Yoga Connects us to the 5 Senses
There are so many ways we can increase our awareness of the 5 senses and our sensuality throughout the day. These can include yoga practice, mindfulness, meditation, how we eat, and how we move through the day.
Read Desi Barlett and Natiya Guin’s discussion of Yoga and Sensuality, the companion piece for this story.
Touch: Tactile sense in skin receptors, connected indirectly to the Vagus Nerve
Self-adjustment in Yoga
Take your hands to your heart while in savasana and notice what thoughts come to you, or gently use your hands to lengthen your spine in seated twist and see if you can enjoy the feeling of supporting yourself.
Tickle your children’s backs while tucking them in at night and notice how they sleep, do a partner yoga pose with someone you enjoy working with who needs emotional support, or offer a shoulder massage to a friend who has had a rough day and notice how they unwind both physically and emotionally.
Sight: Optic, Trochlear, Ocular motor, and Abducent Nerves
Take time each day to look off into the distance as far and wide (peripheral vision) as possible, it is a great way to become more aware of your surroundings but it also heals your optic nerve and eye muscles that are tired from staring at objects close to you like phones and computers.
Hearing: Vestibulocochlear Nerve
Take a quiet moment to listen to your own breath, not trying to change anything. Is it fast or slow, is it shallow or deep, is it clear or congested? Now add the sound of the breath in the back of your throat on the inhale as you begin to breathe in through your nose and out through your nose (Ujjayi). Can you hear the ocean in your throat? Does it bring a sense of calm or relieve tension in your head or body?
Smell: Olfactory nerve, indirectly connected to the limbic system
When choosing aromatherapy consider how you want to feel. Aromas that wake up the olfactory nerve such as citrus can be wonderful for brightening your mood or preparing you for an important meeting. If you want to calm your mind at night, consider breathing in the smell of lavender, and to reduce stress and anxiety consider the scent of rose. Aromatherapy can be used in a room diffuser, in a bath, in a massage oil, as a steam inhalation, applied to skin, or simply inhaled.
Try adding a hearty amount of one new fresh herb such as basil to your next meal and notice how the smell makes you feel as you chop the herb while cooking, as you stir it into the sauce, as you breathe it in before you take your first bite at the dinner table. Has this increased sense of smell caused your mouth to salivate or your stomach to growl?
Taste: Trigeminal, Glossopharyngeal, and Hypoglossal Nerves
Slowing down while eating is a simple way to enjoy taste. Can you choose an organic whole food to eat and chew each bite as long as you can, until there is nothing left to chew? Did you notice flavors you haven’t before?
Keep your focus on the 5 senses throughout your day and your practice to integrate yoga and sensuality.