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10 Easy Ways to Connect with Your Body

November 21, 2014

yoga retreat mexico

Our body and mind are of the same whole.

Our mind steers the ship and our body carries us forward. When we are overworked or emotionally imbalanced our mind floats off on its own, leaving our body in a shell to fend for itself. Whether it’s a quick pick me up or an elaborate workout, stirring up the body brings the mind back to the present, along with a propensity for clarity, focus and energy. Here are ten ways to get back on the saddle and reconnect to your body:

1. Do Yoga

This one’s a given but there’s always room for new exploration. Class aside what does your body NEED today? Abby Tucker suggests getting in your daily vitamins — 5 poses that your body needs daily to wake up, focus and revitalize. Flow into the areas that need a little love today, stretch into the pockets that are a bit tight, and breathe into the spaces that need a bit more heat. Stirrup the cauldron and tap into your body.Spring_Awakening_010

2. Jump in a Cold Shower

Before you run off — here me out. You know that refreshing feeling of splashing cold water on your face? Try it for your entire body. Or you can start warm and finish cold. The therapeutics of a cold shower brings a rush of fresh blood through the entire body. The after affects: a heightened sense of awareness in the body, a metabolic boost and eagle-eyed focus. Try it for 60 seconds! Variations: go for a swim or surf up some winter swells.

3. Sing

Put on your favorite song, crank up the volume, close your eyes and sing — sing like there’s no tomorrow! Feel the vibration, feel your emotions, feel the energy of your voice take space. Need a little privacy? Try the bathroom, jump in the shower or hop in the car. The voice that blossoms opens the body and the heart!

4. Grab a Snack

Research suggest crunchy and sour foods have a tendency to keep us alert. As you snack — follow the texture, listen for the crunch, savor the juiciness and let the sweet and the saltiness collide in your mouth. What lingers? What permeates as you eat? Draw yourself into your sensations and allow your body to nourish.

5. Find your Balance, literally….

Balancing has a magical way of cutting through the clutter and bringing you directly to the present. Drop into tree pose. Do a quick headstand. Pick a pose and draw your awareness into the point of contact with the ground. Play with your weight – notice where you’re stiffening – notice where you can soften and relax. Longer holds will provide more room for the body to tune-in and adjust while more challenging poses will warrant immediate pin-point focus.tulum-yoga-handstand

6. Hold your breath

We’ve all heard the saying, “take a deep breath, it’ll make your feel better.” Sure, but what about the other half of holding onto your precious breath? One of my favorite ways to reconnect to my body is working through a few rounds of breath retention which not only increases oxygen intake, but also activates the full range of our respiratory system. Start with a full inhale on a count of 4. Allow the air to permeate your chest and saturate into the abdomen. At the top of the inhale, hold the breath for 8 counts. Allow the throat and jaws to relax and any ‘holding’ tension to soften. As you exhale, offer a slight restriction in the breath, allow the breath to release on a count of 8. Try it for 6-10 rounds. Allow prana to flow deeply through your entire system.

7. Walk barefoot

Take off your socks and go for a stroll. Walk upstairs. Play on the carpet. Feel the bare wood on the deck. Venture out a little further — feel the dampness of the grass and warmth of the concrete. Picture the bottom of your feet — your kneels — your arches — your little toes as they turn and move. Allow your feet to wake up and explore.

8. Dance n’ Groooove

Crank up the music and bring out the drums! Dancing is one the most primal ways to awaken the body. Drop your thoughts at the door, close your eyes and FEEL. Close your eyes and listen in. Allow sound to take hold and move your impulses. Find the fluidness of your joints, the weight of your bones and let your body swirl, shake and flow. Variations: snag a partner and start a dance party!

9. Run for the Hills

Trail running holds two pieces of magic for me: an opportunity to be in nature and the uncertainty of terrain. Call it a fight or flight reaction, or perhaps its just deeply ingrained muscle memory, our body has an amazing capacity to react in a moving environment. Find your pace on the trails and turn up your senses. Let your body feel the motion of a quick turn, a fast decline, the change of foundation from soft earth to hard rocks. Connect into your body and let your legs free you.

Point Reyes Sunset

10. Get a Massage

Treat yourself to a massage, a little love and care for the body is always a sure way to reconnect. If that’s not an option at this moment, give yourself some love. Start with the head and massage the fingers through the entire scalp. Using long firm strokes glide your hands from head to toe. Grip and release the larger muscle groups first and then work into more delicate areas like the neck and feet. When you are done, take a moment and let it sink in. Welcome home body… welcome home.

Give one of these practices a try and let us know how you feel!

Written By: Zaq Jiang

Zaq is a yoga instructor based in Oakland, CA. He holds the elements of nature as his highest refuge and inspiration for life. As a student of Mysore Ashtanga, Hatha and Vipassana Meditation, his vessel for sharing yoga glides between strong biomechanic synergy to silent inquisitions in the space beyond the body. Follow his adventures and visual musings on Instagram @zaqoriah, and find more by Zaq at YOGASCAPES and Wildsoul.