Tuesday, 21 May 2013
Yoga & Writing: How Yoga Can Help Your Writing
Guest post by Stephanie Renée dos Santos
Are you a writer? Novelist? Do you sit at a desk and computer, week after week, month after month, year after year? Any tightness or pain in your neck, shoulders, upper back, lower back, hips, or legs? A regular gentle Hatha Yoga practice with breath work can relieve and reverse these stressors, as stress in the body can inhibit creativity. When the body is relaxed, so are tensions of the mind, allowing imagination to flow freely.
I am a writer and yoga guide and practice yoga daily to help my writing endeavors. My suggestion for writers to get started with yoga is to locate in your area a yoga teacher who leads therapeutic style yoga like Yoga Therapy, Viniyoga, Yin Yoga or Kum Nye Yoga (Tibetan Yoga). Initially, find classes with gentle and slow stretching combined with breath work. On outset, share with the yoga instructor where your problem areas are in your body and/or mind so they can best assist you. As your practice grows your inner voice will become clear, present, and will aid you in seeking out other types of yogic practices that will continue to help you in realizing your best self, authentic voice, and creative fire.
I highly recommend for the first 2 ½ months of starting up your yoga practice to attend classes 5 days a week, the reason is that it takes on average 66 days to form a new habit, according to new research by Phillippa Lally and colleagues from the Cancer Research UK Health Behavior Research Center as published in European Journal of Social Psychology. And you will immediately experience the benefits of yoga.
If it is not possible for you to attend this many classes a week with a local teacher or not at all, I suggest these DVD videos as supplements:
1. Ana Forrest Yoga DVD “Strength & Spirit plus Embodying Spirit” for $20. This DVD takes you through a regular hour long class which I have really enjoyed.
2. And/or try Gary Kraftsow’s Viniyoga Therapy DVD’s “For the Upper Back, Neck & Shoulders” and “For the Low Back, Sacrum & Hips” at $24.95. Gary’s instruction is on the clinical side, with good explanations of the stretches and how they work.
It is important to note that should you experience pain after doing a pose, listen to the wisdom of your body/mind and stop doing that position for a while, trying it again at a later date. Always honor yourself and your limits. After 2 ½ months of dedicated practice, try easing into practicing 2-3 times a week. At this point, more than likely, you will have experienced deep relief from bodily tensions and will easily want to continue your practice.
I love this quote by yogi/activist/writer Mahatma Gandi:
“Your beliefs become your thoughts,
Your thoughts become your words,
Your words become your actions,
Your actions become your habits,
Your habits become your values,
Your values become your destiny.”
The benefits of yoga for your writing?
1. General physical comfort in the body and mind, making it easier to keep writing for days, weeks, months, and years on end.
2. Developing a regular yoga practice helps reinforce discipline to write regularly.
3. Yoga requires focus of concentration to enter, hold, and exit poses, as you develop this inner faculty it naturally becomes applied to writing projects.
4. “Staying power” is developed as you try to hold a pose and this helps to then write-through difficult passages and obstacles all writers meet along the way when creating and structuring works.
5. Inspiration and ideas spring or trickle forth when we are in a state of calm and our mind and heart are open, through yoga one learns how to access this state and stay there.
6. You can learn how to set intentions/goals for your writing through the practice of guided meditation called Yoga Nidra.
7. As you develop flexibility in the body that flexibility stretches to the mind, enabling creative thought processes and increased problem solving ability that naturally helps one through the writing process.
In general a writer will experience ease of body, mind, and an uplift of spirit with consistent yoga practice that in turn helps all aspects of living and writing.
Stephanie Renée dos Santos is a writer and yoga guide who teaches weekly yoga classes in Garopaba, Brazil. Currently, she is working on a historical novel: CUT FROM THE EARTH. She also leads/co-leads, half-day to week-long Saraswati Writing & Yoga Workshops in the USA and Brazil, should you like to explore briefly or intensely the synergy of writing and yoga. For more information visit Stephanie’s blog and workshop schedule.