on your stomach. When I teach and practice yoga, I start by placing one hand on my heart and one hand on my stomach allowing myself to feel my body move as I’m breathing. This grounding exercise allows me to arrive in the space and it creates a soothing effect on my mind and body. Starting your yoga practice this way brings your focus inward and eases unsettling thoughts and feelings. Whenever you are feeling ungrounded, this is a great technique to follow whether you’re about to give a presentation, have social anxiety, or are going into an interview.
Focus on your breath. Almost every yoga teacher uses the phrase “focus on the breath” because it’s one of the best ways to increase body awareness. You begin to become aware of how poses feel and where you are holding tension. You will know that a pose is not good for your body if you stop breathing or if your breath is short. Take time to tune in and notice these changes throughout your day and throughout your practice. Your breath naturally can bring you more energy or bring a sense of calm. Another breathing technique that yoga teachers tend to use is letting out a big sigh or releasing a deep exhale as you push your hands away from you. This can create the sense of literally pushing away negativity and can be a great release for the end of a class.
Practice pranayama, breathing exercises. Using the ‘Breath Of Joy’, a breath control technique, can be an amazing way to combat depression and increase energy. While standing you lift your arms parallel to the ground in front of you breathing in through your nose, lowering your hands to your sides, lifting your arms again out to a “T Shape” while inhaling again and on the third inhale lift your arms over your head and on your one exhale bend your knees into a forward fold and send your arms behind you letting out an exhale through the nose. Repeating this exercise 6 - 12 times can help energize you and improve your mood. I tend to implement this breathing exercise in almost every class.
Do some yoga. The asana, yoga poses, in yoga are a wonderful way to create more mind-body awareness. Knowing how your body moves and how your breath changes throughout your movements will allow you to have more awareness in your everyday life. I encourage my students and clients to close their eyes while they are flowing through some poses, whether it’s through cat/cow poses or a few rounds of sun salutations. Having your eyes closed allows you to focus on how your body feels through the movement instead of “checking” your pose with your eyes. You will learn how the poses feel and feel much more connected to yourself because the focus is more intense on the body.
Some of the best ways to increase body awareness is to mindfully get into your body - find ways to slow the mind, be present, and enjoy the process. How will you utilize these techniques?