Let’s be honest. Whatever the medium of your creative expression, you probably struggle with few or all of these: shutting your mind, dealing with stiff neck and shoulders, staying in the present moment, getting affected by the ups and downs of the writing process, battling achy wrists, and fighting insomnia. Just think about it… If our mind, body, and spirit are cluttered with thoughts and distress, how can we create? Afterall, creativity does arise in moments of stillness.
Here’s the truth. The creative process can be a little hard on the body – both physically and emotionally. Be it the long-standing hours on the feet for an artist, hours spent typing on a computer for a writer or poet, or battling artistic blocks or the emotional havoc creativity can unleash, you know the damage it can do. When the physical body suffers, so does the creative process.
Why Creativity Needs Mindfulness
I was on a deadline for my upcoming novel, Louisiana Catch, recently and there came a time where I just wanted to be with my characters aka the alternate reality that I had created, not the present moment. I would sit in one place for hours at a stretch. I would go to bed thinking about my characters and would want to spend every waking hour deciphering their next move. The only thing on my mind at every given point – my book.
Despite being a yoga teacher and “knowing” about it all, I let go of the mindfulness during my creative process. This wreaked havoc on my mind and body. My digestion and sleep felt a little off. The compressed chest, contracted spine, knotted thighs, and tight hips became a roadblock in the path of my creativity and productivity. I was constantly exhausted and emotional. I had to return to my daily yoga practice.
How Yoga Heals The Body And Mind
[pullquote]Yoga helps us connect to our true nature, focus on the present moment, and quieten the mind.[/pullquote]
Yoga is renowned for stimulating the parasympathetic nervous system, calming you down, and restoring overall balance in your life. It holds special qualities that can help creative professionals. Yes, it can free up tight hips, loosen tight muscles, elongate a compressed spine, and bring relief to our achy back and neck. But yoga does more than that. It trains us to endure as well as enjoy the demands of the artistic process, be it by relieving us from the creative block, alleviating body pain, pursuing new inspirational paths, lowering physical and emotional tension, or reducing doubts around creativity.
Researcher Chris Streeter conducted a 12-week study at Boston University of 34 individuals, half of whom spent an hour, 3 times a week, walking while the other did yoga for the same amount of time. At the end, they found that the level of GABA, a chemical associated with decreasing anxiety and improving moods, rose in the yogis by 27 percent. The walkers didn’t see anywhere close to that result.
Yoga is moving meditation. Connecting the mind, body, and spirit and integrating it with your creative journey can liberate your authentic voice while nurturing your physical body. Yoga can help lower the amount of cortisol in your brain, a hormone that appears when you’re stressed. It activates the brain amygdala, also known as the fear center, and shrinks the pre-frontal cortex, which manages self-control and discipline.
Yoga Asanas For Creative Professionals
1. Head-To-Knee Forward Bend (Janusirsasana)
This pose improves digestion and relieves any anxiety or fear. It stretches the spine, shoulders, hamstrings, and groins. It also calms the brain and helps relieve mild depression.
2. Supported Shoulder Stand (Salamba Sarvangasana)
This pose opens the throat chakra, which governs self-expression and our ability to communicate effectively. It also benefits the shoulders and neck and stimulates the thyroid gland.
3. Bridge Pose (Setu Bandhasana)
This pose calms the brain and central nervous system. It also improves the circulation of blood and stretches the chest, neck, spine, and hips. This pose strengthens the back, buttocks, and hamstrings.
4. Tree Pose (Vrksasana)
This pose is known to enhance confidence and create a more positive level of self-esteem. Standing tall and proud with good posture, whether in a variation or balancing wholeheartedly on one foot, the alignment alone broadens the shoulders, opens your heart, and raises your feel-good factor.
5. Legs-Up-The-Wall Pose (Viparita Karani)
This pose relieves tired or cramped legs and feet. It gently stretches the back legs, front torso, and the back of the neck. It also calms the mind and relieves mild backaches.
Just know that adopting a routine yoga practice benefits not only your physical health but also your emotional, spiritual, and psychological well-being. You get more dopamine and serotonin by doing yoga – these are chemicals that help you feel more relaxed and ready to handle whatever stressful situation is thrown at you.