- I stretch my heels toward the mat, feeling my strength in downward dog, when my thoughts kick in. How could yoga and writing both be my favorite things to do? They’re completely unrelated, so totally different. Writing captivates my mind with words and thoughts like I’m in a language tunnel that stretches for miles and miles. Yoga captivates my body, connecting me to breath, music, the postures, and my soul.
Yoga clears my mind with peace…except when ideas flash by…which sometimes can be half the class. And when one of those flickers is a sentence for a story I’m working on, I toy with getting out of the pose to ruffle through my gym bag for that pencil and paper I’ve tucked away for just such an occasion. I don’t want the perfect way those words strung together to slip from consciousness. Only when they’re captured in print can I get back to my breath.
When I’m writing, my mind fills with phrases. On a plane, I find it easy to connect with words. My seat holds me captive to the piece I’m working on. Yet the enclosed space of a flight makes it almost impossible to do yoga, though believe me, I’ve tried. But in both, you must find focus for success to occur.
Yoga is quiet time, a time to go inward. I keep my eyes closed almost the entire class. Okay, so maybe writing brings you inward, too. Though I only close my eyes as I wait for the exact expression I’m searching for to display itself behind my eyelids.
In both, there’s a soundless but tingling joy that reaches deep into my core from the total involvement each requires and from the feeling of being close to life’s center as I do each. Sometimes tears well up during yoga class. But that’s cathartic. After eleven years in the business of writing I’ve learned to temper my emotions. The possibility of a contract with the story rejected in the end brings a mere lump of disappointment to my throat. Sometimes that sadness or a feeling of hope, as well as gratitude for this journey I’m on, bubbles over onto the yoga mat.
Each has its frustrations. In yoga, frustrations sprout when I don’t have the strength to hold crow pose, or when I don’t see enough improvement in my practice. In writing, I question my talent when a piece doesn’t flow or words won’t line up in pristine procession.
For both yoga and writing, growth is measured in minute increments. I was giddy with joy the first time my toes touched the ground in plow position. (Maybe a little less giddy than when I got my first contract in the mail.) Writers know well the excitement that comes when revisions to formerly unperfected paragraphs bring a superior sounding piece. Each is a process that changes and unfolds, every day a new story…some days better than others.
Both passions take years to master, requiring devotion, faith, determination, and extreme patience. In writing, you must wait for responses to sent-out manuscripts, the contract, the first proofs, to hold your book in your hand, and finally, you wait for reviews and sales reports. In yoga, you’ll wait for more flexibility and to progress towards perfect alignment in postures….which seems so simple compared to writing. Unless you’re asked to twist into a pretzel pose like Bound Half Lord of the Fishes.
But actually, in the time I’ve worked on writing this, I’ve shifted from my original premise. Yoga and writing do share many similarities. And noticing how my mind now fidgets, I take a deep in and out breath through my nose…..to quiet the inner chatter and to find that off ramp to the Language Highway. I put down the laptop, and bend over into a forward fold. Then, I can follow the road to stillness. Unless, finding focus, another idea pops into my brain and I have to pick up the laptop again!
You can read about my writing ups and downs on Twitter (@cekster). And now I ask myself why I don’t tweet about my daily yoga practice. Could it be that as writers we feel the necessity for self-promotion while yoga instills a sense of all is well right here, right now?
Do you have a passion that coexists with or influences your love of writing or illustrating?
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