Yoga does far more than stretch and tone the body. For writers and artists there are many benefits to having a regular practice. From on-the-spot relief from creative block and easing pains and tension, to reducing writing doubt and finding new inspiration, the following yoga asanas each hold special qualities that benefit writers and artists. Whatever the medium of your creative expression, yoga connects you with your creative mind, body, and soul. Finding an asana practice that best complements your creative work can only enhance it.
Every artist knows that the creative process can be a little hard on the body. Writers rarely escape wrist, neck or back ache from long hours spent typing on a computer, while visual artists can spend entire days on their feet or crouching in uncomfortable positions. When the physical body suffers, so does the creative process. It can be tricky to feel fluid in both inspiration and prose when your body is riddled with knots, in pain or aching and sore.
It’s also hard to think clearly and feel inspired when your spine is contracted or your chest is tight. Yoga asanas elongate a compressed spine, free up tight hips, and give our bodies the stamina they need to endure, as well as enjoy the demands of the artistic process, undistracted by sore necks or aching backs. Yoga also helps us reconnect to the present moment, turn inward and quiet the mind, allowing us to reconnect with our true nature.
Creativity Arises Naturally in Moments Stillness
Creativity arises naturally in moments stillness, in ease and presence but these can be elusive when we are distracted or scattered in our thoughts, which is one of many reasons why yoga is such an exquisite practice for the creative soul. If your brain and spirit is cluttered with emotional distress it can be far harder to create.
By having a consistent yoga practice, however slight, you are engaging and connecting body, mind and soul, in a moving meditation. This integration of body, mind and spirit is the key to feeling flow in both your creative work and life. Even during the course of your work if feeling creatively blocked, pausing to stop in asana for even a minute can clear any resistance and frequently offer inspiration too.
Many are reluctant to try the asanas of yoga because they believe they aren’t flexible enough but swiftly find that’s one of the most immediate benefits of yoga practice: being more fluid and flexible. Every new activity is resisted by the body initially but with a little dedication and consistent practice – even just ten minutes a day – even the stiffest of bodies can be loosened, and with that, your inspiration and creativity can be loosened too.
Writers might focus on therapeutic work for their neck, shoulders, backs and wrists. While painters might practice long holds in poses to train for hours spent standing while working on a canvas. Practicing your art and yoga together can ignite your creative fire and liberate your authentic voice and deepest truths. Here are seven yoga asanas with specific benefits for writers and artists.
Yoga Asanas for Writers and Artists
Plough (Halasana) – This can be especially beneficial when you have a creative block as it is very calming to the mind, thereby allowing your brain to still so your creativity can again flourish. It is also pain-relieving to the neck and back, as well as good for reliving tension headaches, all of which can arise from a long stint of writing.
Tree Pose (Vrksasana) – This powerful pose (see image at the start of the post) is particularly useful for writers and artists as it helps combat a slumped posture by strengthening the core and upper back, stretching everything from your calves to your cervical spine, in turn relieving tension and discomfort.
Legs up the Wall Pose (Viparita Karani) – This is a simple pose helps with circulation. It also can relieve headaches, reduce anxiety about your creative work, relieve tired, achy feet and legs, as well as lessen backache from a long stint at the computer. It’s also a great pose for plotting when you’re stuck as the inverted pose often causes a shift in your thinking, waking up latent creativity.
Child pose (Balasana) – A wonderful stress-reliever, this asana can be calming when overwhelmed and in need of a moment of calm and stillness. It also relieves back and neck pain when done with head and torso supported.
Corpse Pose (Savasana) – This is incredibly stress-relieving, calming both body and mind. Also reducing depression, fatigue, and stress headaches, the corpse pose is a lovely way to end your working day.
Standing Half-forward Bend (Ardha Uttanasana) – When you spend a lot of time on a chair, the longer you sit, the tighter your hamstrings become. This stretch will help loosen them up and allow your back to move more freely. (With any neck injury, do not lift your head to look forward, keep looking at the ground instead).
Downward-facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana) – Of all the yoga asanas, the downward-facing dog is perhaps the swiftest energiser and especially useful if you only have time to do one asana. Calming the brain and relieving stress and mild depression, holding this pose stretches the shoulders, hamstrings, calves, arches, and hands, strengthening the arms and legs, energising the body and relieving headache, insomnia, back pain, and fatigue. It’s very useful when a deadline is looming for instance, and also a great asana to do in the middle of your writing day, especially if you experience writer’s block or feel your energy waning.
- Keep your feet hip-width apart, your hands shoulder-width apart and your legs straight.
- Press your palms and fingers flat into the ground and imagine you’re trying to push the floor apart between your hands and feet.
- Hold the position while breathing deeply.
Relieve Aches and Pains Without Leaving Your Desk
Of course not everyone has the luxury of being able to step away from their desk to do a few yoga asanas in the course of their working day. So as a little extra addition, here are some exercises you can do without even leaving your chair: 8 Seated Yoga Poses You Can Do from a Chair | SparkPeople
“No art takes places without inspiration. Every artist also needs effective knowledge of his or her tools (e.g., does a certain brush function well with a particular kind of paint?). What’s more, artists need effective techniques for using those tools. Likewise, to express ourselves skilfully with maximum efficiency and minimum effort, we need to investigate the most effective ways of using the mind and body since, in the end, they are the only “tools” we truly possess in life.” ~ H. E. Davey, Japanese Yoga: The Way of Dynamic Meditation