Fit­ness for Life - In­te­ro­cep­tion and Self-Aware­ness

Howler Magazine - - Contents - By Mar­ian Pa­ni­agua

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

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