Cultivating Intuition with Yoga : The theory
Meditation is the first and foremost effective method for honing on your intuition. By creating spaces between your thoughts, two things are sure to happen. First, we learn to relax. Relaxation is a natural byproduct of meditation and a calm, focused mind. Second, from the space we create our intuition will seep through the tension and stress into our awareness.
In traditional yoga scripts, we learn yoga asana as a preparation for meditation. In today’s modern world, we tend to value doing, thinking, and accomplishing over stopping, resting and relaxing. As an American, I can tell you that we normally asking “what you do for a living?” in the first few minutes of meeting someone. We naturally want to have a good solid answer to that question, so we strive to thrive. We allow ourselves to drift away from the nothingness, the spaciousness and the restfulness that is necessary for a healthy, happy and balanced life.
I would like to tell you a little story. My sweet aunt recently has lost her husband of 40+ years. She has always been deeply empathetic, feeling others pain deeply and compassionately. She is no stranger to anxiety and depression. Since her husband passed a few months ago, she has not sat down. She refuses to stop moving, doing and being busy, because when she does, she has to face all the sadness that comes flowing out. This space we are creating isn’t a walk in the park. It can be deeply difficult. That is why I look at yoga asana as a practice where we start to integrate mindful practices into our busy, lives. A step in the right direction.
When we find ourselves so deeply lost inside our grief, depression, anxiety. When we are staying busy in mentally, with thought after thought about thought, this is when we can come back to the physical practice of yoga, asana. We start this journey by creating space with movement and with breath.
So here it is.
Cultivating Intuition with Asana ::
Our Intention for this practice is to create space. Space is the substratum from which all elements emerge. Space is where our inner guidance, aka our intuition, seeps through.
We can create more space in an asana practice both in our minds and our bodies by moving in rhythm with our breath. By holding the poses a little longer, we have brief moments of breath-focused meditations throughout the practice. Flow mindfully as one would in tai chi. Look at this practice as a moving meditation and you are sure to create an “ah-ha” moment.
When we feel the calm pause of stillness that exists between our inhale and exhale, this is the space where intuition lives.
This specific blog post was written for a more invigorating yang yoga style. Next week, I will add a yin yoga style sequence for cultivating intuition.
What to Include in An Intuitive Yoga Practice:
Diaphragmatic breathing :: Breathing into your gut. The stomach is directly connected to the stress and relaxation sensors of your nervous system. concentrating on the breath will calm the entire nervous system, which will spread relaxation into your gut. You know the saying, “Trust your Gut?” That is the idea here.
Hand on heart and belly and cycle breath around and into stomach. moving qi. we are sending chi through the heart meridian and into solar plexus chakra.
STOMACH MERIDIAN : TRUST YOUR GUT
The subtle body within the belly is the primary source for intuition. Scientifically it looks like this, we have an enteric nervous system which processes independently of our cranial brain. I believe our stomach is our intuitive brain and sensory powerhouse. When we are stressed or anxious, this is the first place we show the symptoms of those feelings. Independent magazine states that “Irritable bowel syndrome, that spectrum of general digestive unpleasantness, afflicts an estimated 10 to 20 per cent of the UK population” Incidences are far higher in Europe and North America than in developing countries. here are doctors that claim that Alzheimers and autism could be caused by an imbalance in stomach microbes. In the past 10 years, type 1 diabetes has increased over 24%. And my personal experience with my father is that diet is revolutionary to minimizing the devastating symptoms for MS patients. And stress seems to be the main link. Do not get me started on obesity in America.
In the western world, the condition of our digestion is becoming a first world crisis. The general population in the west seems to value education and monetary value over intuition and general wellbeing. Modern day society is wrecking havoc on our digestive health, making us less instinctive, less intuitive, and less in tune with what we need to be happy and healthy.
The stomach meridian runs directly through the psoas. Since the top of the psoas attaches to the spine right around the diaphragm, when the psoas contracts it pulls on the spine, limiting spinal movement, which in turn restricts the movement of the diaphragm. The less freely the diaphragm moves, the less easily you breathe and the more anxious you feel. Thats why the stomach meridian is directly related to breathing, and breathing is directly related to relaxation. Badda Bing Badda Boom.
Poses that stimulate the stomach Meridian :
Viradhrasana | Warrior :: In the warrior postures, we practice opening our chest and heart, engaging our core, grounding ourselves firmly into the ground. A pose of courage and confidence, imagine drawing in the nutrients of the earth from the soles of the feet, (in TCM, the earth element is the element of the stomach). This back leg in this pose engages the psoas which is a thick band of stomach meridian fascia.
Other poses that engage the psoas and activate the stomach meridian. Dragon, Hero, Pigeon, hanumanasana
ARM BALANCES :: Following your path takes courage. To live the life you dream you must confront your anxieties and insecurities. You must learn to live more adaptably and with less predictability. You must learn to float. Floating takes strength, and that is exactly what arm balances teach us.
Arm Balancing Poses:
Bakasana | Crow :: When one learns Crow pose, we are taking a leap of faith. We are cultivating immense strength and confidence, looking our fears in the face (face planting into the ground) and floating free of gravity.
Other arm balancing poses worth considering: Side Crow (Parsva Bakasana), Handstand (Adho Mukha Vrksasana), Eight Angle Pose (Astavakrasana), Scorpion Pose (Vrschikasana)
BACKBENDS: Backbends lengthen and create space in the stomach meridian. They open the heart and require minute and subtle calibration within the inner ear. Let me rephrase that : creating space in the stomach. Yes, yes, yes.
Urdhva Danurasana | Upward Bow, Bridge Pose :: When you turn your focus to the pelvis, pressing your pelvis upward stretching the meridian at the front of the hip, you are stimulating the stomach meridian from the foot all the way to the face. Then top off all these intuitive benefits with one of the most powerful, allowing yourself to be open and vulnerable, generating trust. You are creating immense space in the front of the body while opening the heart. This pose is incredibly beneficial in activating your in intuition. Open your heart a little more everyday, you wont regret it.
Other back bending poses worth considering: Sphinx, Camel, Bow
TWISTS : Twists are incredibly detoxifying. Twists are known to help with indigestion and stagnant bowels. One of the best space-making poses on this page are the twists. Getting rid of what you dont need is the first step to make room for what you do. Make space for your intuition. Over and Over and over again.
Sage Marichi 1 | Marichasana A :: calms your mind, extends your spine, and gives your internal organs a healthy squeeze.
Other twists :: Supine twist with straight legs (Jathara Parivartanasana B), Revolved Triangle (Parivrtta Trikonasana), Twisting Chair (Parivritta Utkatasana)
INVERSIONS :: An inversion is any pose where your hips are higher than your heart. When the blood moves towards the head, we tend to stimulate the hormonal glands in the brain as well as the two chakras of the head. Any yoga asana where the forehead is pressed down against the ground is activating the 6th, and tends to be calming. And any yoga asana where the crown chakra is pressed down against the ground is activating the 7th chakra, tends to be energizing. All inversions are beneficial for enhancing our intuition.
The 7th chakra, Sahaswara, is located on the crown of the head and means 100 petal lotus. The lotus flower is famous for grow out of the murkiest most polluted waters and turning into a beautiful bloom. The crown chakra is incredibly important in our enlightenment process. Tibetan Buddhists believe that intuition is your spiritual guide to enlightment. YES, true divinity my friends! It is all coming together. Get upside down. Flush your third eye and your crown chakra with
Sirsasana | Headstand :: When the blood flushes blood to the pituitary and pineal gland, which are massive players in our stress-releasing hormones. By turning it upside down, we calm the mind, increase focus, improves digestion, flushes the adrenal glands, stimulated the lymphatic system and strengthens your core. Need more? You learn courage and strength while learning to see things from a different perspective.
Other poses to activate sahaswara chakra, 7the chakra : wide legged forward folds, downward dog .
The 6th chakra is the Ajna, in the area of the third eye. It encompasses the pituitary gland, eyes, head, and lower part of the brain. Ancient yoga tradition says that this is your intuitive center. Ajna means “beyond wisdom,” This is the knowledge that comes beyond books, education, previous experience. Ajna is best balanced through meditation. Almost all poses that you will have your third eye pressed onto the floor are deeply relaxing and rejuvenating poses.
Anahatasana :: Opens the heart, stretches the entire stomach cavity, activating the stomach meridian and relaxes the mind. By placing the forehead (third eye) on the ground you are stimulating the chakra known for intuitive powers.
Other poses to activate the 6th chakra, agna :: Balasana (child’s pose), Dolphin Pose, Scorpion (Pincha Mayurasana),
Shavasana : Relaxation. Best. Thing. You. Can. Do. For. Yourself. If we relaxed as much as we strived, there would be no wars. If we rested as much as we run, there would be no fatigue. If our weekends were exchanged for our weekdays, maybe then we wouldn’t use time as an excuse to not take care of ourselves. Take care. Take rest.