Interoception. The dinosaur for your body.
The word interoception sounds like a scary dinosaur, or perhaps some scary technological device. In reality, interoception is our brain's ability to perceive sensations inside our bodies.
In these frenetic times, we are very focused on what is happening around us. Most of our time is spent focusing on what is happening on our screens. It's not unusual that we are aware of what is happening in our body only when we feel pain or if something is obviously not acting normal. I would even push it and say that even if we do feel that something is not ok, we postpone the thought until we have time and forget about it.
Yoga practice, like Yoga Nidra, is a way to regain the ability to recognize the sensations coming from the body. Focusing inward during the session/class and following the teacher's suggestions and cues can lead our brain to slowly regain the lost feelings that are the voices of our body. Our body gives us constant feedback, this feedback gives us the signals on how to make the synergy mind-body happen.
Interoception is the bottom-up approach of the body, as it's not the conscious brain informing the body what is good and what is not good. It's a decentralized approach that can be applied in multiple other spheres of our existence.
The mindful practice stimulates the part of our brain able to listen, increases the level of general awareness of our body and the more interesting whole of body-mind awareness. The long-time practitioners can confirm that the increase of awareness brings multiple beneficial effects on the ability in dealing with emotions and adjusting faster when emotions are overwhelming. Emotions usually start from the body.
Feeling hungry and thirsty are clear strong signals, but a lot more is happening in our perfect bodies worth being heard. For example, something that in our society is left completely aside is our breath. Unsurprisingly considering the level of air pollution in most of our towns and cities.
Learning to listen to the breath and how it's interacting with the rest of our body. It may be subtle but still very clearly opens a universe in the understanding of what's happening within ourselves, our emotions, and our feelings. Our breath tells us if we are letting our life live us or if we are fully living.
Yoga is a great practice to relearn to listen. There are multiple ways to practice Yoga and most of them are not interesting to document on Instagram, some of them can be practised while laying down and listening, like Yoga Nidra.
In conclusion, interoception is not a dinosaur.
If you want to try Yoga Nidra, one option is with me on Tuesday
Brilliant (smart and fun) listening about interception here
More reading for a few small studies: