I’m sure many of you have read ‘Mindfulness for Beginners’ by Jon Kabat-Zinn. This week I have been talking to my students about the additional senses of Proprioception and Interoception that he mentions in this book.
Proprioception is your sense of place – the sense that tells you where your body is in space without having to look at it. You can raise an arm or a leg without looking at it and, importantly in yoga, you can use this sense to help you with your alignment. Are your head, neck and spine properly aligned? Is your knee over your ankle in Warrior II? Are your shoulders relaxed, or up around your ears?
Interoception is the sense that tells you how you feel. When someone asks you how you are and you say ‘Fine’ or ‘Terrible’, how do you know how you feel? This sense of Interoception allows you to know whether or not you feel well – from the inside out. Again, in yoga this sense is very important. When your teacher asks you to scan your body and identify any areas that need particular care, this is the sense you employ. When your teacher reminds you that every day is different and that you should not push your body beyond its limits for that particular day, this is the sense you employ. At the end of the practice when your teacher invites you to listen to your ‘inner teacher’ to know whether to have a full stretch or gently rock the body, this is the sense you employ.
Our bodies are truly fascinating and so very clever!