On Yoga and Writing

Today I thought that maybe I write for the same reasons that I practice yoga. It’s a way of accessing another part of the brain, another part of the body. Perhaps, if you’ll allow me the liberty, another part of the soul.

I was introduced to yoga over ten years ago and have maintained a regular practice since the beginning. It has evolved over time, naturally, and I have written at length on this blog about my experiences with yoga. It tends to come as no surprise to anyone who knows me that I practice both yoga and meditation, light incense, look for the spiritual. By this I mean, yoga is a way of accessing, through the body and breath, a different outlook on the world. It is a way of reaching, physically, to parts of my body that I might not fully notice otherwise; it is a way of reaching, spiritually, towards both energy and stillness, towards forces in the universe I cannot explain.

Towards forces in the universe I don’t need to explain.

Maybe I write because writing is a way of expressing what lives in the body, the sensations of being alive on this planet and looking up at the sky. Writing is a way to capture the pulse of energy that sweeps you away when you let it it. Writing brings sensation back to a foundation, back to a centre where it can be grasped, felt, explored.

I write because I am feeling and I practice yoga in order to feel.

Sometimes, and certainly the case in much of my journal writing, I don’t understand what I feel until I write it down. Moving from sensation to articulation requires a conscious slowing down, letting go, a certain objectivity that reduces an emotional component, or at least requires me to detach from it just enough to inquire into it, unpack it. This is what I mean when I say, as I have known to be true for a long time, I think better on paper.

Yoga moves the sensation through the body and begins an exploration of how the body is connected, constructed, understood. I was first fascinated, all those years ago, with the shapes I could create with a breath. Perhaps years of dance training facilitated the ease with which I found my body in a new form, or perhaps innately understanding the possibility of movement in the body meant that I have always approached yoga with curiosity. Let’s see where I am in this body today. And then let go of the body and move with the breath.

Or maybe I’m trying too hard in linking these two aspects of myself together. I have had profound experiences in both contexts, that of doing yoga and that of writing. I do not aim here to explain what those experiences were or where they came from, but rather to make the bold claim that they existed. There are things in the universe we cannot explain, and the statement of such is what makes the claim true.

What is true, however, is malleable. There are days when the body and mind flow as a unit more smoothly than on other days. There are days where we walk easily, calmly, gently though the world. There are days when we are literally and figuratively bent out of shape, and we may or may not know why, or days when someone else knows something is wrong even before we know it.

I cannot write without being vulnerable enough to look inside myself and there is always the threat, sometimes realized, of finding something I don’t like. I cannot practice yoga without the willingness to sometimes feel a little foolish, or to be humbled by what my body is and is not capable of. There’s an element of letting go of control in both contexts and a requirement for honesty, authenticity, sincerity that strips away whatever masks I happen to be wearing. It’s a question of how much I am willing to give in that moment, and the question is answered moment after moment.

Maybe yoga is the physical manifestation of what I look for in writing, or maybe writing is the intellectual element of synchronizing the breath and the body. That they come together in this way is what drives the continued exploration. The satisfaction, the sensation of which lives somewhere beneath the sternum and is captured by clauses and phrases, is in the journey itself.

As for the universe, the magnificence of which is unexplained as far as I am concerned, there is no answer within reach because there is no answer to find.

3 thoughts on “On Yoga and Writing”

  1. I have been practicing yoga, journaling and writing fiction for nearly a decade as well. I know all three complement each other. Yoga (and meditation) and journaling help to clear and energize the mind, which in turn allows the writing to flow to the page. Thanks!


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