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Very often in life, we are drawn to and admire the people who we see as “going for it”—the ones who take chances against all odds, create lives for themselves that are deeply fulfilling, and march to the beat of their own drums.
These people seem to follow some sort of deep, internal compass that keeps them charging hard toward their own True North. You could call this listening to and acting according to gut instinct, or you could call it intuition. Either description works, and both point to a person’s ability to tune in to what in Yoga is called the sadguru (inner teacher), and a willingness to trust this voice.
But how does one even begin to find this voice?
First, it’s important to learn how to get quiet. There is a Zen proverb that says, “Silence isn’t empty. It is full of answers.” This is one of the many reasons why meditation is stressed in every sacred text. The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali tell us that meditation will help us distinguish the mental patterns (samskaras) that we have created over the years—and perhaps lifetimes—that block us from receiving messages of Truth. In the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna (God/the Highest Self) tells Arjuna (the everyman) that above all other practices, meditation is key in understanding the true nature of the Self.
There is so much noise in our own heads, let alone coming at us from the external world. Trying to find our truth while on the bus or walking through busy streets is exceedingly difficult, because the external cues that we’re being given are very often catering to the ego part of ourselves—the part that always wants more and never feels like it has enough.
Also crucial when trying to work with one’s own deep wisdom is to learn how to distinguish the difference between the voice of fear and the voice of clear perception. How? One good indication that your answer is coming from a fear-based internal dialogue is that the voice of fear always comes with an agitation that can regularly manifest as a feeling of anxiety or stress. With this in mind, when contemplating some sort of decision—big or small—notice if the answer you receive also comes with a mental and/or physical vibration that makes you feel unsettled.
Finally, if something appears to you as a sign, it is! Many of us have an idea that unless we see an actual burning bush or an angel comes to us in our dreams, we’re not receiving any Divine signaling. This couldn’t be farther from the truth. We are receiving messages all day every day, and it’s up to us to trust when those messages are actually telling us to go for something.
The truth is that the more you trust your intuition and follow the messages you’re being given, the more your intuition will show up to guide you. Take a chance on listening to the truth that boils up inside you, and your life will begin to unfold according to your own, perfect plan.
10 Poses to Help You Boost Your Intuition
Stretch yourself onto the length of your mat, belly down, and extend your arms out in front of you with your palms facing up. Rest your forehead on the mat. Take 5-10 breaths here and offer away the part of yourself that is driven by pride. Pride blocks the voice of the Divine and therefore your intuition.
From Downward-Facing Dog, step one foot forward and place your back knee down on your mat. Reach your arms behind you and interlace your fingers to clasp your hands, bringing the heels of your hands as close together as you can without over straining your shoulders and wrists. Reach the back of your heart up toward the ceiling so that the sensation of the backbend is not located solely in your low back. Hold for 5-10 breaths. When you switch sides, also switch the interlace of your fingers.
From Downward-Facing Dog, step one foot forward and then heel-toe your front foot out toward the side of the mat, enough that you can comfortably place both hands inside your front foot, directly under your shoulders. Press the floor away from you so that your hips lift a little, and keep your back leg fully engaged—glutes included! If you have the space in your hips, you may place your forearms down on the mat or on blocks. (For a more gentle variation, place your back knee down on the mat.) Hold 5-10 breaths. Switch sides.
See also YJ Tried It: Holotropic Breathwork
With your feet together at the top or back of your mat, bend your knees as close to 90 degrees as possible, with your torso at about a 30-degree angle from your thighs and your arms reaching skyward. Make sure your weight doesn’t rock forward into the balls of your feet, and squeeze your sit bones and inner thighs toward each other. On an inhalation, bring your hands to Prayer in front of your heart (Anjali mudra); on an exhalation, twist to your right, hooking your left upper arm outside your right thigh. Hold for 5 breaths, then switch sides. You may add in a forward fold between sides if your legs get too tired.
Step one foot forward and spin your back heel down to the mat with your back toes facing the same top corner of your mat. (For instance, if your left foot is back, your left toes should point toward the top left corner of your mat). Make sure your feet are at least hip-width distance apart, then lift your torso and arms up into Warrior 1. Clasp your hands behind your back, and walk the front foot even farther toward the side of the mat (think Lizard Pose). On an inhalation, lift your chest skyward; on an exhalation, fold your torso down toward the ground on the inside of your front leg. Soften the sides of your neck so your head is heavy and try not to yank your hips to be perfectly parallel with the top of the mat. Hold for 5 breaths, then switch sides. On the other side, change the interlace of your fingers.
Bring one shin down at the top of your mat, as parallel to the top of the mat as your body will allow. Keep your back leg extended straight behind you. Fold your torso over your front shin and turn your palms to face up. If your front sits bone is high up off the mat, place a blanket underneath for support. If this pose hurts your knee, do figure four on your back instead. Hold for 10 breaths, then switch sides.
From a comfortable seat, draw your knees into your chest, wrapping your arms around the front of your shins. Bring your forehead to your knees, close your eyes, and turn your awareness into the center of your chest: your spiritual heart center. Rest here for 5-10 breaths, noticing the images, feelings, and sensations that come up.
Bring your forearms to the mat with your elbows underneath your shoulders. Keeping your elbows firmly planted under your shoulders, extend your forearms forward and make a basket with your hands by interlacing your fingers, pinky finger side on the mat. With your knees still on the mat, place the crown of your head on the mat, and cradle the back of your head/base of your skull in the basket of your hands. Press your forearms firmly into the ground so that there is almost no weight in your neck and head, tuck your toes under, and lift your knees off the mat. From here, walk your feet forward toward your elbows so that your hips come closer to being straight over your shoulders. You can stay here, or lift your legs into the air. (If Headstand is not part of your practice, wide-legged standing forward fold is also a good way to shift your perspective.) Hold for at least 10 breaths and up to 25 full breaths, then rest in Child’s Pose when you are finished.
Alternate Nostril Breathing
Find a comfortable seated position, close your eyes, and place your left hand on your left thigh with the palm facing up, and your thumb and index finger touching. Using your right hand, place your index and middle finger between your eyebrows at the third eye point. With your thumb, block your right nostril and inhale for a count of 6 through your left nostril. At the top of the inhale, block your left nostril with your right ring finger, and exhale for a count of six out your right nostril. At the bottom of the exhale, pause of just a moment, then inhale through the right nostril for a count of six. At the top of the inhale, close the right nostril with the right thumb, and exhale for a count of six out the left nostril. This completes one round of Nadi Shodhana. Complete at least 6 rounds.
See also Watch + Learn: Nadi Shodhana
With your eyes closed, keep your left hand as it is (palm facing up with the thumb and index finger touching), and bring the thumb and index finger of your right hand to touch, but place that palm face down on your thigh. This mudra signifies that we are open to receiving and letting go whatever it is that moves through us. Stay here for at least 5 minutes, keeping your gaze at the space between your brows.