AI - Asana Intelligence
by Tracey Rich
How is your AI-Asana Intelligence? When you begin your practice are you listening to your body's intelligence that hour, that day, that moment? Are you waiting for someone outside of yourself to tell you what to do? In your personal practice, do you depend on memory for direction on how to move, how to breathe, or what asana to do in what order? Or have you learned the language of listening to your body?
Developing an asana practice does begin with some kind of outer direction, but with good instruction, hopefully, you quickly evolve to practicing from the inside out. Even when taking direction from an external source, awakening asana intelligence can begin with your first class. Subtleties and nuances in body awareness and knowledge of kinesiology take different amounts of exposure and vary from person to person, but the context of understanding how to listen to feedback will support you in a lifelong relationship of practicing yoga. Sensing and observing are part of this "listening". In Ganga's chapter on pain in Yoga Beyond Belief, you can learn about short term and long term feedback to understand some of what is involved in this navigation process.
Another way to develop asana intelligence is to have time alone on your mat. Letting your movement be driven by your breath's guidance arising from the sensations in your body, without the distraction of what you think you "should" be doing, an intuitive practice can be your most insightful and pleasing practice. Intuitive practice can teach you new ways to connect postures which fit hand in glove, or beautifully counter one another. The body is always communicating innate ways of moving that can be the most nurturing and restoring.
Having fun with physics is another way of gaining asana intelligence. Tuning into and using gravity as an intentional part of your practice will change everything. Feeling the natural upward, downward, and horizontal directional flows in relationship to gravity's exertion will help you develop extensional energy. This awareness will ease and support asanas in the appropriate places, supplying tension and relaxation where they are meant to be.
As AI encroaches on all other aspects of living, having the right kind of AI, asana intelligence, will help you make it through this desensitizing maze.