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I've been practicing yoga for 3, maybe 4 years now.  I love it.  I love how relaxed and calm I feel after, how my posture is better from all the stretching.  It's really a lifestyle practice, and I've learned some interesting things that can be applied very easily to the writing life.

1.  PRACTICE:  It's referred to as a practice, because that's what it's all about, always practicing to improve, to relax more fully into the posture, to stretch just a little bit more.  You find that you can always get better, there's no perfection, because it's always possible to attain more.
Writing Application - This is explained above, no? 

2.  BREATHE:  Inhale from your abdomen all the way up to your lungs, feel every air sac fill and expand, then exhale in the opposite direction (lungs to abdomen).  Always exhale one count longer than you inhale. 
Writing Application - Deep breathing is a great anxiety reducer.  When you're at cross purposes with your story and character and things are not going well, you automatically tense up, usually without even realizing you're doing so.  Stop, sit back, close your eyes.  Take 10 deep breaths.  It's amazing how calming this is.

3.  RELAX:  This means not only relax your muscles, but your mind, too.  Concentrate on breathing and relax every muscle.  Try to keep thoughts of anything except breathing out of your mind.  Relax into your posture, don't strain against it.  When you don't think you can go into a posture further, breathe deep and relax into it.  And I don't mean just relax, I truly mean to relax INTO, to go into the muscles and relax them, to stretch in and out, to let your breath guide you.
Writing Application:  Again, when stuck for ideas, take a break.  Breathe, relax.  Calm your mind and let it wander where it will.  It's amazing what will come out of the quiet space you find.

4.  STRETCH: Don't push to the point of pain, but do push to the point of discomfort.  And then relax into the stretch.  Just when you think you can't stretch any further, relax all your muscles, and you'll find yourself stretching just an infinitesimal measure more.
Writing Application:  Sometimes writers get locked into writing one type of story, one type of genre.  Stretch by trying different viewpoints in a story and experimenting with using a different voice or tone.  Try taking your stories in new directions.  It's never good to get locked into one way of writing.

5.  BALANCE:  This is also referred to as finding your center.  Don't lean in one direction or the other, but place your weight over your center and stretch out from it.  If you find yourself shaky, tipping in one direction or the other, you haven't found your center.
Writing Application:  It's easy to get caught up in writing and forget there's a whole world out there with other activities, and yes, loved ones that would like our attention now and then.  All work and no play really does make one boring and gray.  Writing is hard.  Take a break and relax, stretch, and find your balance.

The relaxation after yoga is truly one of the best parts.  Clearing the mind and enjoying the endorphins all the stretching and postures have released bring a harmony to the mind.  And that's a good thing for writing.  If you've never tried yoga, you really should.  Especially since all that writing usually involves a great deal of sitting!


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July 2012

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