Writing and Yoga

Yoga is a lot like writing. I realized this recently when I signed up for a class.

The name of my yoga class is Beginner I. There is a Beginner II class and a Beginner III class at the same studio, but I’m not at that level of beginner, yet. I am the most beginning beginner of all beginners, the Beginner I.

As you might expect, Beginner I Yoga is slow. It involves a lot of stretching, a lot of breathing. There are times, I’ll admit, when we don’t seem to be doing much at all.  Yet, I  think I have made some progress. I’m not doing any fancy headstands, but yesterday, my heels touched the ground in downward facing dog, and I’m fairly certain that on the first day of class, I was up on my toes. Yoga, like writing, is a thing measured over time. It’s not always evident that you are making much progress as you slog along.

“Yoga is about the breath,” my teacher says, as she walks the room in her special, quiet, yoga shoe socks. “It’s also about balance. If one of your feet is too far in the future and one is too far in the past, you are going to fall down.” Really, I wish I had a notebook in class so I could write down all the really cool things she says.

“Yoga is part effort, part release.” This one is my favorite. Whenever she says it, I can’t help thinking (you guessed it) about writing. Because in writing, as in yoga, effort is only part of the battle. Word counts and writing schedules are important, sure, but there is also that mysterious quality of release. Call it flow, inspiration, your muse, whatever, it’s the part of the equation that’s harder to control.

Do you actively do anything to invite inspiration? How do you do it? Do you do yoga? Burn candles? Listen to music? What puts you in the mood to write?

25 thoughts on “Writing and Yoga

  1. Love the comparison! I just did a half hour of yoga this morning (you can select free exercise programs with our cable package, so I didn’t go anywhere). I’m a beginner, so I didn’t get the relaxation part down yet–it’s hard to do that when you have to keep looking at the instructor to see what they’re doing. I figure once I do the routine a bunch of times, maybe I’ll be able to relax, and give effort/release at the same time 🙂

  2. I do a half-hour of yoga (Jillian Michael’s Yoga Meltdown) every morning and I absolutely love it. I’ve never taken a formal class, but I think I’m actually getting pretty good. I managed Crow yesterday! And yes, I do find it inspirational go get into that state of peace and relaxation.

  3. I’ve always been too chicken to take the yoga class at the local rec center. But reading this post makes me think it might be time to go back and peek in the door… maybe I’ll even walk in! Great post.

  4. Love how much sense this comparison makes – though I’ve tried yoga and failed miserably; I know you’re supposed to start slow and get flexible as you keep at it, but I couldn’t even do some basic moves so I gave up! But you’re totally right about it here.

    I have playlists for every book I write. Music always helps inspire and shape scenes for me!

  5. It seems all yoga teachers have mastered that quiet voice that somehow reaches everyone in the class. For me, I invite (or rather, hunt for desperately!) inspiration with music. I can rarely listen to music while writing, but I still have a playlist for each WIP. I listen to it when I’m taking a break to clean the kitchen, etc., or just working around the house but want to still think about my book, or before I write. I find it helps me get into the right mood for that book.

  6. Great comparison! Personally, I try not to think about my WIP, allowing the creative part of my mind to build and build and build until it refuses to be ignored any longer. Then I open the door, and flow with the current. I find this way is far more productive than my old method of trying to force new ideas when they just weren’t there.

  7. Great post. “Yoga, like writing, is a thing measured over time.” It allows you to relax, breathe, and open your mind. I can see why this works and I agree with you. For me, though, it’s more the act of doing quicker, intense activities that stimulate writing. Anything that strikes me, something that sticks with me and is something that will become memorable, really.

  8. This is a great post! I love exploring how yoga and writing work together. I’m also kind of obsessed with writing books. One of my favorites is called WRITING THE FIRE: YOGA AND THE ART OF MAKING YOUR WORDS COME ALIVE by Gail Sher. All kinds of interesting ideas about using asana and breathing practices to deepen your writing.

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