Not long ago, I wrote about how walking stimulates my writing. Writer and yoga instructor Stephanie Renée dos Santos commented that she’s found yoga to be a great help to her writing. I asked her to share exercises anyone can do and she agreed. Welcome, Stephanie!
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A Writer’s Daily Yoga Practice
First, I’d like to thank Carol for inviting me to share ways writers can incorporate yoga into the daily writing routine. I write five days a week. Normally, I write in the morning for three hours and another two-three hour session in the afternoon in what is called the “unit system.” I write for 45 minutes and then take a 15-minute break (For information about this writing method visit my blog post: Up Productivity: Writing & Editing). In the 15 minutes of downtime, I do housework and/or practice yoga. I am a yoga teacher when not writing, and like everyone some days I have tight regions in my body. I do yoga stretches to open and relax these areas–allowing me to comfortably write for long periods of time.
Writers often suffer from physical pain in the eyes, head, neck, shoulders, lower back, and hips. This stress in the body can inhibit or block creativity. A daily yoga practice helps reverse and relieve bodily tension; when the body is eased, so are the tensions of the mind.
Below are 5 yoga stretches most writers can perform easily, no matter your age or flexibility. (All postures are recommended to be done slowly and mindfully, meaning pay attention to what is going on inside your body–but don’t judge or attach to what you discover, just notice.)
- Shoulder rolls: Lift your shoulders up towards your ears, then slowly pull your shoulder blades back and together and down, continue repeating this circle. Be conscious of your movements and tell yourself it is “okay” to let go and relax, while massaging out any tension in this region.
- Neck stretch: Begin with your eyes closed. And breathe in through your nose and out your mouth for 5 breaths with your head upright. Then, gently let your head ease over to the right, stretching out the left side of your neck. Count 15 breaths, then using your right hand, help your head back up to an upright position. Pause for 5 breaths, eyes still closed, and repeat on the left side, remembering to help your head up with your left hand. Returned to center, keep your eyes closed, breathing in through your nose and out your mouth for more 10 breaths or however long you like, absorbing and basking in the relief of this stretch. ** I suggest getting out of your regular writing chair and onto a blanket or yoga mat in a seated position or on a cushion, or sit in another chair, or on the edge of a bed to do the shoulder rolls and neck stretches.
- Hip circles: This pose is done standing up. Place your hands on your hips and slowly begin moving your hips in a circular motion, while breathing in through your nose and out your mouth for 10-15 breaths, then change circling direction for another 10-15 breaths. At the end release your hands from your hips, letting your arms hang down by your sides. Then shake out your arms turning your waist side to side like a windmill, while flexing your knees shaking out any tension in the body.
- Lower back stretch: Standing with your legs the same distance apart as your hips, knees slightly bent, inhale through your nose and then out your mouth and slowly bend forward at the waist, letting the weight of your head and shoulders draw you down to the floor, surrendering your weight forward for 10-15 breaths, stretching out the lumbar and legs. If you are unable to touch the floor, I suggest you use a chair or blocks to rest your hands and weight into, in order to get the most benefit out of this stretch and to not aggravate the lumbar region. Inhale through your nose while coming up, vertebrate by vertebrate.
- Standing Side Stretch: Stand with both feet waist distance apart, breathe in through your nose and out your mouth and reach up your arms into the sky, then with the right hand grasp your left wrist and stretch to the right side, opening up the left side of your torso, shoulder, and arm, taking 3-5 breaths. Then repeat this on the left side for 3-5 breaths. You can do this stretch, moving side to side 5-10 times or as many as you like.
I strongly encourage writers to begin a regular yoga practice at home and with a qualified teacher in your area, it will help you and your writing in profound ways: patience development, concentration, fluidity of creativity.
Stephanie Renée dos Santos is a fiction and freelance writer and yoga instructor. She is currently working on a historical novel set in 18th century Portugal and colonial Brazil. Stephanie leads Writing & Yoga Retreats/Workshops in Brazil and the United States. For more information please visit: www.stephaniereneedossantos.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org or Facebook: Stephanie Renee dos Santos.
Upcoming Workshops in USA: July 13-14, 2013 half-day & full-day, Writing & Yoga Workshop, Bellingham, WA; July 2013 (exact dates to be announced) 3 nights, 2 full-day Writing & Yoga Workshop, Oregon Coast, OR. Visit Stephanie’s blog for workshop details: http://www.stephaniereneedossantos.com/yoga-writing-workshop/