October 25, 2011

On Writing Yoga, Honoring Teachers, and Having Fun on the Path.

When I first heard about the book Writing Yoga I wasn’t that interested. After all, I thought, I already had a writing practice (here’s my blog) and a yoga practice (heck, I teach yoga…) so what could this book offer to me? I thought it would either be a chore to read, offering redundancy, or perhaps it would somehow break my groove of writing that I’d already established (maybe causing me to doubt myself?). So that’s part of the reason it took me a while to get to this book.

Boy, I sure didn’t have any suspicion of the treat and blessing that this book would be for me to read!

Give yourself permission to make mistakes, to be.
~Bruce Black, Writing Yoga

When I finally opened the book, on the first page of the Acknowledgements section I saw Rita Knorr‘s name mentioned. And she is one of my teachers, too! Right away that made everything interesting…

My yoga teachers, Jaye Martin and Rita Knorr, who have become more than teachers, and who knew before I did that practicing yoga and keeping a journal would help me expand in ways that I could not have imagined. Their devotion to yoga, and their belief in the endless possibilities of life, continue to serve as inspiration for my writing and yoga practice.

Throughout the book Bruce Black consistently honors his teachers and shares the big role they have had in his yoga. And I could really relate with his appreciation of teachers overall as well as specifically since we share one: Rita Knorr.

I was reminded of what a special person she is. Through his words I was transported back to when I was a relative beginner in Rita’s class.

It took a number of weeks to feel comfortable with the lively chatter that filled the room throughout class. I was stunned by the steady stream of questions back and forth from student to student as we held each pose, and from students to Rita, and from Rita back to the students. I was accustomed to hearing only one voice—Jaye’s—in class, and to exploring each pose in silence, as I tried to pay attention to what my various muscles were or weren’t able to do.

But soon the questioning and casual banter made each pose feel like a new journey, both personal and communal, and I began to feel myself loosening up a little each week. Little by little, I found that I could take greater and greater risks, pushing past my fear a little further. No longer was I trying to model my pose on an ideal image that I held. I found with Rita’s assistance that I could investigate the pose in a way that would make it my own. I left her class in amazement each week, feeling that I had reached a new level of understanding in my practice. Who knew you could laugh and play while learning yoga?


I was reminded of something important to me as I recollected similar experiences in Rita’s class. She really honored the people in her class, even giving them opportunities to speak and learn together. I love that! It’s the real yoga coming out, I believe. This book is such a tribute to this style of teaching while honoring other styles, too.

And what is so wonderful about Writing Yoga is Bruce Black’s joyful curiosity and interest in his own unfolding understandings as he is learning through his yoga and writing. I thought many times how fun he must be to have as a student in class! (Welcome, Bruce!)

It was this process of writing in the journal each day, before and after yoga practice, that helped me to learn to lower my defenses, let go of the imposters and fake voices, open up and write from my heart.

It’s not too much to say that reading this book helped me to open my heart to the values of an earlier person that I was, around nine years ago, right before I started teaching yoga. So now I am integrating, opening to my heart’s wisdom of what I really want to teach. The timing is impeccable!

It almost seems like I should stop there, but I’m not done, yet.

Writing Yoga does a beautiful job of explaining a writer’s voice. (Read the book to discover this.) And I’ve found my personal writing, the stuff that’s just for me, to be of value again!

I am so grateful for everything that took place so that I could have the experience of first resisting, and then reading this wonderful book that could offer a piece of myself back to me!

Thank you!

(And some of the writing exercises look interesting, too…)

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