The practice of yoga can be considered intuitive in the sense that it reminds us to slow down and breathe. Yet, I know firsthand that it can sometimes be challenging, while moving through a flow in class, to not pay attention to the gorgeous person on the mat next to me, who exalts in deep backbends and effortlessly hops into a perfect handstand. That’s when matters become competitive, and competition is far from intuitive.
Today, my idea of what yoga is or what it ought to be is very different from the understanding of the person on the mat next to me. Some claim that Kundalini is the only way to go, that it helps them to tune into their higher selves, to develop better self-discipline. Others might like traditional Hatha yoga, holding each pose for eight full breaths, not rushing to move. Then there are the serious Ashtangis who love a sweaty challenge. Want to know a secret? I have been the Ashtangi wannabe, looking forward to the funky pretzel-like twists, binds, and deep backbends. Several years later, I was known to express the now embarrassing, stand-offish statement that the only real yoga is traditional Hatha yoga. Then, I changed my tune when I found a happy medium in Vinyasa Flow.
Today, I gravitate toward a natural movement-based practice, flowing in soft, seemingly effortless dance-like undulations from one pose to the next, with some pilates and barre exercises thrown into the mix. On other days, I unwind with Yin and restorative poses after a long walk. To me, that is the definition of intuitive movement. It’s about practising in a way that feels best to me. These days, my body whispers to me to move a bit slower, taking the time to enjoy each moment, to move beyond the pose and flow from within.
The same applies to eating, slowing down to ask myself what my body craves and what it needs here and now, using discernment to make appropriate choices. My compassion toward my own decisions allows me to greet others with compassion and acceptance of their journey.
Amid the pressure to look a certain way, to work out a certain way, to consume certain foods while abstaining from others, may we find the courage to make our own rules, to move the way we want to move, to make the decisions that are right for us, all the while paying close attention to the whisper-thin reminder to focus on what is here, now.