What is Embodiment?

Embodiment & Yoga

With the world’s biggest ever educational conference taking place in October 2020 – The Embodiment Conference, I thought I’d explain embodiment from a yoga perspective.

Yoga is a great place to start experiencing embodiment. During a yoga practice we are focusing on improving our awareness of physical sensations and how our body might respond to different situations. This initially begins with experiencing how our body reacts to different postures, how our muscles might engage and support us, and which areas stretch or contract. But as our experience grows our awareness develops beyond these purely physical aspects.

Exploring your Edge

During last term’s group yoga classes, we focused on testing our boundaries. We explored this from a physical perspective, trying some more challenging postures. I asked people to focus on finding their boundary – the place that tested the edge of their balance and strength but to try not push beyond it. We explored how to find this edge on a physical level but also explored how this triggers emotional reactions for people. Instinctively we may find that we want to push beyond our edge – wanting to achieve the un-compromised posture. Or we might feel cautious and resistant to explore an unfamiliar place, wishing to remain in the safety of our familiar experiences. If we can recognising when we are experiencing an emotion, and identify what it is, we can alter how we respond and react to situations.

All emotional experiences start with physical reactions, such as temperature increasing skin tingling, our breath and heart rate changing. We may feel sensations such as lump in our throat, a tightening of our chest or fluttering in our stomach. When we become more aware of these sensations we can recognise when an emotion has shown up.

Embodiment is defined as a tangible or visible form of an idea, quality, or feeling.

Therefore, in my view, if we improve our awareness of bodily sensations and reactions on many levels, we are building an embodiment practice. Embodiment practices help us to become more attuned to notice how our body responds to emotional triggers and environmental stimuli through changes in the physical sensations and feelings you experience.

You can practice yoga in a way which isn’t an embodied practice where you are purely working with the physicality of the practice. However, traditional yoga teachings will always incorporate how our mind engages and responds to practice. The practice can be seen as a mirror reflecting aspects of ourselves back to us, we just need to learn to observe the reflection.

“I’d argue an “embodied” yoga is one which takes the perspective that yoga can be used to become aware of, and build, our way of being.” 

Mark Walsh, The Embodiment Conference Director

What I love about teaching yoga in more depth is how it can relate to so much of our lives off the mat. Yoga can form a foundation to building more of an embodied approach to how you live. When we look at weaving ancient yoga teachings alongside modern Western teaching there’s a rich tapestry for us to fully explore live.

I’m really excited to be able to finding out more about what world-class international teachers have to share. at The Embodiment Conference 2020 and know it will inform my own self-awareness and how I deliver yoga teachings in the future.

Young woman - yoga warrior pose

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