Thursday, 11 February 2010

On Writing & Yoga

So how long is it since my last post? I'm coming to realise that for me, there are a lot of similarities between practicing yoga and writing. I really really want to do both things, but somehow I will find every excuse under the sun to avoid them.
As anyone who has kept up with this blog will see, I am at best sporadic at keeping it going – at worst, I break my promises! "One post on David Swenson, more to follow" which never materialised – and as for my retreat blogging? The less said about that the better. In my defence, while I was away in India I seemed to come out in a rash (well, substitute an appropriate India-related malady) every time I went in the computer room. I took reams and reams of notes during conference, and wrote other bits and pieces about how I was feeling about everything and what I was going through with my mental and physical journey, planning to write it all up when I got back. But I found the notes all slightly overwhelming, it was going to take so long to make any sense of it, and I came home to a week-long bout of jet lag, followed by a week-long stinking cold, all the while trying to adjust to being back at work after 3 weeks off. And even though I have had other things to blog about since I came back, and keep having tons of ideas and things I want to say, I am overwhelmed by the weight of the “backlog” I have created for myself catching up on my ashtanga retreat.

My practice goes in much the same way. I go through enthusiastic phases, and phases where I resist getting on my mat and would rather be anywhere but there. I have reached the point in the (not too distant) past where it seemed too overwhelming to go back to square one after a break from regular practice. Most of the time I would rather talk about yoga than actually do it: oh in theory I love to practice, or should that be would love to practice, but the time spent thinking/reading/talking (not writing!) about yoga vs. actual mat-time is pitiful. But this last week, I have made it to Mysore classes on Sunday, Wednesday and Thursday. I have started to feel a change in my practice, in my approach to the early starts, and I have definitely seen a change in the way my teacher is with me now that I am seen to be practicing more. During a very lovely elongated breakfast and lunch on Sunday (with fellow bloggers Helen, Globie & Susananda), Susan said something about not being able to stop once you start practicing, because your body feels so sore without it. Having been an erratic practitioner over the past year, I am more accustomed to my body hurting because of it, but this week I realised that that has changed. I had been avoiding practice on Monday & Tuesday this week, because of a huge adverse reaction I had to an adjustment on Sunday (It was in triang mukha – which always makes me angry for some reason, I had a strong adjustment and found myself completely livid – it was all I could do not to scream and or smack my poor lovely teacher!). Anyway so Monday & Tuesday was a bit of gentle stretching, but through the day at work my back and shoulders just felt so sore, and I came to realise that the only thing that would help was a proper practice. So on Wednesday I set the alarm for 5.20 and off I went, and it really really helped my back. The biggest newsflash was that I was no more tired by the end of the working day than I ever am: so today I went again. And I think (hope) that I might have cracked it now. If I can get to Mysore classes a couple of weekdays plus Sundays I just know I will start to feel the benefit.

The point was, today I realised that writing and yoga are quite similar for me. Right now, yoga is my “thing”. Those who have known me a long time remember when writing was my thing – for about four years in my mid twenties I was writing a novel, and had reached about 40,000 words when I just lost the faith and gave up. It horrifies me to thing of all of the hours I put into it, and that I just gave up so easily. But much as I am doing with my blog now, I would get so caught up in writing one section and getting it perfect, that I could be on 7 edits of a chapter before I moved on to the next one. My writing teacher was constantly saying “Just get it down, keep moving forward, don’t lose your momentum!” and much as I wanted to do it, I always seemed to fall behind somehow. So while I’m busy trying to write a well formed essay every time I post on my blog, those that I enjoy the most (and envy!) are either short, snappy and regularly updated like Skippetty Street (not to mention funny, cute AND informative, Jaime I should hate you!!), or more stream of conscience style. I need to remember my writing teacher’s words and just get on with it – or as Jaime often reminds me “Don’t think, just do!!”

But the other thing I have realised is that the two things can actually feed into one another: through yoga, I have the opportunity to write again. My problem is actually having too much to say now that I have a ready-formed topic, whereas when I was trying to create a work of fiction my imagination would frequently go AWOL. So if I lose the yoga, I lose the writing again. This post was all so clear in my mind and it has taken on a bit of a different form but I think what I’m getting at is that I am going to try and take a step forward with both things, writing and yoga, and even if they are only little baby steps I’m going to keep on taking them until they turn into big strides.


  1. P.S. You inspired me to blog too. Thanks.

  2. Hi Mel,

    Good to read you again. It's oh so true that practice will get under your skin and become something you want to do, ashtanga people seem to realise pretty fast that its either something they love and are prepared to devote time to or abandon for something else, something most likely less physically and mentally challenging. It sounds like you body has made the decision that it needs practice.

    Have you started metally composing blogs during practice yet? Something will happen, an adjustment or a sensation that I think I must remember that.

    Breakfast-Lunch was great wasn't it, same time next week.

  3. "Don't think. Just do."

    And you just did. *APPLAUSE*


  4. The practice of yoga is the best thing at the moment for me, whether that will be the case in 15yrs time I don't know - but I'm enjoying it right here, right now.


  5. I feel the same way about writing and yoga being similar, different expressions that have so much in common, I guess both are a "practice" :-)

  6. i just read the first sentences of you post and realised that you wrote exactly what I wrote in my post this morning, I will now need to read the rest to see where you ended up. But talk about a strange transfer of thoughts.

  7. I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don't know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.

  8. Thanks everyone!
    Kevin I am trying to avoid mentally blogging during practice, that will be the danger for me as I find it hard to shut my brain off which of course makes me completely unique ;) But I do find if I have a really focused practice I almost lose the memory of it afterwards - more on a weekday for some reason, maybe because it's earlier & I'm not fully awake!
    Looking forward to next week's debrief brunch with you & Helen (and Kino, Helen, not long now!!).

    What a coincidence Liza! We must both be on the same wavelength across the miles.
    And yes Claudia I agree, both are a practice, a discipline, which I obviously like to resist...

    AC that's funny you picked up on that, I did actually write in my first version that for a long time I was worried about giving up on ashtanga like I did my novel. I have accepted now that if that happens, it happens, and I just need to stop worrying about it and just get on with it.

    Thank you both for your encouragement Jaime & Lucy, I think there's more to come now I've broken the blogging drought :)

  9. Last year I organized my writing space so I'd be more productive. Then It dawned on me: maybe if I make yoga a priority in my space then I'd be more productive at at too.