The last time we had a Wellness Wednesday post we were talking about Breathing…..something Yoga Instructors spend a lot of time focusing on. This time we’re going to cover another Yoga Instructor favorite: Sensing!All Five
We have all heard of the five senses before: sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch. Have you ever considered the impact of those senses? They can protect us from harm, increase our enjoyment, comfort us, give meaning to a situation and our lives as a whole, help us become more engaged in a moment…..overall our senses provide us with the information necessary to process our environment.
A Sense of Well-Being
I have written many times before about the concept of Mindfulness. In the practice of mindfulness we are bringing attention to our senses and using those details to help us improve our experiences. Shutting down our awareness can backfire. And being disconnected can also be a sign of a serious problem.
- A disconnect with pleasure can lead to over indulgence
- Artificial light can cause irritability, inattention, impulsive behavior and disrupt endocrine balance
- Too much sun can cause skin cancer while too much sunscreen can block the Vitamin D production
- Noise pollution can cause hearing impairment, but music can be soothing to the brain, the breath, the heart, and the soul
- An inability to be in silence may stem from discomfort or abandonment issues
- Smell has the ability to trigger strong emotions, yet much of what we consider to be taste is actually smell
- Lack of touch can lead to overeating, self-destructive behaviors like smoking, nail biting, pulling out hair, rubbing skin excessively, and self-mutilation,compulsive sex, physical violence/aggression, rape, and other sexual abuse; still we see being touched as putting ourselves in a place of vulnerability
In learning about all of the ways that the senses communicate to us, I came across one interesting fact:
Our extremities help us dissipate extra heat, and warm hands are typically a sign of good health.
When our bodies have a stress response, heat is diverted from our extremities to our core. Chronically cold hands and feet can be a sign of a prolonged stress response, which is unhealthy for our body systems.
When I was young my great-grandmother used to say the phrase, “Cold hands; warm heart.” I have had cold hands my entire life. My body in general is usually cold. I am the girl who wears zippies year-round….and sometimes outdoors in the summer. In college I was embarrassed during my Psych 101 class when they talked about how people who were fidgety, cold, and very thin had symptoms of an eating disorder. There I was with my leg shaking, bundled in sweats, and a whopping 118lbs at 5’8″. My cold hands and cold body have always been something I thought was normal, but maybe it’s a sign that I have some things to deal with?
As I exercise and practice yoga my body warms. During runs my hands get so warm that often I can’t wear my rings. I am relaxed and calm when exercising. I feel the same when I teach. These are places in which I am comfortable and relaxed. In other parts of my life it has not always been as such. In the last year I found myself cold and shivering in the middle of arguments. Sometimes even without knowing why. It was as if the fear was chilling me from the inside out. I would like to think, that as a yoga instructor, I know my body, but we all have our moments in which we have disconnected and stopped paying attention to the signs.
For me a sense of touch is the most amazing thing. It has so many feelings, emotions, and senses wrapped into one. Consider hugging a child. You feel that great bundle of energy in your arms. You can smell their hair, their skin, the dirt or food or whatever it is that they’ve been “into” lately. Children radiate light into your heart. You hear their giggles or soft “I love you”. And sometimes silence with a child in your arms is golden.
I encourage you to take a moment to evaluate your senses today. Maybe while you eat or shower or spend time with the ones you love….
What is your environment telling you?