A writer and a yogi walk into a bar…

by Starla J. King on June 10, 2014

[actually, I don’t have a bar joke; I just wish I did.]

I got up at 4:30 Monday morning (don’t ask) after a restless sleep, expecting to drag through the day by alternating naps and caffeine. But there I was, at the gym just after 5am, bipping right along with an energy I hadn’t felt in weeks.

I showed the treadmill who’s boss, threw down a few push-ups, then headed to the safety of home for the inevitable arrival of an epic energy crash.

But it never came.

Instead of fading out, I effortlessly (didn’t even realize what I was doing until I stopped to think) drafted a Goal-Setting Guide for Creatives and promptly jotted down the clearest goals, focus, and task lists I’ve had for myself all year.  I wrote a letter, started this blog post, added a few things to my marketing list, … oh, and somewhere in there, slipped into 15 minutes of brain-calm, cell-rested meditation — all before 9am.

Word Cloud from Kripalu workshop

It must have been the Writing through the Chakras workshop.

I spent the past weekend with a gaggle of other writers at the gorgeous Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health, basking in the wisdom, energy, and teachings of authors Dani Shapiro and Stephen Cope (former Director of the Kripalu Institute for Extraordinary Living).

Each day, we participated together in yoga physical postures (asanas) and specific breathing exercises (pranayamas) with Stephen, correlated writing exercises with Dani, and conversation with both of them.  In each session, we stepped into our bodies, then opened them onto the page to see what showed up.

Feelings showed up; resistance did not.

Word flow showed up; judgment did not.

Inspiration showed up; drudgery did not.

Yoga and writing worked together like two sides of a coin.  It makes sense, really, that the two support each other so beautifully because both yoga and writing:

  • are deliberate practices.
  • are about accessing a deeper level of ourselves.
  • are about paying attention as a way to greater understanding and experience.
  • are about surrender, faith, and perseverance.
  • lead (on our best days) to an overwhelming, gotta-share-it feeling of goodwill.
  • fill us or empty us as needed.
  • are physical and spiritual exercises.
  • are about flow and discovery.
  • are about a different state of being.

If you’re struggling with your writing, does your body need to get more involved?  Maybe, like Dani and Stephen suggest, you need to get out of your head and into your body, to give the subconscious stuff a chance to bubble up and be accessible for your writing.

If you’re ready and able to do yoga, by all means go for it!  Take a class (Google local yoga classes, ask your friends), or follow a yoga video at home.

If you’re not ready for yoga, try other small, intentional movements, as you focus as fully as possible on what your body is feeling and experiencing.  Try any (or all) of these:

  • Stand up and stretch like you do when you get out of bed in the morning.
  • Take a deep breath and let it out with a huge sigh.  Do it again.  And once more.
  • Shake out your arms and your legs, picturing them moving loosely, easily.
  • Roll your head gently, slowly in one direction. Then the other.
  • Take 5 deep breaths and pay close attention to every little sensation in your body as you breathe in, breathe out.

THEN GO WRITE and see what shows up.

“To write at the height of our powers, we need to be radically present to ourselves.” ~ Dani Shapiro .

“[Through yoga practice], we are expanding our perceptual bandwidth to be aware of new internal experiences.” ~ Stephen Cope .

Yoga + writing = sore thighs, open heart, full notebook.  Thank you, Dani & Stephen! 

[Stay tuned for part 2 of workshop learnings later this week. Sign up here to get blog posts via email.]

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