After a recent writers’ collaboration session, which, by the way, was hosted online, I was stiff and sore from sitting for so long. And I heard more than one person complain about their daily stress dealing with work, life and trying to find time for their creative endeavors. This inspired me to write a short article on yoga for writers.
Writing requires loads of hard work, including pouring over books in research, lashing oneself to hard desk chairs, striving to meet deadlines and spending hours typing on keyboards. This effort often leads to tightness, tension, headaches and let us not forget carpal tunnel syndrome. If you’re in the business of writing, yoga is a phenomenal way to prevent these and is also proven to increase productivity and stimulate creativity. According to the National Institute of Health, regular yoga practice may help reduce anxiety, slow your breathing, lower blood pressure and assist your heart and mind to work more efficiently and in sync.
As a practitioner, RYT, and student of yoga, one of the best-known methods of stress reduction, I’ve compiled a short list of asanas—or poses—that you can exercise each day to help calm your mind and keep you relaxed and creative. And remember, always consult your doctor before proceeding with any new exercise program.
Pranayama: Breath, or Prana, is our most readily available resource for slowing anxious heart rates and sustaining energy. It’s also the core of all yoga poses. Breathing is its own yogic asana with entire classes dedicated to a variety of breath techniques designed to help combat the habit of shallow breathing. By focusing your mind on taking longer, slower and more substantial breaths that resonate from the diaphragm, you’ll instantaneously open clogged airways and release intuitive and creative energies.
Forearm and Wrist Twist: Although not a traditional yoga asana, this endeavor releases tension in the neck, shoulder and wrist tendons and related muscles. Place the right palm at the wall, spreading your fingers equally. Extend your elbow, pressing into the wall. Wait a few breaths then turn your head to the left, bringing the tip of the right shoulder blade in towards the front of your body. Hold and breathe in and out then repeat on the other side.
Bidalasana: Sometimes called the ‘Cat Pose,’ Bidalasana loosens and strengthens back and neck muscles. Begin on hands and knees with palms flat on the floor directly under your shoulders. Inhaling, look upward and let your belly sink to the floor on your exhale. Inhale again then arch your back on your next exhale, allowing your head to drop toward the floor. Slowly, repeat this concave/convex series several times, making sure not to over-exaggerate the pose.
Shoulder Stretch: This asana requires a rolled towel or exercise band. Begin by kneeling on the floor and holding the towel/band out in front of you with your arms extended. Slowly, raise your arms, lifting the towel/band up and over your head going back as far as comfortable. Hold for a few breaths then release. Do this several times to relax tension in shoulders and neck. Kneeling will gradually align posture. By placing another rolled towel or mat directly behind the knees, you’ll open knee joints as you kneel and loosen tight calf muscles.
This is just a sampling of asanas you can use daily to release and relax as you meet writing deadlines. For more, check out all the amazing resources by writers who have expertise in the health and wellness field. I’ve found these and other asanas to be a welcome break in my day leaving me both energized and inspired. I hope you do too.