I’ve been writing for close to 30 years and practicing yoga for less than two.
But, as soon as I hit my mat, I could see the connection between the two practices and knew that the alchemy of both yoga and writing would be powerful.
Here’s what I’ve learned so far:
Yoga is teaching me to be in the moment, whether it’s on my mat or off. Writing deserves nothing but my fullest, most focused attention I can bring to the page.
2. Getting Comfortable with Being Uncomfortable
Practicing through tears, through challenging sensations in my body, in my heart, in my mind…yoga is teaching me to stay there, in those dark, uncomfortable places. Writing also takes me to those kinds of places. Before yoga, I might’ve found that the refrigerator suddenly needed to be cleaned from top to bottom rather than stay at my desk. Now, I’m learning to stay there. Stay on the page, stay with the discomfort and let the story that needs to be told, be told.
Falling out of headstand, needing to sink into Child’s Pose, crying in the middle of class. These are all ways that yoga is allowing my vulnerability to emerge. Writing calls for vulnerability as well. If I try to squash it, my writing becomes stiff and fake. When I allow it, my writing is fluid and authentic. As Brené Brown says, “Vulnerability is our most accurate measurement of courage.”
4. Enjoy the Process
Sure, it’s fun to shoot for a challenging pose, like handstand but it’s not the point of my practice. For me, the point is to stay present to what is happening in my body and mind, moment to moment, breath to breath. In writing, I definitely have goals: finish that novel, start that new one. But, I try to stay focused on the page in front of me. What words need to be written next? What sentence? Scene? Story? What questions need to be asked? I try to keep it fun and relaxed while still making progress.
5. Honor the Ebb and Flow
Some days I can rock out 3 classes in a morning, other days Yin is all I can handle. I’m learning to listen to my body, to my spirit. Same with my writing practice. I used to think that if I didn’t set up a truly grueling writing schedule, then I wasn’t a “real” writer. Now, I understand that I am not that kind of writer. I don’t wait for the Muse to magically appear, but I also don’t sit at my desk every single day, expecting ten brilliant pages. It’s enough to show up, whether to yoga or writing, almost everyday. Maybe it’s just a few minutes of Cat/Cow and Child’s Pose to release my back or 15 minutes of Morning Pages. Either way, I’ve shown up, put in some effort and that’s okay. It’s enough. There’s always tomorrow to work harder, go deeper.
As I continue to practice both, I’m sure I will continue to see the ways in which yoga impacts my writing, each nurturing and challenging the other, as well as me.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Editor: Bryonie Wise
Photo credit: elephant journal archives