Sensations In Yoga: The Language of the Body
Updated: Feb 24
Have you ever been deep in the woods and heard a sound to the left or right of you? Intuitively, your eyes move in the direction of that sound to see where it’s coming from. Maybe you spot a squirrel or a bird (hopefully not a bear!) and follow it for a while with your eyes as it moves through the trees. This skill is called “tracking.”
In the embodied practices of Soma Yoga, we create a place of receptivity to perceive what’s moving within our own body more deeply. We foster and learn the ability to “track” sensation. This begins with openly paying attention to our inner world.
The Language of the Body
The body speaks to us through sensation. Sensations are felt, but we need to describe our perceptions in words that can make a bridge to the conventional world without losing the subtlety and originality of our experience. For example, we might describe sensation using words such as:
While we use dozens of words to describe sensations, it’s good to keep in mind that it is possible to experience sensations for which we have no language.
A Brief Tracking Practice
Play with tracking sensation by guiding yourself through the practice below or you can listen to a 2-minute audio recording here. (Remember: When exploring, it can be very helpful to suspend making words from what you are sensing into until you finish your practice.)
1. Close your eyes if you feel comfortable doing so.
2. While slowly wiggling the fingers of your right hand, notice the sensations of the movements.
• Can you feel anything moving in your forearm?
• Your upper arm? • Are there any sensations in your shoulder or torso?
3. Now stop moving your fingers and pause to notice if there are any residual sensations from wiggling your fingers.
4. Compare your right hand to your left hand. • Do you notice any difference(s) between your two hands? • Is there a difference between your two arms?
5. When you feel ready, open your eyes.
If you didn’t notice much, don’t worry about it. Establishing a nuanced awareness of inner sensations and experiences may take a while. This capacity will grow over time with patience and practice. If you were to try the tracking practice above several times over the next week or so, you might notice something entirely different each time.
Tracking is part of Embodied Meditation. Read more here or try this 15-minute Embodied Meditation Exploration.
Finding and Cultivating Our Innate Wisdom
Taking time to allow our bodily wisdom to reveal itself is at the heart of embodied practices like Soma Yoga. Other yoga practices often rely on external alignment cues and outdated ideals about how yoga poses “should” look based on the observations of an outer authority.
Soma Yoga teaches you to cultivate inner authority by understanding the Language of the Body - sensation. Honing this skill allows you to understand your body better and adapt your Soma Yoga practice to meet your unique needs and anatomy.
A Playground for Continued Learning
When we were babies the world was a place for natural learning. We first learned to move by interacting with gravity, the earth, and the space that surrounds us. The innate intelligence of your body - in relation to the elements around you - taught you how to hold your head up, crawl, and become mobile on a non-cognitive level.
These elements are still a playground for learning. There is untapped potential that awaits further investigation in promoting our physical, mental, and emotional health and well-being so that we can live a fully embodied life. Discover your untapped potential! Click here to learn more about our 2023 Soma Yoga Teacher Training.