Day 2 – Q2. So is writing a kind of yoga?
I’ve been writing since I was 8, and I’ve been practicing yoga for over
a decade. Both were born from the need for release and to break free of
past bonds I had been struggling with liberating myself from.
I had started martial arts training when I was a teenager, because I
was beaten up a lot and suffered abuse in my family (both physical and
emotional) and I wanted to be strong and learn to defend myself and be
able to stand my own ground. I could do that, but I also found that
what I had developed in the course of that work was a very strong emotional
and physical armor. I was too tough. Too protected. Too frightened
inside. So for me, yoga was the most powerfully cathartic tool for
self-transformation because it allowed me to face that fear that I had
been hiding from within myself.
While I was stretching and twisting, breathing and calming my mind and
body, I discovered places in my body that were very stiff, and I also
discovered incredible reserves of strength, stamina and newfound
flexibility. I discovered that the physical and emotional traumas and
violence I had experienced as a child (and also from past life karma
that were playing themselves out in this life) were stored in my
body’s cellular memory. As a result, I had a lot of subconscious blocks, which
yoga helped me to release.
Even though I had done a great deal of work with psychotherapy over the years, and deep emotional healing, including deep bodywork, transcendental
meditation, past life regression work, outward bound, inner child healing, psychic release, shamanic rituals, Reiki, etc, etc, etc, yoga was finally what really helped me unearth and release these traumas from my physical body. It also taught me to
trust, to step into the unknown. By discovering where emotions are stored in
the body, we can work to accept them and not push them away.
If we walk into the difficulty, we can breathe through it and release these
emotions and traumas. That was what was so powerful for me about yoga.
But I had an amazing teacher who herself had gone through the fire, and
you could tell. She was really there for us when we were fighting our
own demons. And that is how I hope to be as a teacher. That is one of
the cornerstones of my teaching–to give people a safe place to explore
whatever emotions, feelings and memories surface in the course of
breathing and opening our bodies, and to embrace them, honor them,
process them, and let them go. And, when we release these blocks, we
find a newfound capacity for creativity and unconditional love–for
ourselves, and for others. That is when we destroy the illusion of
separateness that causes so much suffering. As the Navajo say, “We are
all connected.” We have forgotten that. Yoga helps us remember our
unity from a deep level.
R.K. Narayan, the Indian novelist (1906-2001), said: “You become a writer by writing. It is a yoga.” Writing, like all art, is an act of faith, a commitment to your deepest self-expression. In fact, creativity itself is prana, coming mainly from two energy spheres–the second, sacral chakra or Svadhisthana (which means “sweetness” in Sanskrit), and the fifth, throat chakra or Vishudda (“purification” in Sanskrit). Creative energy is brought in through the second chakra, and then it is processed, and sent out into the world through the fifth chakra, which is our center of self-expression. So if I want to open to my creativity, I work in the second chakra doing hip opening poses, and then I focus on the fifth chakra to open the throat. Some good poses to work in the fifth chakra are shoulderstand and fish–anything that softens the throat and opens the heart. Chanting is also amazing for this reason, and so is deep breathing.
* Erik Bragg on Hypnosis and the 7th Path.
* Angela Jeffs (Japan Times Journalist) on her witing class based on “Drawing on the Writer Within”, her upcoming book and labyrinths.
* Gretta McIlvaine founder of Bridge Between the Worlds Healing Center and Graduate of the Barbara Brennan School of Healing.
* Sri Eknath Eswaran’s method of meditation (he is the founder of the Blue Mountain Center of Meditation in California and author of many books).
*Educator/therapist David Howland on applying therapeutic techniques to education, the importance of the arts in our daily lives and how we can learn to understand expressing our creativity to balance physical, emotional and intellectual health.