How to Use Sensory Yoga Feeling Wheel

My friend and I were talking while on our daily walk. We were talking about, the Wheel of Awareness, a concept created by Dr. Dan Siegel. She was sharing about her anxiety, hormone imbalances and physiological discomfort. I shared about how feelings are nuanced during the day and how to watch for the nuances rather than wait for the highs and lows. I wanted to give her some options rather than hovering around the same group of uncomfortable feelings of overwhelm. After our walk, we sat in the car with a scrap paper and an orange fine tipped marker and made the “Feelings Circle.” In the middle, I put her name. Along the rim of the outer larger circle, we drew smaller circles. I asked my friend to give me words or feelings that made her happy and brought joy to her heart. She named cooking, puttering, her children, husband, gardening, and moving furniture. I wrote them down and placed the words in the smaller circles. I showed her how she can “shift the wheel” of her mind from the section that describes her anxiety to the more uplifting thoughts and activities.

My friend shared that she loves moving furniture around the house. I explained that moving furniture is a “proprioceptive activity” because it brings feedback through the muscles and joints, which then is calming for the nervous system. Back home, I puttered around, embodying my senses as I unpacked my groceries. I smelled the daffodils, the fresh lemon, and enjoyed the bright red color and smell of the tomatoes. I felt calmer from the proprioceptive walking, carrying groceries and the “puttering” which became a moving meditation. This experience led me to add more somatic, yoga and sensory components while creating the Sensory, Yoga, and Feeling Wheel. The body-based activities can also be used in the classroom to help children become more grounded and act as an antidote to anxiety, fear and discouragement.

In the example below, the top circle demonstrates the child’s anxiety or pre-occupying thought and feeling. This child is scared of a test. In the circles that go around clockwise are thoughts that are positive, uplifting and safe images to counter the negative fear. In all the circles including the top, are yoga and sensory activities to help shift the negative feelings with a body-based repair. All the activities use breathing, yoga and movement to shift the child’s nervous system from the sympathetic to the parasympathetic. All the activities are somatic, layering the sensory experiences into the body on a cellular level as they combine with the breathing.
•  You may wish to refer to the section on Witnessing the Mind.
•  Incorporate yoga and sensory components in all circles.
•  Record the child’s stressful event, fear or anxiety in the top circle.
•  Place in each circle one or two yoga poses, breathing, sensory, or somatic activities
•  Elicit from the child three or more positive thought constructs to ground him in safe, enjoyable and pleasant memories or activities.
•  Write one positive thought concept in each of the other circles.
•  Engage body, mind, and spirit when choosing treatment modalities.
•  Place the child’s name in the center of the circle.
•  Utilize sensory and somatic activities in the other three circles.
•  Moving clockwise, engage in the yoga poses, crossing midline, and proprioceptive activities that accompany the positive as seen in the example.
•  The last circle has breath, taste and smell (to foster connection to the limbic brain)
•  A restorative pose or Do-Nothing-Doll can be added to aid in the relaxation.