As I balance my left foot and move into tree pose, I anchor myself as if a life-giving root sprung suddenly between me and the ground.
I look up and see myself in the mirror, confronting the person I see: she is more in tune with her mind. Her heartbeat and breath have become the measurement by which she estimates herself. She is alive and breathing, the clock that moves her towards mindfulness.
Yoga always makes me aware of the things I take for granted. In the peace of Shavasana, the real last pose of the class, I feel an untranslatable calm wash over me. I’m not making a mental list of all the things I have to do when I get home. I’ve broken my attachment to my phone. Most importantly, I’ve stopped comparing myself to others.
The creative process has the same quality. We often fight our impulse to make beautiful things because we don’t feel good enough or simply believe we can’t make anything worthwhile with the few minutes available to us in our busy days. Just like yoga poses, exercising our creativity can leave us refreshed. It may not be easy to get over creative fear, but the effort will always be valuable. Don’t feel overstretched. Take a moment to consider these 11 lessons I learned at yoga that taught me about creativity.
1. Make things even if there isn’t a clear end result. Many people say exercise should make you lose weight, but your mental sanity is worth infinitely more. Writing a story or painting may not have a clear path, but it’s worth the effort.
2. It’s OK to not get things right the first time. Yoga instructors may correct you, but it’s okay. It’s also freeing to write and rewrite, knowing that the effort makes the work better.
3. Don’t avoid creating because you’re afraid. Sometimes, I find myself running away from writing even when I’ve carved my day around the activity. Getting past this fear is the only way we can, literally, sweat it out until we learn. It makes us feel more alive.
4. Don’t compare yourself to others. When we’re in a yoga class, we’re not supposed to look to the experts around us who can do the poses effortlessly. Be you. Do the poses your way, just as you should create beautiful things your way. Singular focus helps you learn.
5. Do things that aren’t easy because they’re worth it. Just like those challenging yoga poses (ya hear me, utkatasana?), we should endeavor to create things that aren’t easy. The effort may reward you more than you think.
6. You can always gain more creativity. Just like balance, creativity is something you can always get back and gain more of.
7. Make more quiet space for yourself. The quiet space after yoga is like the space we should make for ourselves at the end of the day. It’s like that Chinese proverb: Make your whole year’s plans in the spring, and your day’s plans early in the morning. Now is the perfect moment.
8. Do more deep breathing. The other night as I was falling asleep, I was tense with worry about the changes in my life. I remembered my yoga breath and exhaled deeply into my stomach and felt the tension leave my body. In moments of creative doubt, breathe deeply to relax yourself.
9. Realize that getting to know yourself is just as important as getting to know other people. When you take the time to enjoy quiet, you can regain your impressions and turn them into art.
10. Show people what you’re working on. If we always hide the things we make, how can we share with others what makes us so happy?
11. You, your art, and your life will never be perfect. Let this be the freeing fact that it is.
Instead of leaving class exhausted, I feel revived. Breathing through the rigor of an intense stretch allows me to focus on the little ideas left wandering in my head that could one day be powerful.
For this moment, I feel peace.
What has yoga taught you about creativity? Share a comment below and let us know or tweet us @BellaGraceMag!
Kayla Dean is a Vegas-based writer who reports about arts and entertainment. She also interviews writers and blogs about living a creative life on kayladean.com. Find her on Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest @kayladeanwrites.