Wednesday, August 3, 2011
Intuitive Yoga: What Yoga Pose Would You Invent?
Copyright Lance Kinseth, Wisdom Mirror / Chikan, 2011
The Zebra Lift, The Underdog, The Praying Mantis, The Crouching Tiger,
The Turtle Tuck, The Reverse Cowgirl, The Sideways Zebra,
The Stretching Kitty, The Weeping Willow, The Bunny Tuck,
The Croppy Flop…
[What Yoga Pose Would You Invent, from “On The Street,”
Juice, Des Moines Register, Wednesday, July 6, 2011]
INTUITIVE YOGA: There is no right or wrong. Practice is ultimately change, freshness, unwalled—a fluid, open landscape. Body-mind practices are open-ended formats rather than rigid, archaic systems. Deep body-mind traditions offer a rich container of experience that can open an endless landscape of opportunities rather than be complete. Deep traditions are perhaps more like cairns—piles of stones, solid landmarks—along the path of practice that falls into the future.
Like any body-mind practice, yoga evolves over time. Chinese martial practices attributed to Bodhidharma in mid-500s A.D. have gone from a handful of techniques to uncountable, myriad techniques. In aikido, the founder, Morehei Ueshiba has said, “the techniques of aikido are endless.” Similarly, yoga has expanded into many styles, and as yoga has become a global practice, it has been colored by diverse cultural practices. Further, each individual brings a unique set of body conditions and life experience to practice, and yoga is enriched by this diversity.
When it comes to manipulating the body, it must be recognized that the body is complex beyond our understanding. All anatomy books fail to capture its physical morphology, not to mention aspects such as meridians and charkas that are described in Eastern theories. The body’s unthinking design-wisdom is billions of tested years in the making. The body knows what to do to optimize health. For all of our gains, contemporary science opens our ignorance, with well over ninety percent of the universe remaining unknown, and subject to completely changing reversals of that which we think we have tested as reality. As a result, intuitive practice becomes important to access the unthinking wisdom of the body.
Intuition: “to look inside,” “to contemplate.” Intuition has played a significant role-serendipity—in major scientific breakthroughs: Newton’s apple, Archimedes’s measurement of volume, Einstein’s space-time, and molecular structures such as benzene and DNA. Rather than “coming out of nowhere” or being essentially something previously untaught, the intense focus on resolving problems, with pervious experiences and increasing information, were critical in opening a new rational door. Similarly, a rich history of body-mind practice offers experience and increasing information that might be able to lead to new dimensions of practice.
A caveat: Intuition requires some self-checking—a strong sense of keeping open rather than answering and “righteousness.” Positively, intuition experiences often have a rich aesthetic quality and may evoke rich emotions. However, bursts of elation and strong answers might be distractions. While “healthy” in the way that it breaks through normal expectations, intuition provokes imagery and information that is subjective vs. objective, and that cannot necessarily be justified. In intuition, the inherent wisdom arrives in implicit rather than explicit forms—apples, bathing, a dream of a snake. And while personal directions may be offered, they are likely to be metaphorical and somewhat cloud-hidden, taking time to come to increasing clarity.
Each practice session is a step into the future, fresh, unpredictable, rather than a recreation of historical, set, stone-solid wisdom. Sometimes a “mistake” is more effective than the traditional response. A primary objective of body-mind practice is to listen. Body-mind practices literally focus on body and mind far more than everyday activity does. Sequences of rest/release/cooling, flow/motion and tension/heat will offer shifts that are “listening points” where metaphors may suddenly come to awareness that are saying things to us about the needs of the body as well as offering directives for our lives. Sometimes the “answers” may come as questions.
In the immanent moments of practice, what is it that the body needs? In ongoing practice and extending into everyday life, what is it that might be offered? Intuitively, emerging questions offer authentic answers of sorts in the uncertain context of the vast universe. Questions may become opening gateways.
Restorative yoga and yin yoga—stressing calmness and extended time in poses--offer fertile ground for intuitive practice. This is because they offer a rich opportunity to do one thing well—to listen to the body [sensations and unsolicited “messages” of recall and fresh mental images that might offer insights into immediate physical needs to be addressed in the next posture as well as in all other aspects of life], thus, optimizing “intuition.”