When you stop and listen to your body...
I sat on the sofa last night and wiggled my toes. I studied my foot really hard and watched as I wiggled them more, and more, and became overcome with amazement at how that was even possible! OK... it might sound like I have lost the plot entirely but hear me out on this one.
For the first time in my life I noticed how incredible it is that my body can create movement. Messages were going from my brain to my toes and instigating a simple toe wiggle in milliseconds without effort, without me thinking about it, it was just happening. Is that not completely miraculous?
Maybe it is because having done my yoga teacher training and studied anatomy I have a wider appreciation for the human body and how complex and clever it really is.
But I suspect it has more to do with the fact that I was forced to take a step back yesterday and take stock of what my own amazing body has done for me over the past few months.
The past few years have taught me a lot about my body. Yoga, anxiety, nutrition... these have all given me amazing respect for my body and I am usually pretty good at stopping and listening to the signs she gives me. However, in my adrenalin-fueled-excitement to come back after my yoga teacher training and 'crack on' I thought I could get away with listening to 'to-do' lists rather than the signals I was getting from within.
Usually my body talks to me via my digestion, and via my dear friend anxiety - but I guess she knows that I have got used to these signs and this time I needed a bit of a bigger wake up call! So she pulled out all the stops and floored me with something that would enforce me to rest - a migraine.
At first I thought that it had come totally out of the blue! What on earth could have triggered a migraine? I didn't feel panicky, or tired, or ill - I had just been to the gym for the first time in 6 weeks, done some yoga, meditated and eaten breakfast - surely my body should be happy about all of those 'healthy' things I had done for it.
And then I stopped and thought about just what my body had done for me over the past month. She has put up with traveling for hours at a time, changed timezone, endured more physical activity than ever before, eaten different food, drunk different water, slept in a strange bed, been exposed to extreme heat and a lot of sweating. And that is without even thinking about the mental energy that has been expended.
So it wasn't really so out of the blue after all now was it?!? I was a little foolish to think that she could just keep going, like the Duracell bunny, and not rest, not have time to recover, not require a little recuperation period. When I returned from Costa Rica I set an intention to keep up with my daily yoga practice and meditation and in bull dozing my way through this intention I forgot to listen to the little whispers that she was giving me. Our bodies do not want to get to the point where a screaming rant is the only way we will listen, but when we ignore the warning signs it will have no choice but to throw a block in our way to ensure that we slow up and give it time to catch up.
Our body is communicating with us all the time. If we allow it, we can learn so much from the movement, the sensations, the emotions, the energy.
Every ache, every feeling, every internal and external movement - they are all messages but we generally move so fast through life that we don't hear them.
This is just one of the many things that yoga has taught me. Each time I get on the mat my body gives me a different message and it is up to me to take note of it. Maybe an area is tighter than usual, maybe my strength is not quite up to what it was yesterday, maybe all I want to do is lie in savassanah for an hour? If I take a few minutes to stop and listen - I know exactly what my body needs in that moment and I can nourish it perfectly. If I ignore it and carry on regardless - forcing a stretch deeper, ignoring that urge for stillness - I am letting my beautiful body down.
Why would I do this when she does so much for me?
So can you stop and notice in awe, those wiggling toes? Can you feel your rib cage expanding when you take a deep breath? Can you acknowledge the clever little fingers that are allowing you to scroll down your phone or computer in order to read this post?
Can you, just for a second, appreciate the wonder of your body and listen to it's gentle whispers?