On Tuesdays, the writing community at Two Writing Teachers hosts the Slice of Life. Everyone is welcome to join in by writing, commenting, or just reading slices from around the world!
While I look forward to many aspects of summer, one of the best is spending time in Rhode Island near the beach and re-establishing myself as a member of an amazing yoga community. Practicing yoga has a great correlation to my writing quality and productivity, and yesterday while in class (even though I do know that I’m not supposed to drift into other thoughts) I thought about what the instructor said about the practice of yoga and how it relates to the lives of writers. Here are some of the connections.
1. The pleasure is in the process and not the product.
This statement reminded me of the mantra to teach the writer and not the writing. As teachers of writing, and of writers ourselves, we have to trust in the truth that we improve by doing, even when sometimes the doing isn’t all that good. If we are constantly looking to create or have others create that perfect piece, it isn’t going to happen. Instead, everyone will be frustrated.
2. Find clarity in the spaces.
Sometimes, when I write, the blank page is scary. Just getting started takes so much courage. Then, once there are lines on the pages, they invite me back in, beckoning me to continue the work, to talk back to the work. I’ve gotten much better at purposefully leaving space on pages, so that I can return to a piece I’ve written, reacting, expanding, responding, reflecting, or even using it as a place to jump off into another whole somewhat related topic.
3. The practice, the same position, looks different on different days.
Lisa pointed out to one of the men in the class that he experiments with slightly different variations of the same pose, depending on the day. I loved this statement as a writer, thinking about it in terms of writing and not just yoga. Writing is a practice, and the craft moves, genres, exercises, prompts, struggles, and celebrations are all part of the correlating poses.
4. Be brave and push yourself right to the edge of your comfort zone.
Isn’t that the equivalent of the Zone of Proximal Development? When I practice yoga, I can do it safely; I can adjust my poses so that they are comfortable, and even take child’s pose when high plank lasts too long. But, it’s when I push myself to push up into wheel--even for a few seconds--or arch into camel despite the dizziness, that’s when I feel stronger, braver, and prouder. This statement leads right into the next one...
5. Be aware of when a pose makes you panic and when it bores you. The optimal place to be is right in the middle.
Isn’t that also the equivalent of our Zones of Proximal Development? What if we substitute the concept of new learning? Be aware of when the learning/teaching panics and when it bores, and be sure to be in the balancing spot between those two places. IT sounds a little crazy, but the one of the most exciting parts of yoga is doing a pose that has been hard, even though the wobbling and shakiness is a little scary. When I mentioned this to my sister-in-law who I go with, she made the connection between academic risks and yoga risks right away. “It just has to be exactly the right amount of scary, and then it’s incredibly exciting,” she commented.
So, there are some of my post-yoga reflections. I’m sure that there are more of them! Feel free to add on.