Intro to Interoception
For as long as I can remember I have used my heartbeat as my own metronome for breath exercises. When working with nadi shodhana, for example, I'll use the rhythm of my heart to count the puraka (inhale), antar kumbhaka (held breath), rechaka (exhale) and bahir kumbhaka (held breath out). It always made sense to me. What I hadn’t always realized I’d been doing was practicing and honing my interoceptive skills. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
I will often ask students in class to pause and feel their heartbeat as a way to get out of their heads and into their bodies. This very simple pause to practice and feel more deeply than the muscles and joints is training this same interoceptive awareness.
Now what is interoception and why does it matter? Interoception is defined as 'awareness of one's own internal body state, our sense of the body's own internal signals. Interoception is essential to our sense of embodiment, motivation and well being.' It's that ‘gut feeling’ or instinctive sense. Interoception is sensing that something’s wrong or off, even sensing that something is right and good for you. What's so important is that if these interoceptive nerve receptors are dull, we lose touch with all of these super important bodily messages. Our nervous system needs training just like our muscles do. Science is beginning to prove the import of interoception and finding that it can help with anxiety, depression, self-acceptance and eating disorders. Conversely the lack of intero-awareness is linked to IBS, fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue!
And think, all we need to do is take moments to pause and practice feeling our heartbeat. Looking forward to tonight's class where we'll explore this and more!