Embodiment and interoceptive awareness are at the heart of what it means to practice yoga. We talk all about the mind-body connection in yoga, and these two words describe their relationship. What's the difference between the two closely related concepts?
Embodiment is the lived experience of having a body.
Interoceptive awareness is the ability to sense moment-to-moment what's going on in the body.
To be human is to be embodied, but sometimes we lose touch with sensation in the body. Or, more often, our sense of what our bodies need at any given moment can be dulled.
There are so many reasons why we may lose interoceptive awareness over time. As a society, we place so much value on intelligence that we can exist much more in our heads than in the body
Embodiment is why bringing our awareness down to our hands, our hearts, or our feet can be so powerful. It's why walking barefoot in the dirt can bring us back to a sense of child-like joy. It's why shaping dough with our hands can open up soft, squishy parts of ourselves we thought we may have lost. And it's why laying still and watching the breath in the belly and chest can awaken parts of our internal awareness that may have laid dormant for years.
I gush about embodiment only because I know so well what it means to have lost connection with my body and slowly regained it. In many ways, parenting has hushed me from talking about my eating disorder - my silent rebellion that once dominated much of my daily thoughts. But underneath the desire to allow my children to grow freely from any baggage from my past is the awareness that talking about it is important to their ability to thrive.
For me, yoga was so healing in allowing me to feel at home in my body again. So was traveling to France, where I learned food could be vibrant sensory enrichment and an experience steeped in pleasure. These are lessons I hope to transmit to my children, even if never quite master the accent or flair of my host mother in Nice.
I hope to write recipe books filled with foods for embodied eating someday. But for now, I only have short baby naps to write. And since baby oakleaf is beginning to stir, here it is -- the link to my interview, where I provide a short introduction to embodiment and interoceptive awareness and nerd out on The Body Keeps the Score and parenting as yoga. Enjoy!