If someone asked me why I write (or paint, or crochet poorly, or garden) I would likely tell them spilling my emotions onto the page helps me get out of my head. But when people ask me why I practice yoga it's the opposite; it's to bring my head back to my body. Although I don't say it that way, mostly because I never thought about it in that way until I read The Making of a Poem by Stephen Spender.
Spender states, "there is always a slight tendency of the body to sabotage the attention of the mind by providing some distraction. If this need for distraction can be directed into one channel," - for example yoga! - "then other distractions outside oneself are put out of competition. The concentrated effort of writing poetry is a spiritual activity which makes one completely forget, for the time being, that one has a body. It is this disturbance of the balance of the body and mind, and for this reason, one needs a kind of anchor of sensation with the physical world."
This really resonated with me. It suddenly made sense why I couldn't help myself when creating my own yoga classes (shout out to YQ Yoga Teacher Training for being so awesome) that I would create a series I lovingly call "Yoga for Depressed Writers" (really I should have called it Yoga for Me). I need writing to forget my body and I need yoga to bring me back and anchor my mind with my physical self.
Yoga and writing are not only opposites for me, they also have a lot in common. Both are creative outlets and they make me feel good. Wellness, amirite! But seriously, wellness! One of my writing and wellness challenges is shaking the negative emotions I get lost in. The thoughts generally aren't related to what I'm trying to do. I'm just stuck. One thing that has helped me is actively weeding out the thoughts I don't need in my head - before yoga practice, a writing sesh, whatever.
There are many versions of weeding writing on the interwebs (I found this one in a book! A book made of paper!) and one version might work better for you than another. Here's the one I use and have used with other yogis. Try it out and tell me what you think.
Weeding Writing (adapted from Cultivating Your Creative Life by Alena Hennessy)
Write out a list of thoughts to weed out or things you think about yourself that you no longer want to carry with you. This is instinctual; don't censure yourself and don't worry about complete sentences. (write for 1 min)
After your list is complete, review it for a little while. It's important to recognize and accept that these thoughts were things you may have carried for years. Take note of any patterns. Now you can transform these thoughts into nothingness. They were stuck inside of you. But since they were never yours to begin with, you can let go of them.
Turn these thoughts into a drawing. You can do anything, really, just as long as it expresses the fact that you don't own these ideas anymore. (draw for 1-2 min)
Jennyann - Poet, Yoga Teacher, Expert Waffle Maker, Designer
The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde;
Unmentionable by Therese Oneill;
Designing Our Way To a Better World by Thomas Fisher;
Frankenstein (1818 version) by Mary Shelley;
Wild Seed by Octavia E. Butler