Blog highlight: Yoga/writing

Note: While we are in India, we intend to post new items if we have the Internet access. In the meantime, to keep our mojo going, we’re running some of our most popular posts.

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There are an unusual number of classroom teachers in any given Ashtanga practice room. I’ve been noticing this phenomenon for a while now.

I’m not going to try to explain it here. The new school year has me thinking about it, though, and about how often I draw on my experiences as a writing teacher to teach Ashtanga, and vice versa. I often tell little yoga parables to my students to instruct them on a given aspect of writing.

Like courage: You have to take chances as a writer, I’ll say, and quote something Tim has said about the fears we overcome in the “heroic practice”: “It’s only courageous if you have fear to begin with.” Tim was talking about pincha myaurasana. I was talking about revising your writing.

So here are a few things I think writing and yoga share:

“Practice and all is coming.” Becoming a good writer requires a lot of work, and the more writing you do the better you get.

Failure is inevitable. A related, but different aspect of writing. You have to accept you won’t get it right the first, second, third, fourth, fifth time (and etcetera). The key is to accept the failure, and revise it. True for yoga practice (“They don’t call it ‘daily perfect’,” Shayna used to say). I remember Diana Christinson passing out a little slip of paper after her Sunday led primary class with a quote from Winston Churchill on it: “Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm.” True for Ashtanga. True for writing.

Focus is key. The instant you stop paying attention to what you’re saying and the way you’re saying it, you stop making sense. The instant you stop paying attention to the pose and the way you’re doing it, you stop doing yoga.

In the original.

“sthira sukham asanam.” From the Yoga Sutras, II.46, the elusive combination of stability and lightness where you are. We all know that doesn’t happen without a lot of sweat. You want to get to a place where your writing (practice) seems comfortable and effortless, even though it has in fact taken you a lot of effort (practice) to get there.

Wisdom comes from it. One of the best ways to understand the world is to write about it. Writing will make you smarter, more aware, more engaged with the universe, if you practice it with right effort, without shirking or phoning it in–with total honesty. Sound familiar?

There’s more, of course, and many things for the teacher to learn from the students. But that’s a different post.

Posted by Bobbie

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theconfluencecountdown

Two Ashtangis write about their practice and their teachers.

One thought on “Blog highlight: Yoga/writing”

  1. Lovely – that hit the nail on the head for me right now (agonizing over writing a research proposal for my PhD and practicing 2nd series on its own for the first time at the moment – while also being a hopeless and therefore often miserable perfectionist). Thank you.

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