Throughout my childhood I had a basic stretching routine that I would do every now and then that involved me getting on the floor and doing some basic leg stretches. It was a natural stretching routine that I did and once I found yoga and started experimenting with yoga poses. I found myself steadily adding new poses to this basic routine that I was already doing. This is the way to form an intuitive yoga routine. Do what your body wants, experiment with other poses, and then link them together.
As I was experimenting with yoga, I practiced a wide range of poses. Experimenting with yoga is really fun; it’s something I think everyone should try. Experimenting is an essential part of this process. In order to expand your natural movement, you have to try the whole gamut of poses: standing poses, sitting poses, back bends, forward bends, poses on the floor, poses while lying on your back and anything else that feels good. Variety is essential; in order for a yoga routine to be complete it needs to include a large variety of different poses and different types of poses, all in balance.
As you try new poses and hone in on the movements that your body already does and wants to do; you will find that you are able to add more and more poses into that natural flow of movement. Just doing yoga helps open up the body. As it opens it is more apt to flow into poses easily and intuitively. A big part of creating an intuitive yoga routine is the natural feeling that accompanies it. Nothing should feel forced or mechanical. Everything should just flow easily, just like a dance.
This video is of David Swenson, a practitioner of Ashtanga yoga taught by K. Pattabhi Jois, who was taught by Krishnamacharia. Krishnamacharya is seen by a lot of people as the father of the current yoga movement in the west. Krishnamacharya also taught B. K. S. Iyengar and Kausthub Desikachar, who taught my teachers teacher, so I fall into that lineage also.
The main point I find that permeates the lineage is doing yoga naturally and, to whatever degree possible, spontaneously. This is where I find yoga has the most power. When you are just flowing from pose to pose you really feel power and grace flow though your body.
The basic flow that David Swenson does in this video is the basic template a lot of teachers use during their classes. It is easy to start doing and you can take it to whatever intensity you desire. That is another great thing about yoga, the ability to take a seemingly easy pose and work your body to any degree you desire. The main thing to keep in mind is you don’t want to over stretch, don’t want to strain and you want to avoid being uncomfortable. Don’t do anything that doesn’t feel good, keep it easy. You can push yourself and still keep things easy.
A basic Vinyasa (flow) looks something like this
Uttanasana (forward fold)
Right Lunge, to Warrior I
Plank to Down dog
Left Lunge to Warrior I
Plank to Down dog
Step forward into Forward Fold
Inhale up into tadasana
The beauty of a simple template like this is that you can modify it however you like! You can add any standing poses in right after warrior I, you could easily flow to warrior 2, then triangle pose if you wanted. There are tons of possibilities. Experiment and see what your body likes! Developing your own yoga routine will help balance your mind, body and spirit.