Why Improve Body Awareness?
Improving body awareness makes it easier to fix problems yourself when they arise.
As an example, I was experiencing shoulder pain when lifting my arms or reaching them out to the sides. It also strongly inhibited my ability to do wheel pose.
While meditating on the muscles of my body I moved my focus to my diaphragm. I noticed that the right side wasn't activating, or at least wasn't activating as much as the left side.
There was a noticeable lack of sensation on my right side compared to my left. In particular I could feel a change in sensation on the left side of my waist but not my right. I then focused on trying to activate my diaphragm in such a way that it created the same feeling on both sides.
At the time I didn't think this related to my shoulder pain. But then while doing wheel pose I decided to focus on activating my diaphragm, along with contracting the psoas (which had been my main focus for so long I'd forgotten to be aware of everything else.) I focused on pulling my kidneys towards my throat to activate my psoas.
Guess what. No shoulder pain. Wheel pose actually felt easier. Not easy, but easier than it had been in a while.
The Diaphragm Connects to the Shoulders
If I'd come across this by accident, (which I sort of did,) but didn't know about body awareness, I could just have done a post called "the diaphragm is connected to the shoulder" and taught people how to fix their shoulder pain by making sure that their diaphragm was fully operational.
The problem with that "formulaic approach" is that shoulder pain may or may not be caused by a partially inactive diaphragm.
Instead, what I am trying to sell is the idea of improving both body awareness and ones ability to control their own body
By being increasingly more body aware I can learn to feel which muscles are activating or deliberately activate (or relax muscles) by looking for the feeling of activation or relaxation.
I can notice what is active and what is not and I can make choices. Hmm, lets try to activate the diaphragm and see what happens. Now what if I relax this muscle.... ah, not such a good idea. I'll keep that relaxed...
By being aware of my body I can fault find it, I can become my own mechanic.
(To feel my diaphragm one exercise I do is belly breathing or diaphragmatic breathing.)
To Think (Stupid Fuse)
It reminds me of a time my dad picked me up on his motorbike.
It was night time and when he started his bike the headlight didn't work.
I can't remember what we checked, or if we checked anything at all. I think we assumed the bulb was busted and so we rode home in stealth mode.
Later on checking the manual, we decided to check the fuses.
Dagnabbit, the fuse for the headlight was oversize and it'd slipped from it's brackets.
A simple fix and if we'd checked we could have sorted out the problem before we road home.
Replacing a Feed Cover (When the Problem Was a Missing Circlip)
A similiar incident occurred when I was in the army. My job was fixing guns.
On the ranges someone was having a problem with their machine gun not feeding properly.
I took a quick look and figured out that the top cover feed mechanism was broken so replaced the top cover. Later on taking a closer look I found that the problem was that a clip had fallen of.
I could have fixed the problem by just replacing that tiny little clip.
Now I had to clean the top cover I'd taken of so that I could put it back in our spares pack.
While I had fixed the problem the fix wasn't as elegant as it could have been had I looked a little bit more closely.
Inspecting out own body, from the inside out.
When we work at improving body awareness we develop the ability to fault find our own body. We can then sense our body so that we can do the equivalent of being able to check a fuse or see if a clip has fallen of. But instead of using our eyes we use our muscles. That's because our muscles not only move our body, they allow us to sense it.
Why improve body awareness, Quick links
- Breathing Anatomy For Yoga Teachers: Easily Feel your Breath by Understanding Your Breathing Anatomy
- Feeling of muscles activating (proprioception and flow)
- Psoas Major Anatomy: How the Psoas connects to the 12th ribs and kidneys
- Respiratory Diaphragm: Learning to feel and control it