JAN: I used to say I didn’t believe in writer’s block. I was trained as a reporter, after all, and we wrote on deadline, on command. It was all a matter of self discipline.
But that’s because I was defining writer’s block as a long period of time in which you wrote absolutely nothing. Now I define it differently: As certain days, or even a week, when writing is difficult and not all that productive. Now, I suffer from it.
Although I've always loved to practice yoga, up until last week, I wouldn’t have necessarily believed that yoga postures could affect creativity. That unlocking a stuck chakra, or energy field of the body, could affect the mind. But after a full day at a yoga retreat at Easton Yoga Center, with studio owner and yoga instructor extraordinaire Liza Keogh,(pictured above) I’m willing to give it a try.
I also got advice from one of the most creative people I know, Lees Yunits (pictured right). Besides being a yoga instructor, she is a musician and composer who has produced three CD’s of original music, and the author of a memoir about the ten years her husband was mayor of a city facing financial decline. We, The Mayor (available at Wethemayor.com )
So what postures do they believe spur creativity? And why, exactly?
A sun salutation first thing in the morning. A sun salutation is a flow of poses, always beginning and ending in what’s called a mountain pose: standing straight, feet rooted in the ground, hands hanging by your side. You raise your hands over your head, eyes upward “connecting with higher realms for inspiration,” as Liza describes it.
There are a number of variations, but most involve a plank pose (which looks like a pushup), lunges, cobra or some form of backbend, a downward dog, and another forward bend. See the video below.
Liza calls says this fluid motion of poses helps open the body and the mind and gets at two important chakras. The chakra near the throat that can block “the voice,” and the chakra just underneath the sternum that affects. “willpower.”
Liza, who is also a designer and visual artist, says that if you can center yourself through awareness and exercise, it quiets the busy “to do” list maker inside. She says you need to silence this "monkey mind" to go to a deeper level and hear “the voice” that will inspire those brilliant ideas.
LEES recommends: The reverse table top posture, which is a form of bridge. You start in a sitting posture, your feet in front of you, hip distance apart, hands at your sides. You raise your pelvis and back, lifting your belly button to the ceiling so that your abdomen is level with your knees. Your weight is on your hands and feet, your arms are straight, and your knees are bent close to the body. You look like a desktop. Let your head fall backward and breathe.
This posture unblocks the chakra near your throat the affects voice, and also your pelvic area chakra, which represents procreation and thus, creativity.
Lees also recommends “the breath of fire,” which is a very rapid inhalation and exhalation from the diaphram (and through the nose) for three minutes. This kind of breathing is also called skull shining breath – "because you can sense after you’ve done it your brain feels open and alive and refreshed."
Lees suggests this not just before you start writing, but whenever you start to feel stuck.
And for the advanced, there’s the headstand. But that’s another blog.