Intuitive Yoga: What, Why, How?
What is Intuitive Yoga:
Intuitive yoga is a fairly new concept considering yoga itself is an ancient practice. While its origin does lie in the specified poses or asanas that make up a traditional yoga class, intuitive yoga is different in the way that it does not follow a set sequence of asanas, rather, it encourages the student to tune in to their bodies and move in a way that feels good to them. While there aren’t a lot of Intuitive Yoga classes offered at studios (as far as I could find!), it is very easy to do at home. All you need is a mat, some music (if you’d like) and a basic knowledge of yoga.
Why You Should Try Intuitive Yoga:
One of the main benefits of any type of yoga is the calming of the nervous system. Whether we know that we’re experiencing stress or not, synchronizing our breath with body movements is one of the quickest and most effective ways to turn off the sympathetic nervous system and enter a state of relaxation and recovery. Being in this calm state has numerous health benefits, including allowing the digestive system to function optimally.
Another benefit of intuitive yoga is the release of somatic stress, or stress held in the body. Some of the main areas where we hold stress are:
Doing any type of movement that involves these areas is beneficial, but moving in sync with your breath is even better.
How to do Intuitive Yoga:
Begin lying face-up on your mat and take some deep breaths in through the nose and exhaling through an open mouth. Relax your abdomen on your inhale, letting it expand to make room for the lungs to fill fully. Engage your core muscles at the bottom of the exhale to press every last drop of air out before inhaling again. With each exhale, imagine releasing all of your muscles, letting your body melt down into the mat. After about 7 rounds of breath, bring your hands above your head on an inhale, lacing your fingers and pushing your palms behind you, exhaling to point your toes and extend your body to be as long as possible. Now you’re ready to gently bring your knees into your chest, grab your shins, and rock side to side. From here, the intuitive yoga really begins.
Tune into your body and see what it is asking for; does it want to come into Happy Baby to open the hips? Does it want to roll around and be playful? Does it want to stand up and find some powerful warrior poses? Follow your breath, tune in, and see where your body takes you. Now is the time to release self judgment and expectations, and just move freely.
Here are some movements to get you started:
Hands on hips, feet a bit wider than shoulder width, bend your knees and move your hips in a circle like you’re doing the world's slowest hula hoop
Inhale to reach hands above the head, looking up, exhale to bend the knees and hinge at the hips, coming into a forward fold. Inhale to bend the knees and come back up
Literally rolling around on the ground in Happy Baby pose
Lying on your back and coming into a twist by bending the knees to 90 degrees and letting them fall to one side, relaxing your abdominal area
Give Intuitive Yoga a try and let us know how it goes! Happy moving!
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