Literally, “sense of oneself.” “Proprioception” is used within a medical context and defined as one’s ability to sense one’s own physical body within space and in relation to itself. This most often is applied when describing hand-eye coordination and muscle memory. I think of proprioception more conceptually and find it relevant to all aspects of life.

Proprioception consists of two major components: awareness and control. Within each component two focuses: self and surrounding. More importantly is the connection and relationship between self and surrounding. An example of how to break down the awareness component:

  • Awareness of self
  • Awareness of self in relation to oneself
  • Awareness of one’s surroundings
  • Awareness of self (and self in relation to oneself) in relation to one’s surroundings

To clarify, in this context I define “awareness” as accuracy in perception and understanding of states of being ideally without external aids. Developing both awareness and control are interrelated, work synergistically and, as I see it, the practice of yoga. I interpret samadhi as reaching a state of absolute awareness and control over oneself and subsequently connecting to the collective consciousness. To do so, it is crucial to externalize the observations of our movements, thoughts, and behaviors within the space and context we occupy. It is only in this external point of view that we have a more complete and truthful understanding of ourselves. Having good self-esteem does not mean viewing oneself positively, but thinking accurately of oneself.

In Ashtanga yoga we build awareness and control over our physical body through asana; our breath through pranayama; our mind through pratyahara, dharana, and dhyana; and our life through yama and niyama. Through our yoga practice we build up our proprioceptive senses and hopefully one day we will be to be able to observe ourselves observing ourselves observing.