The Beautiful, Intricate, Vital Connection Between Yoga & Creativity
My yoga practice was instrumental to my writing process. It helped get me into the right mindset. It helped wake me up and get my body moving. It helped release muscles that had been tightened by long hours of sitting. It helped clear out my mind of the chatter, the worries, the stressors, making it easier to figure out what happened next in my books.
But those are small day-to-day reasons why my yoga practice has helped me as a writer. What yoga has really given me goes far beyond postures and breathing exercises.
I truly believe great writing comes down to four vital factors: curiosity, authenticity, trust, and love. You have to be curious as a writer. You have to be curious about your subject matter and you have to be curious about the different ways of writing out what you want to say. You have to be curious as to what happens next in your work - especially when you have no idea what will actually happen next.
You have to be authentic in your voice - and, likewise, you have to trust in your own voice. You must be authentic in how you tell your story and you must trust that the story is worth telling. Furthermore, everything must come from a place of love - love for writing, love for the story, and love for yourself as a writer.
Curiosity. Authenticity. Trust. Love. There are countless ways to cultivate these traits, but the most effective way for me has been through my yoga practice. The lessons I learn on the mat about those four traits stay with me as I leave my mat. I learn to be curious about the postures, the movements, and the sensations, instead of worrying about getting it "right". I learn to listen to that inner guide and allow my practice to be my own, instead of what I think is expected. I learn to trust the process, even when I feel challenged or frustrated. And, most importantly, I learn that the practice will serve me best when it comes from a place of love, letting yoga cultivate what I already have within me instead of focusing on what I think I'm lacking.
In yoga, one of our first and toughest lessons to learn is that there is no "perfect" posture to strive for. As writers, we can fall into the rut of striving for the "perfect" sentence, or the "perfect" story, and we become disheartened when it's not immediately achievable. We can compare ourselves to other writers and to where we think we should be. We spend so much time focused externally that we forget that writing is an incredibly internal journey. Yoga brings us back to it.
Yoga reminds us that everything is a practice, including our writing. Yoga reminds us that fear is the thief of joy (and creativity) and that we can, in fact, breathe through it. Yoga reminds us to stay present with what is happening, and to work where we are in the current moment. Yoga reminds us to own our sensations and, in turn, own our story - which, I feel, regardless as to what we actually write about, is one of the most important things we can do as a writer (but, more on that later).
My yoga practice has made me a better writer. It has taught me things I never would've thought possible. It is to the point that I don't see my writing practice as separate from my yoga practice, but as two branches of the same tree - two branches that overlap and weave together in beautiful ways.