Writing Memoir

How yoga helps my writing

how-yoga-helps-my-writing

I’ve been practicing yoga for about 12 years. I say this not to impress you, but because I want to establish how long yoga and I have enjoyed a healthy relationship. Of course, by now, you’d think I’d be really bendy and flexible, but I am not. I’m not “advanced”. On the contrary, I feel rather beginner immediate.

This is because I never went to classes, didn’t study under some guru or tried to really improve. I know the latter seems odd, but the reason why I do yoga is because I enjoy it and I find it a gentle way to stretch and release tension from my body.  I practice yoga at home, in the morning. I don’t wear cute yoga clothes and my yoga mat is pitted because my former cats Romeo and Pippin used it as a scratching pad.

So, while I’m not particularly flexible, I still try to not be stiff. The idea of being stiff, I equate to hardness and old age.

TAO TE CHING – Chapter 76.

A newborn is soft and tender,
A crone, hard and stiff.
Plants and animals, in life, are supple and succulent;
In death, withered and dry.
So softness and tenderness are attributes of life,
And hardness and stiffness, attributes of death.

Just as a sapless tree will split and decay
So an inflexible force will meet defeat;
The hard and mighty lie beneath the ground
While the tender and weak dance on the breeze above.

One of the interesting things I’ve noticed when I do yoga is what my mind does. Sometimes I use the time to think about what I’m grateful for. Other times, I try to focus on what my body needs. And best of all is when I don’t think about anything. This is usually when ideas seem to come rushing in. I get a lot writing ideas when my mind is quiet.

I think it helps that I practice my sun salutations in the morning when my mind is fresh. When I used to go on long solitary walks, I noticed this phenomenon as well, so I had to learn to carry a pen and notebook around. Yeah, kind of a hassle. But when I’m at home, it’s easy to just stop what I’m doing and jot down the ideas that are coming to me.

the-writing-process
The writing process…

As I’m trying to craft and create a better morning routine, I want writing, yoga and meditation to be my anchors that set my day off the best way possible.

When do you find quiet time? Do you find these times to be helpful for your writing or brainstorming? Share here so I can steal. Hahahhaa.  Just kidding. Sort of.

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35 thoughts on “How yoga helps my writing

  1. Yoga definitely de-clutters and focuses my mind. Yesterday, I did my yoga practice then brought my laptop straight to my mat and blogged away! I think it’s a case of helping you centre on what’s truly important to you and that’s a great place to start writing from. Great post 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ahhh, yes, well put. Centering. I need to remember that word more often. It’s powerful and where I want to live. Thanks 😀

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    1. Hahahaha. I love listening to audiobooks on long road trips, but nowadays I listen to them when I’m doing chores or at home. They provide a different kind of inspiration.

      Long walks, uninterrupted by traffic, are the best. I love any opportunity to be enveloped by silence. It’s my favorite sound.

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  2. That’s the reason I really want to start yoga, to clear my mind and focus. Being surrounded by silence is by far my favorite sound as well!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. A very good method for quiet time.

    Might I suggest take a few classes? You don’t have to go every week, but I’ve found that having a teacher in person makes a big difference. I used to study yoga from a book, but once I started taking classes I realized how wrong I was. It’s about movement, timing, breathing, not just the still poses.

    I’ve since been very lazy. Off and on I’ve been to some gym classes, but there’s a language barrier. Now I take an English-language class in my area, only once every few weeks. But it still helps immensely with my occasional stretches at home.

    That’s just me.

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    1. I should have explained in the post that I’ve learned yoga through exercise videos 😛 They are such a great way to learn because the instructor talks to you like you are in the class and there are more advanced poses for you to see (or aspire to).

      I also like this way because it’s not intimidating and I don’t feel like I have to try to be as good as the woman next to me. You know? I can go at my own pace.

      When I’ve been invited to do yoga at someone’s home, I found it good in the sense that I was out of my comfort zone, but negative because they wanted to do head stands and things that I just normally thing is crazy because I don’t want to get hurt. You really need another person around for that.

      And classes, yeah, in Thailand, there is the language barrier, as you say, so you are just going along with everyone else. I’ve been to one here at my friend’s urging. It was alright. Still prefer to be at home 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I probably will have to get back into some simple yoga exercises, to improve my balance and relax certain parts of my body that have become rusty/stiffer due to my injury. I fell on my left side in the bike collision.

    Actually cycling is my quiet time –but right now it can’t be. I find it just calming to lie in bed in a dim rm. for last few weeks.

    I’m sure you’ve stayed in better shape even with simple yoga.

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    1. I hope so, but I can’t say for sure. Yoga is one of those things that I can’t tell if there are any physical benefits. Maybe because it’s subtle.

      In any case, I hope you will find yoga to be a gentle and nice way to get your body back to 100% after your accident. Take it easy and enjoy the rest as much as you can!

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  5. i used to attend yoga classes at a yoga studio and i really enjoyed it. they had a variety of classes, but my favorite ones were the restorative classes (its very slow paced and all about body alignment). also i noticed i’m completely influenced by music, so if the instructor pics music that i find interesting, then i’m all the more engaged in the practice.

    personally i don’t really like the idea of not thinking of anything, but i do like the idea of focusing on the breath. i think that part helps, to have an instructor talking while you’re doing the movements. on the flip side, i’m also lazy and unmotivated when i try to practice by myself. i’ve done it a few times by watching videos and i give up usually half way through.

    i usually try to find quiet time before i go to bed by reading and writing. when i didn’t own a car, and had to walk to the bus station or train station daily, i did a lot of brainstorming then. but now hmm… i hate cars and driving, it’s a creativity killer. -_-

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    1. You are so right about music. When I did take aerobic classes, I definitely got into more with better music or music that I liked.

      I suppose I’m a good self-motivator if I don’t quit the video half way and actually do it. But I do skip things that I don’t like..so maybe that makes me lazy in my own way, too.

      Sorry about the car thing. I suppose if your commute isn’t long enough you can’t veg out in traffic. Then again, a short commute time = sanity.

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  6. I am sad to say that I have never tried yoga. It does sound very peaceful. Glad that you are able to use yoga to anchor your day. I would really like to craft a better morning routine as well. Right now, it’s just madness and chaos, haha. Thank you for sharing, Lani! 🙂

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  7. I can completely relate, Lani. Yoga, for me, is the only way to retain my sanity, and reach some sort of equilibrium between my body and mind. Unless I start my day with yoga, I never step on the mat later, hence it is the way I try to start each day. And then writing always seem to flow freer afterwards.

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  8. I love yoga! I just started back in classes this past week (so sore now!). I actually just did it at home with my daughter today. It was so fun! Hopefully someday I will be limber, balanced, and relaxed… well here’s to hoping. 🙂

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    1. I know. Maybe I need to try harder w/ yoga so I can have an amazing breakthrough.

      Nahhhhhh.

      Glad you got back into it. And yeah, yoga with kids, how fun. They are naturally limber.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. When we were contemplating the move from SF, I used to wake up at 5 in the morning, restless. Sometimes I’d just get up and those were the best writing times.

    And guess what I just got in the mail!?!? My very own copy of “The Missing Teacher”!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Holy. Shit. Please let me know how it looks. I haven’t even bought a copy of it for myself since I’m overseas. But, I will buy a few for myself when I visit the States later in the year.

      Thanks for being so supportive, Lani.

      Yes, I’m thinking of writing about morning writing. I think the power of a good night’s sleep is the best thing for everything – just about.

      xxoo

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      1. What? You haven’t seen it? Ooooh. I think it looks great.

        It feels substantial. The size is perfect – (for reading in bed, throwing in a purse). Not too thick or thin, not too small or tall or big. The cover is a nice weight and I like the glossy sheen (not too glossy). I really like the font as well – it’s very readable (haven’t started it yet. I JUST started The Goldfinch).

        There is a 1-inch spacing at the bottom vs. less than a half inch at the top, so that is the only thing (But I used to edit, so I see those things). I think it will be a quick read.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Thanks for the details. I’ll see what I can do about the margins. CreateSpace is very specific in what they want and I don’t recall having that funny margin. I hope it’s not too distracting. I suppose as long as it’s readable. Trying not to be annoyed by this! Okay!

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      3. Hi, no, sorry to worry you. It’s fine. I was just trying to think of everything to tell you, since you hadn’t seen it yet. I actually started it – it’s my downstairs book. I don’t have to hunker down to read it, so when I have 15 min or so, I pick it up. The margin thing as NOT been an issue as far as readability.
        I’ve always been curious about Waldorf, so I am loving it. Find that aspect interesting, as well as little snippets of your life and the whole journey. You just started at the school, and listed off all the other teachers “names” – that’s where I’m at. Great job!!!!!

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  10. I already wake up at 5:30…or sometimes six like I did this morning, but I can’t imagine waking up earlier to do yoga. I love how relaxed and happy I feel after practicing yoga, but it usually becomes a weekend activity. Perhaps I should force myself to go to bed before midnight and somehow manage to squeeze in a half hour yoga practice at 5AM. I will be sure to let you know if/when that happens!

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    1. Wow. Since you get up so early I don’t think yoga is going to happen. However, what about before you go to bed? Just some gentle stretches? Hmmm?

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  11. I honestly (and rather predictably) thought yoga was a girly thing that I didn’t need to concern myself with. When I first started playing rugby at a senior level everyone was doing yoga and pilates. It’s great for injury prevention and building strength. Also, in such an aggressive game it gives everyone a chance to think and focus. Whilst many people see it as a game of ‘kill the man with the ball’ there’s a lot of thinking and concentration needed to play well.

    I no longer play rugby but I generally do some yoga every week. Not very well but I do it anyway.

    As for the writing, exercise helps (although not when I’m running). Thai massages are the place I have a million ideas.

    Cheers 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Yoga like meditation helps get the creative juices flowing. In the stillness the mind opens to the place where your true self sits, waiting for you to visit. I enjoy your comfortable voice I will be back for more. Kindest regards Cheryle

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I love love love yoga! I started going to classes in November (since I was told that my muscles are weak and that contributed to back pain) and haven’t looked back. I’m not disciplined enough to practice every day, but yoga has caused some subtle yet positive shifts in my life (health in mind and body, etc.). I’ve never thought about how this kind of mindfulness can inspire writing – I should definitely try it sometime!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I felt the same way with yoga. I simply fell in love with it and I think this is why I’ve been able to stick with it for so long. I’m not really a jump around step class girl. Gentle stretching and breathing works best for me – and yes, it’s great how ideas creep in when you are not paying attention. Cheers.

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