At the risk of resembling the spring bloom on the bottom right in the excellent botanical guide by Dylan Meconis pictured above, I want to talk a little about how yoga is helping my writing.
I take yin yoga classes. Someone today called it naptime yoga, and it’s true that it’s almost entirely done seated or lying down. It is challenging, though. You hold each pose for three to five minutes. You definitely feel it.
But as satisfying as it can be physically, and I generally do come out of class feeling significantly bendier, what keeps me there week after week is the way I disobey the instructor.
See, one of the classes I attend is on Sunday afternoon. Sunday has also become the day on which I’m most likely to get a solid amount of writing done. So I tend to show up having spent the time immediately preceding on my manuscript.
Yin classes are quiet. Because you spend so much time in each pose, your mind is likely to wander. The teacher makes gentle comments to bring you back to the mat. One I’ve heard many times: “Drop out of the stories in your head.”
I do the opposite. As I lean back into saddle pose, wincing or smiling depending on how tight my quads are, I drop into the scene I’ve just been working on. As my muscles first protest, then gradually relax, I often find I’ve figured out what happens next.
This is not substantively different, I realize, than thinking about your book in the shower, or while you ride your bike, or when you’re in bed on the edge of sleep. These are all times when your brain can go sideways productively, bypassing the top-level chatter of anxieties and errands to get to wherever the story comes from.
But I love the getting away with something feeling I get when the teacher tells us to drop out of the stories, and instead I drop in.