The Power of Interoception-Informed Yoga

Hi, everyone. Kelly Mahler here, occupational therapist, and I want to take the time to talk about the power of Interoception-Informed Yoga. Yoga is known by many people from all around the world. It’s an ancient, mind-body practice. There’s so many different forms of yoga and it is utilized in so many different settings from schools to therapy clinics, to formal yoga studios. Yoga is amazing because it can be adapted to meet the needs of a wide variety of learners in a wide variety of settings.

Yoga can be adapted for many different:

  • ages
  • learning styles
  • backgrounds and so forth

Research shows that yoga clearly has a lot of benefits. One of those benefits is improving interoceptive awareness, or nurturing that interoceptive awareness, and we wanted to give some tips on how to use yoga in an interoception-informed way, so that you can get the best interoception outcomes.

Tip #1: Explicitly Invite Learners to Notice Body Sensations

Tip number one is all about really thinking about the way that we’re using yoga to nurture interoceptive growth and we know that there are different types of teaching. There’s

  • implicit teaching and
  • explicit teaching

Implicit teaching really assumes that a person is going to pick up, or gain skill naturally by just the active participation in whatever activity it is. In this case, it’s yoga. So assuming that a person’s going to naturally just connect and be more aware of their internal interoceptive sensations through a yoga practice. What we’re trying to get better at as using some more explicit methods of instruction to nurture someone’s interoceptive growth through the use of yoga.

What this (explicit teaching) looks more like is inviting someone rather than focusing on them assuming a pose…say downward facing dog. We are shifting that, making it more explicit interoceptively,  inviting them to pay attention to how certain body parts feel while they are assuming downward facing dog; really tuning into that interoceptive feeling.

For example, How do your hands feel while they’re pressing into the mat? Or during child’s pose, how does the skin on your forehead feel when you are in this pose?

Just invitations to nurturing and noticing interoceptive sensations during a yoga practice. That’s what makes it even more of an explicit interoception journey. So shifting from a focus of assuming the pose to a focus on noticing the way your body feels during that pose, makes it more of an explicit interoception learning activity.

If you are looking for a resource to help you make this shift to using yoga as an explicit Interoceptive Awareness Builder, check out our Interoception Yoga Cards.

child's pose yoga card star yoga card rag doll yoga card

Tip #2: Always be Trauma-Informed

So tip number two, always as with all interoception work, always, always, always be trauma informed. I could speak on this for a really long time but just in a really quick nutshell, what do we mean by this?

First of all, yoga as with all of our other interoceptive awareness builders is always presented as an invitation to participate. It is never a demand that we’re placing on someone and requiring them to do this. We want to also ensure that our learners are feeling safe and regulated within their environments, within their bodies, before we can expect them to feel safe enough to tune in and start to notice how their bodies are feeling.

So really giving someone control over their yoga practice, encouraging them to make their practice their own, to always be thinking about promoting safety, promoting feelings of safety, promoting feelings of regulation and empowering people with the choice to make their practice their own, is always trauma informed.

Tip #3: Provide Interoception Language Supports

Lastly, tip number three is to think about the language supports that you may need to provide to certain learners. If you are using explicit interoception methods of teaching and asking them and inviting them to pay attention to the way certain parts of their body feel, many times people that are not in touch with their bodies are overwhelmed by their bodies. They don’t develop the language to describe what it is that they notice and this is even the case for our most brilliant learners, so providing some form of a language based support can be really helpful in inspiring people to learn to describe and understand what it is they are beginning to notice during our yoga practice.

Our Body Check Ring provides a convenient method of providing this crucial language support. 15 different menus are provided to help learners begin to describe their interoceptive sensations. Simply print and go.

Hopefully this gets your wheels spinning, thinking about how to use yoga in an interoception-informed way, to nurture that interoception growth that we know is important for every single one of us.

Until next time.

Interoception-Informed Yoga: Theory And Interactive Class

Interested in learning more about Interoception-Informed Yoga? Join Kelly and Molly LIVE on August 18th. Register Here!