The Seventh Sense…
Do you remember growing up learning about your five senses? Maybe you can even still picture the cardboard cut-outs on your kindergarten wall with the drawings of sight, taste, smell, sound and touch. Who knew that neurologists believe we have between 9 and 21 senses, perhaps some did, but I did not. Proprioception is the seventh sense, some consider it the sixth, but let’s save the sixth sense discussion for another day.
Merriam Webster defines proprioception as the reception of stimuli produced within the organism. For those of us, like yours truly, who are not scientific, essentially proprioception is when we sense of how our bodies and limbs are in space, without looking. For example, we know how to raise our arms in Warrior I without watching them. Like most of our senses we tend take our proprioception for granted. The other week, I had the joy of watching a beloved six month old practicing his new skill of rolling over. After a few head clonks on the floor, not the pleasant part for the adults in the room, he learned that if he engaged his neck muscles mid roll, his head wouldn’t hit the floor. That is proprioception.
Luckily most of us adults have the rolling over thing down pat. We also generally have ability to walk without watching our feet, or drive a car while keeping our eyes on the road, not on our hands. For the most part, we all have a sense of where our body parts are and what they are doing, but it’s amazing how we can improve our proprioception. Here’s a little experiment…take a moment and sense your ears, just think about them, where they are and how they feel. Now gently rub your left ear for about a minute, giving a bit of love, attention and focus to just your left ear. Once you stop sense your ears again. Notice how you can sense your left ear much more. Cool eh?
Your ear sense will rebalance shortly, however, it’s amazing how with focus we can improve our proprioception. What is even cooler is how improving our proprioception often sharpens our other senses. It’s why a cup of tea, or a chocolate, both always complimentary at Beyond, always taste so good after yoga class. Or why when you leave the studio the spring air always smells a little fresher than when you first ran in the door. Yoga improves our proprioception; regular yoga improves our proprioception significantly. All those little cues yoga teachers give throughout class like “drop your shoulders away from your ears”, “relax the muscles in your face” and “engage your core” help to strengthen your proprioception, sharpen your focus and increase your brain power. And really with life flying by, who doesn’t want a little more brain power?
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