Skip to main content

Natural Awakenings Atlanta

Ask a Health Coach with Hope Knosher: How can I be more connected to my body and its cues?

May 01, 2024 06:00AM ● By Hope Knosher
When was the last time you took the time to listen to your body? Not just when you’re feeling pain from a headache or an injury but also when you notice how your body is feeling?

Have you noticed how your body feels during an extended rush hour drive, before a tough conversation, after spending time with someone you love or playing with your kids?

In our hectic world, living disconnected from our bodies is easy. We inhabit, feed, hydrate and even attempt to rest them. They continue to function, yet often at a suboptimal level.

“Your body is sending you messages whether you notice them or not. These physiological signals are unique for each individual. For example, some people experience a racing heart because they’re nervous about having a tough conversation. Others feel low energy for the same reason. Stress may cause one person’s stomach to churn and another to start sweating excessively,” says Neha Sangwan, M.D. and CEO of Intuitive Intelligence and Internal Medicine Physician.

We tend to ignore the information our bodies send and the effects of stress until health issues arise. Now is an excellent time to take a few small steps toward reconnecting to your body. 

Can you listen to your body for a few minutes a day? To do so, don’t judge, worry about or try to find out how to push it even harder. Just be in your body. Connecting more deeply with your body and its cues involves cultivating mindfulness and developing a greater awareness of your physical sensations, emotions and overall well-being through sensory awareness practices. 

Here are some sensory awareness strategies that can help.

Mindful Breathing: Incorporating mindful breathing exercises into your daily routine can be incredibly beneficial for your mental and physical health. These exercises involve paying close attention to the breath entering and leaving your body and noticing the physical sensations accompanying each inhale and exhale. For example, you might focus on the rise and fall of your chest or the subtle feeling of air passing through your nostrils.

Directing your attention to your breath can help you anchor into the present moment. This can be especially helpful if you’re feeling stressed or overwhelmed, as it allows you to step back from your thoughts and emotions and observe them—without judgment. Mindful breathing can also help you cultivate a deeper connection with your body, which can be incredibly grounding and centering. 

To get started with mindful breathing exercises, find a quiet place where you won’t be disturbed, sit comfortably, and begin to focus on your breath. With each inhale and exhale, you can count your breaths or say a mantra to yourself. If your mind starts to wander—as it inevitably will—bring your attention back to your breath and continue the exercise. With practice, you’ll find that you’re able to stay focused on your breath for more extended periods and that you’re able to carry a sense of calm awareness with you throughout your day.

Yoga or Tai Chi: Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned practitioner, incorporating yoga or tai chi into your routine can be a great way to support your overall health and wellness. These practices are designed to promote mind-body awareness and can help you develop greater flexibility, strength and balance. 

Focusing on intentional breathing paired with gentle movement can help you cultivate a deeper connection with your body so you can better understand its needs. 

Physical Activity: It’s important to make regular physical activity a part of your daily routine. Depending on your preference, you could choose from various activities like walking, running, dancing, or swimming. Pay attention to how your body feels while engaging in physical activity. Notice the rhythm of your movements, how your body moves, your breathing, and any sensations of exertion or relaxation. Being mindful of these sensations can help you stay present in the moment and make the most of your physical activity. Always listen to your body and take breaks or stop if you experience pain or discomfort.

Nutrition and Hydration: Paying attention to your body’s signals regarding hunger, thirst and satiety is crucial. Eating mindfully and savoring each bite can help you tune into these cues. Notice how different foods make you feel physically and emotionally and use this information to guide your choices. Staying hydrated is also essential, so drink water regularly throughout the day and be mindful of your body’s thirst signals. By listening to your body this way, you can better understand your needs and improve your overall health and well-being.

Journaling: One effective way to monitor your physical and emotional health is to keep a journal. This allows you to record any changes or patterns you notice in your body, including bodily sensations, diet, sleep and stress levels. Reflecting regularly on your experiences can help you interpret your body’s cues and how they relate to your overall well-being. 

Journaling can also help you identify triggers that affect your physical and emotional health and develop strategies to manage and mitigate their impact. Keeping a journal can be a valuable tool for improving your self-awareness and taking a proactive approach to your health.

Self-compassion: It’s important to practice self-compassion and kindness toward yourself—especially when facing physical discomfort or challenges. Instead of criticizing your body for being unable to perform certain tasks, treat it with care and respect. Be mindful of your body’s capabilities and limitations without any judgment. 

Remember that your body is unique and has strengths and weaknesses like everyone else’s. So, be kind to yourself and have compassion for your body when it needs rest or recovery. This will help you deal with physical discomfort and challenges more effectively and improve your mental well-being.

Body Awareness Practices: There are a variety of sensory-focused, body awareness practices that can help you better understand your body and build a stronger connection with your physical self. Progressive muscle relaxation, for example, involves tensing and then systematically releasing different muscle groups. This exercise helps you become more aware of sensations in your body and releases any physical tension you might be holding. 

Another practice is body-focused mindfulness, which involves bringing awareness to different parts of your body and noticing the sensations or feelings that arise and—without judgment or analysis. This, too, can help you cultivate a greater awareness of the present moment and a deeper connection with your body. 

The body scan is an example of a body-focused practice that can facilitate sensory awareness. It can help you tune into your body, ground you where you are, heighten your senses and help you relax on a deeper level. You can do a body scan anywhere, sitting, standing, or lying down.

Here are eight simple steps to bring you a deeper sense of connection with your body and senses.

  1. Find a comfortable position and settle in, feeling supported and relaxed.
  2. Either close your eyes or find a soft gaze with no particular focus.
  3. Take a few deep breaths as you bring awareness to your breath.
  4. Once settled, bring your awareness to your whole body. Feel your body being supported.
  5. Scan your body, starting at the crown of your head and working your way down to your feet.
  6. As you focus on the areas of your body, be as detailed as you want to be.
  7. Rest briefly before moving your focus to another area of your body.
  8. When your mind wanders and you become aware, bring your focus back to the last area of focus and continue.
If you fall asleep, no worries. Once you awaken, take a few deep breaths and continue from wherever you remember being last. Once you have scanned your whole body, take a few mindful breaths and notice how you feel after the practice. Then feel free to move gently back into your day.

Sensory awareness also involves paying attention to the variety of sensory experiences throughout the day, such as the feel of the sun on your skin, the sound of the wind in the trees and the textures and tastes of food. By tuning in to your senses and becoming more aware of the sensations in your body, you can develop a greater understanding of embodiment and connection with your physical self.

By incorporating sensory awareness practices like these into your daily routine, you can develop a deeper connection with your body and cultivate a greater awareness of its cues, ultimately supporting your overall health and well-being. ❧
Based in Atlanta, Hope Knosher is the founder of Healthy Living with Hope, offering health coaching, yoga classes and retreats. She is a national board-certified health and wellness coach, a certified yoga therapist and a certified E-RYT 500 yoga teacher. Contact her at 770-789-7782.
Mailing List

Subscribe To Our Newsletter!

* indicates required