Have you ever heard "Listen to your body?"
If you have ever worked with me, either in a group or a 1-on-1 setting, you have heard me ask the same question every time before we start the "work":
How are you feeling in your body today?
This is not an easy question to answer if you're not used to paying attention to your body.
This is also not an easy question to answer if you are not used to describing sensations in your body.
I know it's not easy and yet I ask it anyways 😇.
Put your hand up if you've ever heard "Listen to your body".
Well, I cannot see your show of hands, but I'm pretty sure most of you reading this have heard it at some point (maybe even from me?).
- But how do you "listen to your body"?
- What does "listening to the body" even mean?
- What is it that you're supposed to "listen" to?
Well, if you're wondering about this, then this blog is for you.
So yes, in case you didn't know, I'm a dancer.
I still say I'm a dancer despite the fact that it's been many many years since I danced professionally (or even taken a dance class), because being a dancer is so much of who I am.
It's from being a dancer that I discovered Pilates which back then helped me recover from injuries, prevent reoccurring ones and refine my technique - all for one purpose - so that I could go on stage night after night and tell a story.
Dance, like any art form, is about telling a story, conveying and hopefully invoking emotions in the audience.
Throughout my dancing career my body was my tool to communicate and connect to other humans.
More than anything, being a dancer taught me how much our bodies can talk, how our bodies speak, not with words, but with movement.
Where a shoulder or hands are, where a torso and legs are, how the body moves creates a "character" that tells its story - and those moves did not come out of thin air. Yes, dance movements are refined, filtered, distilled or exaggerated for aesthetics and artistic purposes, but none the less, audiences understand them as they communicate our humanity.
For me, every person that ever stepped into the studio, every person I see moving on my laptop's screen is a dancer.
In a way, I play the part of the audience that sees and feels what that body is saying.
Understanding what I'm seeing comes from years of studying 'anatomy of movement', biomechanics, nervous system etc. there's an inert sensitivity in me for movement because I'm a dancer in my soul.
BUT - and this is an important 'but' - non of this can make me experience what's it like to actually be in that body!
A movement doesn't only LOOK different from person to person, it also FEELS different to each person.
Everybody (pun intended) has a life story - we're all individuals ("yes, we're all individuals" Monty Python's Life Of Brian rings in my ears 😉) and ONLY YOU, the person that lives in that body, truly knows what and how things feel in YOUR BODY.
My job as a teacher is first to guide you into feeling your own body.
⦿ Some of what you feel is conscious, especially if you're experiencing pain.
⦿ Some of it can easily become conscious, like when you try to move and suddenly become aware of how stiff you are.
⦿ Some feelings are lurking in the wings deeper in your nervous system and brain and you need an access point to get to it.
Learning to FEEL your body is only part of the "listening" process.
The second part is UNDERSTANDING.
There's a difference between HEARING and LISTENING.
Hearing is simply the act of perceiving sound.
Listening is something you consciously choose to do and requires
concentration so that your brain processes meaning.
Feeling a sensation in your body equates "hearing" - the perception of 'a thing' in your body.
Listening to the body is where your mind and brain get involved.
From intellectually understanding how the
body works (anatomy and biomechanics)
to the deeper layer of Proprioception - how
the body senses its position & movement in
space, including our sense of equilibrium
and balance and deeper still into the primal
brain: Neuroception (The Polyvagal Theory)
where the body-brain distinguishes whether
situations or people are safe, dangerous, or
What it means is that LISTENING TO THE
BODY involves the brain (conscious and
unconscious) and this plays a huge part in
how you feel your body and how your
body feels to you.
When you do not understand why or what causes your discomfort or pain you are left at your body's mercy.
When you understand you can make difference choices and take back CONTROL of your body and how it/you feel.
What I love about the process of "Listening to the body", is it strips down the "noise" around the symptoms - pain, discomfort, lack of energy etc.- and allows you to go into the core of what you're experiencing:
- Why is this happening.
- What starts this cascade of symptoms to begin with.
- How we can change it.
All it takes is for you to CONNECT to your body and CONNECT to your brain!
I leave you with a wish of a Safe & Happy St. Patrick's Day 🍀🌸
Much love, Aoifeღ