After returning from the Writer’s Digest Conference in New York City, my mind was bursting with ideas and inspiration for my writing projects. My body, however, felt stiff, uncomfortable and desperately in need of a deep-tissue massage. Sitting down at my computer to write did not appeal.
As a yoga teacher and a writer, I’ve published several articles discussing the diverse conditions that yoga can address. From yoga for athletes to yoga for those battling cancer, I am confident that yoga can help anyone! Especially writers!
The practice of yoga is designed to strengthen and open up the body to enable you to sit still for prolonged periods of time to meditate without getting distracted by physical aches and pains. Just as the physical yoga postures can prepare us for meditation, they can also prepare us to sit down to create the next The Sun Also Rises or The Fountainhead.
I don’t know about you, but after I’ve sat at the computer for a while, no matter what a comfortable or ergonomically correct chair I use, my lower back is stiff as a board. When I stand up I resemble a turtle with a stiff shell where my spine used to be. Not good. Yoga has been instrumental in keeping me pain-free and flexible.
When I sit down for my scheduled writing time (you do have a writing schedule, don’t you?), I often fidget and am challenged to remain still. Once my body settles, the “monkey mind” pops up and my mind races off in a million directions, attempting to escape from actually doing the work! Grocery shopping! Work out! Feed the cats! Check Twitter! Yoga can help here too.
The definition of yoga outlined in the Yoga Sutras, is to learn to direct the attention of your mind, to control the wanderings and focus on what you choose. Imagine if you could turn off those to-do lists and other distractions and actually immerse yourself into your fictional world long enough to tap out that masterpiece?
With regular yoga and meditation, you can learn to be in the zone. We’ve all experienced it: that place where you are no longer thinking about doing something, you are just doing it. As writers, we want to be in that creative zone as long as possible.
Here is a 5-minute basic practice to open up your spine and hips so that you can sit at your computer for longer periods of time.
First, move away from your desk and find a comfortable seat on a yoga mat or if you don’t have one, a beach towel. Close your eyes and shift your focus to how you are feeling in the present moment.
1. Take 3 cleansing breaths: Inhale, filling up your lungs all the way up to your collarbones. Exhale, empty out to the base of your spine. Repeat 2x.
2. Inhale, sweeping your arms out to the sides and up overhead. Exhale, lower them back to your sides. Repeat 3x.
3. Inhale, leave your left hand on the floor beside you, sweep your right arm up, reaching up and over toward your left, stretching the right side of your body. Exhale, lower the arm and switch sides. Repeat 3x.
4. Cat-cow: shift onto your hands and knees. Spread your fingers wide and press into all of your knuckles. Inhale, tilt your tailbone up, gaze forward or up and allow your belly to relax downwards. Exhale, curl your head and tailbone inward as you draw your navel into your spine for cat pose. Repeat 4x, connecting with the breath and enjoying that release in your spine.
5. Kneeling-Lunges: Press up onto your knees. Step one foot forward about 2 feet, ideally with your knee directly over your ankle. Place both hands on your thigh and shift your weight forward and back a few times, opening the front of your hips. Pause and lift both arms overhead. Take 5 deep breaths here. Switch sides.
6. Bridge Pose: Move onto your back. Bend your knees, place your feet flat. Reach your fingertips to your heels, make sure you can touch them so legs aligned properly. Rest your arms by your sides. Inhale, press your hips up as you press your feet into the earth. Take 5 breaths here. Slowly roll your spine down until your tailbone touches. Repeat 2x.
7. Supine Twist—Lie on your back. Hug your right knee into your chest and extend your left leg. Press the right knee across the body with your left hand until you feel the stretch in your waist and right hip/lower back. Hold for 5 breaths. Unwind to center and switch sides.
Finish by hugging your knees into your chest, rolling to one side and pressing up to a seated position.
This series is a small sampler of what I do when I need to open up my back after sitting for a while. Try it!
If you’d like to learn more, please get in touch! firstname.lastname@example.org