Stress + Anxiety Meet Interoception + Yoga

• interoception = less stress + anxiety •

Have you heard of interoception?

🤔

In my self regulation/nervous system journey this last year, I came upon this concept, which unlocked another “aha” moment in my healing.

In its simplest form, interoception is our ability to sense what is going on in your body (hunger, thirst, energy, heart rate, breath).

This is a relatively innate concept, yet one we block ourselves from experiencing due to stress, a long to-do list + our society-imposed expectation to be busy + productive at all times. (Sound like you, too? 🤷🏼‍♀️)

(And, if you’re skeptical + it sounds too woo-woo, science has confirmed that signals are sent by nerve endings in our brain, which help us process our emotional experiences — another physiology to emotion connection 👍🏻)

Are you aware that the more you practice interoception, the more you’re able to reduce stress + anxiety?! 🙌🏻🙌🏻🙌🏻

This is why so many people find yoga beneficial. Why we take a deep sigh of surrender + relief when we land on our mat (because perhaps it’s the first time we’ve allowed ourselves to let go all day). It’s why when we bring our awareness to the sensations in our body, we can relate to the emotional ones as well. Especially in the more still yoga practices such as meditation, pranayama (breathwork) or yin yoga, we arrive, allowing ourselves to be guided back home to our body, welcoming + observing each sensation.

Each time we conclude a practice, savasana (corpse pose) encourages us to feel the physical + emotional shifts that have taken place since we initially landed on our mat.

These practices encourage us to be more mindfully attuned in our bodies. Redirecting our senses away from tension or anxious thoughts, to one of stillness, breath + body awareness, reflection + curiosity.

Can you incorporate moments of stillness + bodily awareness today?

Personal Practice

I recently got asked the question — as a teacher, what does your personal yoga practice look like?

First, I have to say that my physical practice is not what it looked like two years, five years ago, or even ten years ago.

There’s a common misconception that to be a dedicated yogi, you need to have a vigorous daily flow practice. And for many on the path, that may be the case; but I’ve seen so so many students + teachers alike comment on how that practice changes when you’re a long time practitioner. Maybe it’s injury. Or an evolved spiritual practice. But it becomes more about meeting your body + mind exactly where they’re at.

I balance my physical practice with flows centered on slowness + fluidity, and flows centered on functional strength (as a teacher, I love this opportunity for unique sequencing to share with my students!). Sometimes it’s 15 minutes, other days it’s 90 minutes.

I meet the needs of my nervous system with a daily pranayama (breathwork) practice. My anxiety + stress levels have stabilized. I take deep solace in these techniques.

I spend time regularly immersed in either mindfulness or yoga philosophy (ask my husband, you can commonly find me under a pile of well worn yoga books, my many notebooks and highlighters 😂).

Using Oracle Cards as Messages from the Universe to Connect Within

How many of you use oracle cards? Affirmation cards?

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When I first starting using oracle cards a few years ago, I was amazed at how much connection I felt to the cards I pulled. It was as if the universe was listening and providing me with clear messages. The accuracy and intuitive depth was often just what I needed.

Like tarot cards, oracle and affirmation cards are meant to offer clarity, insight, & inspiration. I personally use oracle and affirmation decks because they’re more user friendly (tarot decks have a specific reading system, typically comprised of 78 cards, with suits that correspond to certain meanings. I have yet to delve into this system – so I wont cover that at all).

Oracle cards are typically themed in some way – fairies, angels, goddesses, or a sacred theme of some sort. When you’re purchasing your first deck (mine was the Goddess Deck), it’s good to feel as though you have some sort of connection to the theme. Afterall, your task when reading the cards is to make a connection between the message and your own life.

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This is hands down the most beautiful oracle deck I own.
The Kuan Yin Oracle by Alana Fairchild. 

Affirmation cards are very simple. Each card contains one message – it can be used as a daily affirmation or mantra. Hung on your mirror. Placed in your altar space, or somewhere you see it regularly (I have ones that have permanent places at my kitchen sink and in my closet!). These are very simple to use. There are no guidebooks, no interpretation. Just meant to plant seeds of inspiration and positivity. I always say “energy goes with intention flows”, so lets get that energy flowing towards a positive mindset!

A few favorites in my affirmation deck collection.
I highly recommend Gabrielle Bernstein & Louise Hay!

Here are a few of my favorite ways to use these cards:

  1. Pull a card daily. With your morning coffee, tea, silence, or chaos, sit down, grab your favorite deck. Connect with your intention for the day. Take a deep cleansing breath and pull a card your drawn to. Read it’s corresponding message and interpretation in the guidebook (if it comes with one).
  2. img_5324Past, present, future. Many guidebooks with explain how to do this. Clear your mind. Shuffle your deck. Pull a card for insight on each intention: a message for the past, present and future. Read the messages. You may wish to journal any thoughts or feelings that arise. {Past, present, future spread using my very first deck, the Goddess Deck.}
  3. Focus on a situation or concern. Relax. Shuffle your deck. And when you are ready, select your card. See what meanings and connections come up for you and what messages the universe wants to bless you with to help you through this life situation.
  4. Moon spreads! My second favorite reading. New and full moons are sacred self care times to me. I typically clear 45 to 60 minutes to work through my ritual. New moons are for planting seeds, setting intentions and goals for the cycle ahead. Full moons are for releasing and letting go, switching directions if need be. So each moon comes with it’s own influencing energy. I love guided spreads for my moon rituals. I love following the spreads by Ethony, a Vancouver-based tarot goddess. She typically posts these beautifully prompted tarot/oracle spreads with lunar insight and questions to guide your reading. (Check her out on Facebook here). Sam Roberts from Escaping Stars on Instagram also has some inspirational tarot spreads as well. I highly suggest journaling during this time to allow for some later reflection. Just as though you selected cards for past, present, and future, you will select a card for each question in her layout and interpret your results from there.

Above all, using these regularly, I truly feel attuned to my intuition and the path I am on. There is truly no right or wrong way to use them!

Do you have a favorite ritual you use your cards for? How to do you incorporate them into your spiritual practice? I’d love to hear from you.

Love & light,

~ nichole