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  • Writer's pictureLouisa MF

Yoga to Unearth Your Voice

Updated: Apr 26

Spring has sprung here in my corner of the Earth but, my goodness, what strange times we are living in.

On the one hand, current global affairs and the fate of the planet saddens me to the bone, leaving me only to feel despair, and yet, personally, I feel so alive and so ready to write my words.

Opportunities abound and, surrounded by inspiration, I am both excited and optimistic for the future.

One word: Conflicted.

But then, that’s life on this planet of duality, isn’t it?

Dark and light. You can’t have one without the other.

In my April offering of TYL, I briefly outlined the Niyamas (as far as my understanding allows), and I’ve been reflecting on them all month in relation to my writing.

Not least because I’ve been preparing to share how yoga helps with writing at the Bournemouth Writing Festival.

My session Unearth Your Voice is all about finding - unearthing - the hidden aspect of ourselves, or the truth of who we are that’s underneath all of the nonsense; all of the stuff that we or others layer over our essence, and releasing this “stuff” is perhaps the most important part of writing from the heart.

As writers, we spend so much time in our heads - writing from the mind - and I find that when I write from this place, something which is almost automatic, I hardly have time to remember to breathe.

Even though I live by the breath, I still forget! I get caught and wrapped-up in my thoughts and what it is I want to write.

Often excited and eager to get down every word, I pretty much deprive myself of breath and of its flowing energy (and thus to the connection to my truth).

Breath awareness turns the act of writing into a full body, mind and spirit practice, and when my words come from the heart it is a completely different experience to writing from the head/mind alone.

There’s a wisdom in our bodies that, as writers, we can forget. Even those among us who are apparently ‘aware’.

Practices are called “practises” because they are to be practiced.

Repeatedly turned to because of the nature of our minds to get so easily wrapped up in thought and ego, forgetting that our heads are attached to a body; a breathing, hurting, aching, desiring, wanting, sensation-feeling body.

Memories, feelings and thoughts don’t just come from the mind.

They are stored in our bodies, and so to ignore this vault of experience and wisdom is at a huge loss to our words.

Observing the Niyama as writers is helpful not just to more easily access the wealth we have within our bodies, but the observances also remind us of how yoga can support us as writers.

For instance, the breath and awareness of our breathing, and breathing practices (pranayama), can help us to ride through any uncomfortable moments, perhaps when we are reliving or imagining something traumatic or painful.

More positively, the flow of creative energy, or life force (prana), is a source of power and imagination. Much like the food that feeds the flame.

Gentle seated and desk-friendly movement (asana) can help us to free-up any stagnant energy and connect to the source that is constantly available.

Freeing the body allows us to sit longer and to get the work done. Although, of course, standing up and moving and walking is a wonderful thing to do as well. Regular movement breaks are a must!

The element of self-reflection (svadhyaya) as part of a free-writing practice enables us to see any patterns in our thinking that may be holding us back.

And any cultivation of the quiet space within (pratyahara) allows us to connect to the inner voice and to silence all of the noise that often tries to drown it out.

Lastly, the use of a personal affirmation (mantra) reminds us to focus on that which is most important to us as writers: whether that’s to get the work done (500 words a day) or to write from the heart without fear or shame or concern as to what others may or may not think.

Whether our ambition is to write for others to read or just as a form of self-expression because it feels like the right way - the only way - to open-up, observing the Niyamas as part of our personal practice, both as writers and as practitioners of yoga, is only strengthened by our attempts to become better humans.

To live more fully.

To love more openly.

To write more authentically.

Nothing, in my opinion, is more important, nor more beautiful.

(Please note: This post was taken from The Yoga Letters for Writers #4

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