Do you think of yourself as a creative person?
As a kid, I loved to write, draw, paint, dance, make random crafts, and invent plays and talent shows for anyone willing would watch. But then I stopped. Not sure why. Maybe the “grownup” me believed that these things weren’t important or that I wasn’t creative.
But the truth is we are all creative beings who need to experiment, invent and bring about new things so that we thrive. Creativity is an innate capability. But sometimes it gets blocked or distorted.
What is creativity?
There are many definitions. One that I like is this:
“Creativity is it nothing more than seeing and acting on new relationships, thereby bringing them to life.” ~Joseph V. Anderson
Idea + Action = Creativity.
Simple and straightforward. Everyone has the potential to enter into a creative state of being. And most of us can be far more creative than we believe.
How are yoga and creativity connected?
Yoga provides a very tangible approach to processes that support creativity – courage, discipline, presence, focus, movement and space. With yoga you experience things, you don’t just encounter them intellectually. You feel and know. And this can help reprogram your body, breath and mind.
It is about getting unstuck. Breaking out of habitual patterns, finding new pathways and following them. We need creativity in all aspects of our lives. To really open to it we need to be willing and able to step out of our comfortable places.
Here are some ways that yoga helps in your creative endeavours:
Yoga teaches you to go beyond your boundaries, to be courageous. You learn to find your edge in a posture and then you step just past it. Thoughts and emotions come up and you learn to be okay with them.
We go upside down, jump around, balance and (perhaps most terrifying) sit in silence. And we face what comes up. When you approach your fears on the mat, you also learn to face the fear of expressing your truth. And maybe you become more willing to share that with the world.
A yoga practice requires discipline (tapas). Sometimes you just don’t feel like going to your mat, but you do it anyway. Even for 5 minutes. This is what builds your practice. The creative process requires discipline. Consistent action is what brings our ideas to fruition.
Yoga asks you to be fully present and aware. Because of this, you notice things – both physical and mental. “If I move my hip over a tiny bit, I get a far deeper stretch and it feels intense.” You observe yourself with an artist’s eye, seeing things from a new perspective. This can lead to new, creative ways of expression.
Yoga helps us to breathe more deeply and more freely. When we are stuck, either mentally or physically, we hold our breath. Yoga connects the body with breath.
When you breathe more rhythmically, you actually slow down your brain waves and enter a more focused state. This is that flow state that a chef enters when cooking or an artist enters when painting. The outside world fades away. When I am really engrossed in writing this newsletter, “Mom, mom, MOM did you hear what I said?” goes unheard and eventually ends with a humble apology from me…
Movement and Space
Sometimes we feel stuck creatively, like when we experience writer’s block. Yoga moves things – energy, breath, body – and gets us unstuck.
The throat is the energetic centre of expression. It is where we hold words we are afraid to say. Opening the throat and chest area (e.g., through backbends like supported bridge) can release blockages making space for honesty and creative expression.
- The sacral chakra (navel area) is the energy centre associated with creativity. It can be accessed through hip opening poses such as pigeon.
- Yoga gets you out of your head and into your body. This can take you from a judgmental mode of thinking to a place where you are more willing to just let things happen.
“To practice any art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow. So do it.” ~Kurt Vonnegut
Whether your creative act involves writing, cooking, leading a yoga class, coding or practicing your healing art, you are nourishing your soul and bringing something into the world that is uniquely yours. And that will move the world forward.