Writing and yoga are forms of expression; ideas and emotions are released from the mind in the act of writing, and stress and toxins are released from the body in the practice of yoga. I recently attended a yoga and writing workshop and experienced how yoga can open the mind for stream of consciousness writing. The workshop combined a basic yoga practice with freewriting exercises and meditative reflection.
Yoga functions to loosen up the body so that sitting in meditation is physically comfier. It also helps slow the mind so that meditation can occur. Likewise, yoga brings the mind to a place where the writer can write with fewer inhibitions and less self-censorship. It opens the subconscious mind. In freewriting in this workshop, we were merely remaining open to whatever words or ideas came into our heads. (The instructor differentiated between this kind of small-w writing and capital-w Writing—i.e., of stories, novels, or other deliberate creative works.) We were relinquishing control. For me, this meant staying with the gentle rhythm of the yoga practice, continuing to breathe deeply, and ignoring the voice in my head telling me that what I was writing was illogical or unimportant or just not any good—the same voice that often talks to me when I’m capital-w Writing. In one exercise, we even freewrote with our left hand, which required us to relinquish both mental and physical control. I found this exercise challenging, but it made me aware of how critical and controlling I tend to be as I write, which can cause my inspirational flow to shut down.
The combination of yoga and freewriting is about connecting with your inner creativity, or, dare I say, an infinite source of creativity that we all have access to. The key is to remain open, which means no constrictive, negative thoughts or feelings. Stay with the breath. If you have negative thoughts about what you are writing, observe them and let them pass. Ideas or images that surface during freewriting may be fodder for future projects. Or they may just delight you. Attending the yoga and writing workshop reminded me that writing can be a joyful process. I think a lot of people might disagree with me (including myself on some days), but excluding perhaps the really nitty-gritty research, plot construction, or editing stages, writing should feel good, just like yoga feels good. Expression is freeing.
If all of this sounds a bit airy-fairy to you, you might look at yoga and playful freewriting as a way to relax before you capital-w Write. On the other hand, if you feel that creativity is a joyful practice that comes from a mysterious place inside of or beyond you, then yoga can be a means to connect with that source.