What good is a compass if you don’t know what North, East, South and West mean? Conversely, why have North, East, South and West if there’s no map to orient to them. Teaching movement based practices like and dance, yoga and traditional exercise, it’s clear to me that without internal and external awareness, we are essentially lost.
Sit up straight, close your eyes and use your ears, nose, touch, memory and proprioception to orient yourself. You can remember what’s in front of you, next to you, above you and behind you. Easy, right?
Now invert. Anything from a wide-leg forward fold to a headstand will do. Close your eyes and use your ears, nose, touch, memory and proprioception to orient yourself. Can you remember what’s in front of you, next to you, above you and behind you? Not so easy, right?
But why? Your surroundings are basically the same as when you were sitting up. How often does your brain pattern the world upside down? How many memories have you actually created upside down? Maybe 5? Yeah, me too.
Yoga is not a very upright practice requires balance and body awareness in places you haven’t explored. Mapping in inversion or in lateral tilt is like writing a map of a city you’ve never visited versus your hometown. Your brain needs time!
Below is a script to guide you in your new city.
Sit comfortably and breathe gently with your eyes closed. Listen closely to what you hear. Notice if you perceive light. Beginning with what’s in front of you, create a map of the space you are sitting in. Walls, doors, sound, pictures, color. See what is in front, and now beside…
And now above and behind you.
Create a 3D model of the space you are in, noticing prominent features on each the front, side, top and back of you. Lastly and most important, place yourself in your model. See yourself from 5-10 feet away sitting gently and breathing. For healing purposes, notice calm and positive aspects of yourself. A lengthened spine, soft breathing, relaxed forehead, overall serenity.
Gently roll through to hands and knees. Close your eyes and see yourself from 5-10 feet away. First noticing the calm and positive aspects of your practice. Now step back and re-orient. What was behind is now under, what was above is now behind, what was under is now in front. Find a calm 5 breaths here with your new orientation.
Find yourself in a forward fold and repeat. with eyes closed, see positive aspects of your practice from 5-10 feet away. Then notice was was just under is in front, what was just in front above, what was just behind is now under.
As you grow this practice and it becomes as easy as knowing your own bedroom, begin to introduce balance. Warrior III, tree, dancer and half moon are wonderful places to try once you feel at home in seated, standing and restorative postures.
Good luck and Namaste!
Study of internal and external compassing is from Bodhi Yoga in Provo, Utah.
Kiera Lucich is a neural integration specialist based in Salt Lake City, Utah. She’s the owner of Smart Move Wellness, a brain-based wellness company dedicated to educating and training people to heal chronic and trauma-associated pain. For more information visit smartmovewellness.com.