Our inner guidance comes to us first through our feelings and body wisdom. But the rush and busyness of life can keep us from being in touch with our own body, its signals and messages.
A beautiful way for you to tune into your body wisdom is to pause for a few minutes and become aware of your body. The technique is simple, easy to do on your own, and from the very first time you do it, the tension will melt out of your muscles and soothing quiet will spread through your mind.
In yoga we practice savasana or long, deep, relaxation after the physical practice of kriya or asana. It involves lying on your back and moving your mind through different regions of your body. You can practice this meditative, relaxation technique sitting on the train, at your desk or lying down on your yoga mat at home. If you’re suffering from sleepless nights, do this exercise when you get into bed and by the time you’re halfway through you’ll likely have drifted off into a deliciously, deep sleep.
Here’s how to practice the Body Scan Meditation:
1. Start by getting into a comfortable position. If you’re sitting, put both your feet flat on the floor and rest your hand on your thighs. If you’re lying down on the floor, spread your feet at least hip distance apart and open your arms at a comfortable distance from your body with your palms face up.
2. Inhale slowly and deeply through your nose, and exhale with a sigh through your mouth. Do this until you feel a sense of relief. If you’re in a public place and prefer to remain inconspicuous, take a few slow, nourishing breaths through your nose. Breathe deeply for about two minutes, allowing your stomach to rise as you inhale and fall as you exhale. When you start to feel comfortable and relaxed continue on to step three.
3. Let your awareness float down into your toes. Start with the toes of the left foot and slowly move up the foot and leg, feeling the sensations as you go and directing the breath in to and out from the different regions. Notice what you feel in the particular body parts as you come to them, breathe with them, and let go of them.
4. When you reach the pelvis on the left side, go to the toes of the right foot and move up the right leg returning to the pelvis. From there, move up through the torso, through the low back and abdomen, the upper back and chest, and the shoulders. Then turn your awareness to the fingers of both hands and move up simultaneously in both arms, arriving at the shoulders.
5. From the shoulders move up to the neck and throat, and finally all the regions of the face, the back of the head, and the top of the head. Pay close attention to your jaw, chin, lips, tongue, nose, cheeks, eyes, forehead, temples and scalp. When you reach the very top of your head, let your breath reach out beyond your body and imagine yourself hovering above yourself as though your awareness were floating above your physical body. Breathe and enjoy this expanded and radiant feeling.
After completing the body scan, relax for a while in silence and stillness, noting how your body feels. Ask your body if there is a message she’d like to share with you. Stay quiet and listen.
Before you open your eyes, take a moment to give thanks to your breath and to your body for giving you the gift of life. Then wiggle your fingers and toes, rotate your ankles and wrists and stretch your arms and legs in opposite directions. Rub your hands together vigorously creating lots of heat between them and cover your eyes, let your eyes absorb this heat. Open your eyes slowly as you lift your hands up and away.
Dr. Christiane Northrup, author of Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom says, “Healing happens in the body, not the intellect. We have to let healing work its way through us – gently, gradually, and respectfully.” Walk into the rest of your day surrendered to this possibility…
In the past students have asked me to create an audio meditation with my voice guiding them through the body scan relaxation because they like how I do to it in class. I'm thinking about doing it. Would it help you to hear the body scan meditation for your own home practice? Say yes by leaving a comment below and I may be inspired to record one and offer it here on Yoga Goddess…
Love and delight,