Off the Mat Yoga

How to Learn to Listen to Your Body

We expect so much from our body.  Strength, flexibility, health, hours on end of working and at times, unrealistic expectations.  Especially when you take a moment to consider what do you do for our body?  Do you get enough sleep?  Do you drink enough water?  How about your eating?  Do you eat foods that manifest health and vitality?  Many of us would answer…”um, yeah?” or no” to some or all of these questions?  Yet, we expect our body to still deliver what we want from it.  How does this make sense?  There’s no giving and receiving in this case.  Only receiving. Or better yet, only demanding!

The wake up call

This realization smacked me upside my head a few days ago during my morning yoga practice.  I had been so frustrated with my lack of progress on a goal I’d been working towards after sustaining a pretty serious injury. But this injury (dislocated & separated shoulder) was a while ago! What do you mean, body, you can’t do this anymore body?!  As I lay in child’s pose catching my breath, it was as if my body literally started speaking to me because this is the exact sentence that dropped in my head, “what have you done to help me since then? I can’t sustain a traumatic injury and return to what I did for you before without conscious healing and patience. Help me help you”. 

At this point, I literally jumped to my feet and was like Damn, you’re 100% right!”.  I haven’t help my shoulder heal. I haven’t rehabbed it with the intention. Actually, I haven’t rehabbed it period! All I’ve done is protect and guard it, not using it correctly. And then get pissed off because it’s worse and it still won’t do what I want it to. Wow!

In that moment I realized, I am not a very good friend to my body. I thought I was. I practice/teach yoga daily, I drink plenty of water, I eat healthy, and I get enough sleep.

Although important, it’s not simply about those aspects.  I’m going through the actions of self-care but not living it.  To live it, you must have a relationship with your body.  You communicate with it.  You ask it to perform a certain task or goal but then you ask, what do you need from me to be able to do that for me?  How can I help us achieve this goal?”.  That is having a relationship and communicating with your body. Not making demands, thinking self-deprecating thoughts and speaking negatively about yourself.  What a light bulb moment! I’ve been so busy demanding and pushing my body with no regards for what I’m doing to assist or nurture my body in order to achieve what I’m asking.

And then you know what happened? After I sat for a few moments basking in this revelation and excited for the new relationship I’m about to create, I felt shame. Why? Because I’m a yoga instructor!  I teach about nurturing, body awareness, self-love, every day. How could I be making this mistake?!  Who am I to teach when I’m not doing?  Thank goodness for all the self-help books I’ve read over the years because immediately the powerful words of Maya Angelou whispered in my ear

When you know better, you do better.”

Those words snapped me out of the shame game and I let that sh*t go!  Now my resolve to nurture my body and listen to it is stronger than ever.  This is a lesson I will thread through every class I teach from now on.  It’s ok to have challenging goals. To ask your body to do seemingly impossible things.  We just need to be sure that we are embodying the gift of giving and receiving by asking our body, what do you need from me?  This relationship, the one between your soul and your body, is the most important relationship you will ever have.

What experience was your wake up call letting you know you need to be a better friend to your body?  Share with me in the comments below!


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  1. Avatar

    Alex Edwards

    October 14, 2017 at 2:02 pm

    I totally had a wake-up call earlier this year! I had been busy and slacking on my regular self-care, and I ended up getting the flu for the first time, so I had no option other than resting in bed for a week. And amid the fever and chills, I had plenty of time to think about all the smaller warning signs I had ignored before I got knocked off my feet. I recommitted to taking good care of myself after that (but still might get a flu shot this year).

  2. Joy


    October 16, 2017 at 11:02 am

    Sometimes it feels like our body forces us to take a time-out! We get so busy we either don’t listen or we feel guilty to rest. Something I’m working through 🙂 Thank you for sharing your experience with us Alex!

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