Fitness for Life - Interoception and Self-Awareness
The human body has its own intelligence. We can connect with it if we learn to intuitively be aware of it and breathe with it.
In 2004, at the age of 20, I had my first encounter with the practice of yoga. A young woman from the United States started teaching a one-hour class three times a week in my hometown, Brasilito. I would not miss a class! I thought I had finally discovered the ultimate “fitness class” for getting my body fit in a gentle way. Little did I know about the depth and the power of this ancient practice.
For sure, I started perceiving myself to be more aware and present after each class. My breath was slow and deep, and there was a sense of ease and peace emanating from me. But this state of being lasted only a few hours after each practice of yoga. I was not integrating it permanently.
Once I became a certified yoga instructor, my understanding of the practice of yoga and self-awareness was taken to a wonderful new level. I discovered interoception — the capacity everyone has to feel the messages our body gives us, such as changes in heart rhythm or a subtle muscle contraction. I started integrating interoception into my practice of yoga as I went into each posture, during the posture and as I went out of the posture.
Various group experiments have shown that people who have developed the capacity to detect, process and decode the messages from their body are more likely to make life decisions with a positive impact. As I learned to apply this principle to the way I teach yoga, as a fundamental part of crafting my classes, it was inevitable for me to realize how I was naturally and effortlessly taking interoception from my mat to my own life experience. I constantly find myself pausing and consciously feeling what my body is conveying. This happens before I reply to others in a conversation, respond to an email or meet with a client. As a result, my connections with the people I interact with have become stronger and better aligned.
My intention as a yoga instructor is to help practitioners come to the same realization themselves. There is no greater advantage for an individual overall than to acknowledge the body's responses moment by moment to access information that might otherwise be overlooked. Nature's intelligence is everpresent at a quantum level. It is always available to us whenever we become more present and silent.
Photos by Abi Acuña