When I first started yoga I approached it as a form of exercise, though it had been recommended to me by a movement therapist who felt that it would help me emotionally. It really wasn’t easy for me to surrender to yoga. I came from a distance running, swimming and aerobics background – I liked to move! And my mind was the same. It ran around like a wild horse!
Holding static poses was especially difficult for me. Being in stillness was hard. It was also humbling to accept that I was a beginner and not ‘good’ at it. I watched women, powerful like gymnasts, move through their routine with a sense of awe. But I couldn’t go from standing into a backbend. And I still can’t do a beautifully ‘proper’ backbend! My mind set was the first thing I had to overcome.
Synergistic interaction of body, mind and spirit
Actually, I have my shoulder to thank for coming to ‘real’ yoga. (I say real to indicate that it is more than physical exercise.) One day, after doing a 2 km swim in the pool, the muscles around my right shoulder went into spasm. And that was it, the proverbial last straw. It was some form of turning point for me. (I’ll probably discuss revelations relating to this in a later post.)
Since then, I just couldn’t do certain movements and couldn’t follow a regular yoga class. And this is how I discovered an amazing teacher, Kia Miller, who opened up a whole new perspective and experience of yoga for me. She is the teacher that I did my Radiant Body Yoga Teacher Training through. Her approach is completely holistic, focusing on the synergistic interaction of body, mind and spirit. It includes very specific postures and dynamic movement, breathing techniques and sound vibrations (chanting mantra). I experienced radical and subtle shifts through these classes and practices.
Interrelation between yoga and creative practices
And it is more recently that I was able to recognise and allow the interrelation between my yoga and creative practices. I realised that if I could make time to do yoga practice every day, then I could do the same with my creative practice. And I was able to join them allowing one to flow into the other and, over time, mutually support and nurture each other.
Yoga is for everyone
I am sharing this because yoga isn’t reserved for a stereotypical type of person. You don’t need to be an active sportsperson, a bendy length of rubber, or a lentil eating vegan to benefit from real yoga practice. And maybe you don’t have the spiritual stuff all figured out. (Hopefully you do realise that you are more than a bag of bones. 😁) If you have an enquiring mind and are open to what might yet be revealed that’s a great place to be. My stance is that I know I don’t know everything. And most things, in moderation, can be good. I gravitate towards balance. What works for you? You can just be you!
Real yoga is a state shifter
Real yoga is a state shifter, changing how you feel and act. And it’s probably at the times you least want to do it that you most need to do it. When you feel wired or scattered, it will balance you. When you are dragging yourself through your day it will energise you. When you’re being eaten alive by anxiety it will calm you. It restores balance.
You don’t need to be doing the splits in a headstand or twisting yourself into a pretzel. Even an inversion, like bending forward and over to touch your toes…or knees…will turn your brain upside down and manually change your mind! 😉
Recall the restorative power of a cool breeze blowing on your face. That’s the power of the breath! Most of us are shallow breathers, hardly inhaling at all. And we sit slouched in front of our computers squashing our diaphragm and restricting the capacity of our lungs. Opening up and breathing is transformational. Breath is life! And there are so many different types of breathing techniques to explore.
Remember the resonance of a drum reverberating through you? That’s the power of sound vibrations. Not only can the sound be pleasing, but the vibrations influence your body on an energetic level. When we chant we do the same thing.
Ultimately, when I do come to my art practice I am in a state that is conducive to creating. I am giving my art practice its best possible start. I will speak more about this at another stage.
What are your experiences of movement, breath and sound? How do you approach your creative practice? Do you have any questions or comments? I’d love to hear from you as we reach for new ways of being.
I have attached links to some great articles on the connection between yoga and creativity.