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In the Flow, reposted from Sunny Room Studios

Why should writers add one more thing to the precious time we have allotted to writing? Some of the most powerful stories I’ve ever read keep the reader firmly in the body of the characters so that I felt every twinge and movement right along with the character. For writers to do this we must also find a clear path into our own bodies and yoga is the way that has served me well for my entire adult life.

One of yoga’s aims for over 2000 years has been to quiet and harness our thoughts and inner chatter. Controlled breathing, a major component of most forms of yoga, actually slows down brain wave patterns, which in turn, helps us to concentrate.

Conscious breathing allows us to think more clearly without the noise of what writing guru Natalie Goldberg called Monkey Mind, the endless thoughts that skitter around in our brain.

Neuroscientists have demonstrated that working with the body and with breath can help us change brain wave patterns. Beta brain waves, which operate at 13-30 cycles per second, are fine for high intensity, multitasking behavior when we try to do eight things simultaneously. It is not however a state of creativity.

Alpha brain waves, which operate at 8-13 cycles per second, allow us to concentrate on a single task. It is also the state of being that people experience in the arts, and some sports, referred to as “in the flow.”

With simple yoga practices, you can alter brain waves from frantic to calm, induce a creative frame of mind and open up the imagination and the body to make the stepping stones into writing less jarring and more natural. The bodily awareness, or present mindedness, is greatly enhanced by the focus of aligning breath with poses (asanas) of yoga.

I don’t always spend hours doing yoga each day. I might do two poses in the morning before I start writing, stretch a bit around lunch time, and then add in a few more poses in the afternoon. If you are just starting out with yoga, sample a few different styles of classes until you find one that is right for you and then adapt the poses so that you can do them whenever you need to refresh your body and calm the monkey mind.
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