Not a day goes by that you don’t have to make decisions—from the big (Should I have a child? Buy this house?) to the small (What should I get my partner for our anniversary? Practice on my yoga mat?). But it’s difficult to make decisions if you’re living in a body with no space—in the same way that it’s not easy to live in a house that’s full of clutter. “Usually we don’t even realize that we’re being shut down by excess,” says Saidman Yee, “until we clean house and find that we can breathe more easily. Yoga is the best way that I know to clean house—mentally, physically, and emotionally.”
The sequence here uses gentle backbends, forward bends, and twists to help you scan your body for tension and create the space that will allow you to tune into your intuition. It is through decluttering and expansion, rather than contracting and getting hyper focused (a common reaction to uncertainty), that you’ll be able to release tension and free yourself from being stuck in indecision.
Before you begin, sit for 10 seconds and notice how much pressure is in your head. Simply noticing this will cause a softening and release. Bring this awareness to the following poses, focusing on a decision you’re trying to make. Do the practice for at least four consecutive days, and if you can, follow it up with 20 minutes of journaling. There’s evidence that 20 minutes of daily journaling on a decision for four days can bring clarity. Finally, remember: “Whatever comes to light while you practice, trust your gut and walk toward it; every option has something to offer,” Saidman Yee says.
8 Poses to Help You Go with Your Gut
Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward-Facing Dog Pose) with a block
Start in Balasana (Child’s Pose) with your arms outstretched in front of you. Tuck your toes under and lift your hips up and back. Notice where your head is. Place your knees on the floor, keep one hand where it is, and use the other to place the block where your head was. Move back into Down Dog, lightly touching your head to the block at whatever height is comfortable. Stay here for 2 minutes. The block will help release tension in your head—a common symptom when a decision is weighing on you.
Prasarita Padottanasana (Wide-Legged Standing Forward Bend) with a block
Stand at the front of your mat and take a giant step out to your right. Reach your arms wide, then walk your feet under your palms. Take your hands to your hips, lift your chest, and fold forward. Place a block underneath your head at a height that supports your head without jamming your neck. Bring the heels of your hands in line with your feet. Your arms should be shoulder-width apart with your elbows bent. Put very little weight on your head. Engage your legs, and hold here for 2 minutes.
Marjaryasana and Bitilasana (Cat-Cow Pose) with a soft belly
Come onto your hands and knees with your wrists beneath your shoulders and your knees below your hips. Lift your head and pelvis into a backbend, then drop your tailbone and take your head back to neutral. Keep this neutrality and release your belly. Stay here for 3 minutes, releasing the belly—be sure your tail is heavy so you don’t start collapsing in your lower back. Deepen your relaxation with each breath. Surrender to your belly—and your gut feelings.
Standing Uddiyana Bandha (Upward Abdominal Lock)
Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Inhale, and stick out your tongue, exhaling sharply through your mouth. As you exhale, bend your knees, resting your hands just above them. Keep your arms straight. At the end of your next exhalation, drop your head and draw your belly back and up for 2 seconds. Release your belly completely and let the exhalation flood it. Then inhale as you return to standing. Look past the tip of your nose to the floor and feel grounded. Repeat 3 times, letting go.
Ardha Matsyendrasana (Half Lord of the Fishes Pose)
From Downward-Facing Dog, step your left foot forward into a lunge, and slide your right knee to the floor outside of your left foot. Sit down, with your left foot pressing firmly into the floor. Turn to your left, wrap your right arm around your left leg, and take your left hand behind you. Your exhalations bring you deeper into the twist, while your inhalations untwist you partway. Continue squeezing and releasing for 1 minute to cleanse your organs and release your belly. Don’t force the movement.
Supta Sukhasana (Reclining Easy Pose)
Lie on your back, cross your shins, and reach around your legs to grab ahold of your feet. Rock and roll up and back. Start small and let the motion grow—you may be able to roll all the way up to sitting and then all the way down to your back. Try to keep your back rounded so that your rocking is smooth. This is one of the best ways to release stagnation. Find a rhythm that connects to your breath. Practice this for 1 minute, take a 15-second break, and then cross your shins the other way and repeat.
Savasana (Corpse Pose) with a sandbag
At the top of your mat, place a block at the highest setting. Lie down with the crown of your head three inches from the block. Rest a sandbag (or another block) on your forehead at an angle so one end reaches the top of the block behind you. Ideally, the skin of your forehead will be scrunched down toward your nose. Weight on your forehead creates relief in your brain and nervous system—like when a loved one puts their hand on your head and a calm settles in.
See also The Subtle Struggle of Savasana
Meditation with Eyes Open
Sit comfortably. Many of us need to sit on a blanket so as not to overuse our lower backs. Others may need to keep their backs against the wall for support or sit in a chair. Take your left hand in the palm of your right hand, and hover your hands above your lap with your elbows slightly bent away from each other. Keep your eyes open and look about seven feet ahead at a spot on the floor. With hands lifted and eyes open, you give yourself focus and keep yourself from succumbing to mental drama, clearing the cobwebs of distracting thoughts and moving toward clarity.