UTA Course: The Science and Practice of Yoga, Week 1

I have been looking forward to this course for a while and I am so excited that it is finally underway! I have been practicing yoga and teaching for several years. Currently I am working towards my 500 RYT and I knew this course would be a great resource for my studies. Plus, students have the opportunity to partipate in a yoga research study. Awesome! This first week is meant to familiarize participants with yoga and meditation basics. Meditation has grown into the primary focus of my yoga practice over the last few months. Research Scientist Catherine Spann, Ph.D., is one of the ┬ácourse instructors. She shares Dr. Dan Siegel’s Wheel of Awareness in our week one videos. I’ve read a couple of Siegel’s books and I especially like “The Whole Brain Child.” I use his SIFT mindfulness exercise for meditation and self-regulating my emotions (and my kids).

The Wheel of Awareness takes the SIFT exercise to a deeper level. We first draw our attention to the five senses: what do I hear, taste, see, smell, and feel? The sixth sense invovles interoception or noticing the inner activities of the body: notice the heart beat, air filling the lungs, etc. The seventh sense is mental activities: what are my thoughts, hopes, worries, images, beliefs, and dreams? ┬áThe eight sense is interconnectedness outside the body: family, friends, neighborhood, state, country, and world. I like to think of this interconnectedness from the smallest, most intimate circle and then grow the reach of the innerconnectivity outwards. I believe finding a connection to nature, animals, and all of God’s creation is a beneficial step in this spoke of the awareness wheel.

At the hub of the wheel is meta-awareness (basically awareness of awareness). Meta-awareness is incredibly difficult in our culture. Everywhere we turn, distractions are waiting to steal our attention. Further, we are taught to esteem multitasking. Where will we find room for intentionality? How do we bring mindfulness to the present moment? It certainly doesn’t happen over night but the journey is worth it!

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