Yoga for writers and (over)thinkers: strengthening the container, cultivating the witness
You are invited to participate in a 3-hour workshop that integrates a number of yogic paths in order to give you as a writer or (over)thinker resilience as you move through your writing or any intellectual/creative practice or perhaps simply a thorny life issue.
At the beginning of the workshop we will focus on asanas and pranayama (postures and breath) to give you a series of techniques that you can bring with you to integrate into your every day. You do not need to be an experienced yogi for this workshop. These will be simple exercises and movements, that when repeated throughout the day can have a profoundly strengthening effect. This can help your body from seizing up into writer’s ‘slumpasana’ and all the attendant aches and pains that can go along with that. As anyone who writes (or works in an office) for a living knows, this seemingly un-physically challenging position of sitting and typing can create issues in our backs, necks, shoulders, wrists and legs, especially as we get older. There are simple things you can do throughout the day to loosen your body and breath practices to aid in concentration and also undercutting stress response. This section is considered Hatha Yoga, the path most people think of as yoga: the body as a mode of transformation.
We will then work with forms of meditation as ways to settle into and receive answers for any knotty questions about your writing or other life issues. This is Raja Yoga. This will also be where we begin to cultivate the witness. The witness is that which watches us think and act. In Kripalu yoga we talk about cultivating a compassionate witness; Swami Kripalu (1913-81), the founder of this lineage said: “Self-observation without judgment is the highest form of spiritual practice.” This self-observation applies to the pranayama and asanas as well, but in meditation we are engaged with this task in a direct way. We will also discuss tools for actively cultivating the witness in order to ‘ride the waves’ of intensity that can emerge in writing and in life, rather than jump off into the many modes of distraction and diversion.
Throughout the workshop we will also be walking the less well-known path of Jnana yoga, the intellectual path of self-study. This is when the writing comes in more directly. Throughout the workshop, you will be invited to write and engage your mind in what your body and heart are discovering on the mat.
If you have a pre-existing writing practice, I encourage you to bring whatever it is you write on or with (assuming it is not WiFi dependent) and even some of your work. There will be opportunities to investigate any rough patches you may be having either with the content or process of your writing. I will invite you at the beginning of the workshop to set an intention regarding any of these questions, so the questions will be brewing inside you throughout, with a chance to invite new perspectives on these questions throughout the various stages of the workshop. If you do not have a writing practice, these exercises can be applied to any thorny issues in your life or other creative/intellectual endeavors.
We may have time to read some of what you write to one another, perhaps in pairs, perhaps to the whole group. One way of strengthening the witness is allowing another to temporarily act as your witness; the experience of conscious listening can be quite transformative, both as the receiver and the listener. This can include reading writing or simply speaking, then hearing from the listener what they received. It is not a critique session but instead a way to simply hear, after you have spoke or read, what another heard from you, and to hear yourself either read or speak aloud, without interruption.
What you will come away with after the workshop are some tools you can use in your everyday life to ground your body and breath, thereby strengthening your ability to write or create in any way, which manifests as enhanced resilience to continue creating and living through rough patches. While this workshop will be focused on yoga for writers, these tools can be used in relation to other forms of creative and intellectual endeavors, including writing as a form of self-study. The practice of cultivating the witness is useful no matter what you do in life, as it offers methods to move through even the most challenging times without checking out.
If interested, please reserve a spot, as the studio is small and space is limited.
Sunday, December 8, 1-4pm, Inwood Movement, 5030 Broadway #613.
Subway: A to 207th or 1 to 215th.
Fee: $60 advanced payment/$65 at the door (assuming there is space). Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions. If you want to attend but money is an issue, get in touch. I don’t want to turn away anyone for lack of funds. In relation to this, if you can pay a little more, please do, so I can subsidize a spot for someone who cannot pay the full amount.