Using Yoga and Meditation to Unlock Creativity and Fuel Your WritingMay 01, 2022
It seems like nowadays more and more people are practicing yoga for physical reasons, such as to gain flexibility or heal from an injury, or for aesthetics, to get a “yoga body” or to try and get into all those postures that you see on social media that aren’t really yoga at all. Yoga can absolutely help you to physically heal from injuries and get in shape, and with enough practice and the right bone structure, some can manage to bend and balance their bodies into all sorts of postures, but there are so many more reasons to practice that people often overlook.
Yoga is, without a doubt a healing practice – mentally, physically, and emotionally. The benefits of a consistent practice can be applied to almost all aspects of our lives. It wasn’t until a few years ago, when one of my yoga teacher trainees suggested offering a yoga class on movement, meditation, and writing/journaling, that I ever applied it to this area of my life. Now it’s something that’s a part of my daily schedule.
If you look up yoga on the Merriam-Webster dictionary online, you’ll see that yoga by (one) definition is “a Hindu theistic philosophy teaching the suppression of all activity of body, mind, and will in order that the self may realize its distinction from them and attain liberation (https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/yoga).” There a million similar but different definitions of yoga out there, with most of the original definitions mentioning the mind.
Moving through yoga asana, or postures, and sitting in meditation can both help to quiet the mind and move into the present moment. If you’ve ever taken the time to focus on your breath, your movements, and how the poses feel in your body, you may have noticed that you start to receive great insights and may have even had an ah-ha moment. By moving your body through asana, you become more connected to yourself. To move your body in yoga postures or flow, you must pay attention to your body and how it’s feeling. When you do this, you discover parts of your body and your self that you might not have ever noticed before. Yoga is an amazing tool for both self-discovery and self-awareness.
But by moving the body, you’re also releasing pent up energy. Have you ever tried to sit down and write (or tried to do anything productive for that matter), and been so distracted, your brain so scattered, that you can’t focus on anything? By physically moving the body, you move a lot of that stagnant and pent-up energy out, which allows you to better focus. And when you stretch your body and loosen up your hips and tight shoulders, you can loosen up your mind, and what’s being held within.
As mentioned, when you move your body, and quiet your mind, you might find that a lot of thoughts start to pop up. By moving your body, releasing what’s being held in there, you essentially give voice to those parts of you that have been quieted and pushed to the side, and to your creative side, to that voice inside that almost always seems to want to speak once the mind is quiet.
Practicing yoga includes the practice of Svadhyaya, or self-study. But it’s also about exploration, truth, and non-attachment, among many other things. Writing is all about those same things. Both allow and require us to explore and get curious, to tune into ourselves. Both can help to clear our minds and help us to heal.
If you’ve ever found that when you sit down to write, nothing comes up, yoga (and meditation) can give us a starting point for exploring what’s there. By observing what’s on your mind, what’s moving you forward, or holding you back, and so on, you can begin to write, even if just about your experiences and what’s going on in your body, mind, and soul. What thoughts came up? What was easy or challenging? What pulled you away from your practice or meditation and kept you from staying focused or in flow? By giving us a starting point, we are better able to get to the root cause of what’s there, and to start to heal and transform.
Just like with everything else in life, the more we do it, the easier it becomes. The more you get on your mat or meditate, the more you build those muscles that allow you to focus and come back to the present moment, and the more opportunities you get to explore what’s there. The same goes for writing, the more you write, the easier it becomes. And even on those days when things don’t flow or it’s not there, by showing up and trying, there is still ample opportunity for self-awareness, healing, and growth. You’re building discipline by trying.
One of the goals, while practicing any of these three modalities, is to let things be as they are. No judgment or critiquing, simply listening and observing. Just how moving your body clears out stagnant energy, writing does the same. By putting pen to paper, you’re clearing your mind and gaining perspective. It doesn’t matter if it’s messy or pretty, it’s a place for release.
If nothing comes up while you’re moving, adding in time to meditate is extremely helpful. By first moving your body, you’re getting in touch with your mind and body, and shaking up any energy that might feel stuck. When you stop to meditate, and quiet your mind, you allow anything additional to pop up that you might not have noticed. When you write those thoughts down, you are giving voice to what’s inside and releasing those stuck thoughts onto paper.
When deciding when to write, you can do this before or after you mediate. Writing first can help to clear your head so that meditation is easier. But it can also work that meditating first gives you more to write about. The only wrong way to do any of this is by blocking, filtering, or editing yourself.
Over time I’ve found that the easiest way for me to do any of this is to put in earbuds and use my phone for music and meditation. I usually start on my yoga mat with a playlist that makes me really want to move my body. Afterwards, I move to a spot near my computer for both my meditation and writing. I use the Calm app to guide and/or time my meditations, and then can easily switch to a Calm playlist (that is purely instrumental) to listen to something while I write. In doing this, I’ve found that 15 minutes a day of writing has become much easier. And, by writing in a “notebook” on my computer, I’m personally able to write more because my hand doesn’t start to get tired. However, you can do whatever works best for you.
Yoga is for the most part a body activity, but due to the necessity of having to focus and be in the moment, it’s also a head activity. Writing and meditation are mostly head activities. But you might also think of this as a whole mind, body, and soul practice. Yoga moves the body and quiets the mind, meditation quiets the mind even more while allowing the soul to start to speak, and writing is the tool that helps to capture, clear, and heal the mind and the soul.
If you’re a writer, or wanting to start writing, for whatever reason – personal or professional –movement and/or meditation are great practices to add to your daily schedule. You don’t have to be good at them, I’d argue that nobody is good at any of these three things at all times. The best part is the only tools you need to get started are a notebook or place to capture your thoughts. Practicing yoga doesn’t require a fancy yoga mat or any props unless you feel called to use them, and you definitely don’t need anything besides a place to sit to meditate. The only things you need to begin exploring yourself, your voice, and your creative side are time, commit, and a willingness to explore.
If you’re looking for more information or tips and tools to get started, you can send me a message or check out my offering HERE.