Self-guided awareness

Last week we worked on spreading awareness to all the parts of our bodies. This week we will focus on generating the sensitivity to guide your awareness to where you need it most. While there are many poses in which almost everyone benefits from the same alignment instructions (i.e., energize and lift the back thigh in high lunge), all our bodies are different, and sometimes that may mean that while an alignment instruction is right for most people in a given class, you may actually need to do the opposite.

This is particularly true for very flexible people, as most alignment instructions are geared towards stiff bodies. So while people with tight hamstrings need to spread awareness to their lower back and hips in downward dog to stop avoiding the hamstring stretch by rounding the lower back, a very flexible person actually may need to reduce the arching in the upper back to find balance in this pose.  

This week I want you to think about what part of your body you want to bring more awareness to, and to concentrate on cultivating that awareness with every breath, in every pose. If you have a tendency to lead with your chin and thus hyper-extend the topmost joint in your neck, this is the week for you to begin to break that habit. If you have a tendency to excessively round and arch your lower back to avoid hip stretches at all cost, this is the week for you to begin to disrupt that habit.

Or if you have a nagging injury, I encourage you to spread your awareness to the injured body part, and to use this new-found awareness to send healing energy with every breath to that area and to remind yourself to stay away from your edge in that part of the body as long as you are still in the healing process. What turns a simple injury into a nagging one in the first place? A lack of awareness in the injured body part that condemns us to keep re-injuring that part.Our minds have the tendency to be overly reactive, to zero in on what appears to be the most pressing thing at any given moment, to the exclusion of everything else.