Y’all might remember that I loved Kelly McGonigal‘s “Befriending the Body” workshop at last summer’s Being Yoga conference at Omega. So I was very happy when she told me about her new book, Yoga for Pain Relief, and so generously offered a guest blog post ~ and mp3 to practice with! Read on to see what she has to say about this lovely practice, “Listening to Your Body“:

Consider how you would describe a true friend. For starters, you feel comfortable around her. You feel at home and free to be yourself. Being around her puts you in a better mood. When you’ve had a bad day or are anxious, you might feel a need to connect with her. You can count on her to be there for you when you need her. You also care about her well-being, and you know that you would be there for her in a time of need. You enjoy helping her. When she has a problem, you listen. You look for ways to make her happy. You encourage her when she’s down. You see the good in her, even when she can’t. You are proud to be associated with her. You are grateful for her and can’t imagine life without her.

Does this sound like how you feel about your body? Or does it sound hopelessly different from your relationship with your body—so ridiculous that you can’t imagine anyone feeling that way about his or her body?

One of the greatest gifts of yoga is the chance to redefine your relationship with your body—the companion that has been with you through every moment of your life, and will be with you for the rest of this journey.

Befriending Your Body

The following reflection will help you get in touch with the part of you that wants to nurture your body. It also gives your body’s wisdom a chance to surface.

Begin this reflection with a few minutes of quiet rest. This will mark a clear shift from the attitude of just getting your body through the challenges of the day, to a willingness to listen to your body.

Start the reflection process by asking your body, “What do you need?” Or, if it feels more natural, “What do I need?” Then, ask your body one or more of the following questions:

1. “Is there anything that you need more of that I can give you?”
2. “What do you need a break from?”
3. “What would nourish you best?”
4. “Is there anything I’m doing that you’d like me to do less of?”
5. “What have I been not allowing you to do that you’d like permission
to do again?”
6. “Is there anything I should know?”

You might be surprised by what comes up in this reflection. Try not to reject anything. Keep an open mind. Needs that have been ignored or denied have a way of going under cover. They may only be comfortable revealing themselves to a mind that welcomes all thoughts with curiosity and compassion.

You can also download or stream a guided meditation that takes you through these questions at Kelly McGonigal’s website: http://yogaforpainrelief.com/ListeningtoYourBody.mp3