Writing and Yoga

Last month, I took a one-night workshop on yoga and writing with middle grade author Jenny Meyerhoff. Jenny is an avid yogi and says her practice has helped immensely with her writing. I was intrigued (which is why I went) but I admit, also a little skeptical. Breathing and stretching? How could that help with my writing?

But I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised by the concept! During the workshop, we did yoga poses and breathing exercises for stress relief, creativity, and focus. We also did some poses to relieve back strain from constant butts in chairs!

When I got home, I looked up ‘yoga and writing’ online and thousands of matches came up! I didn’t know this was a thing, but there are countless yoga retreats, classes, and groups specifically meant for writers.

The philosophy behind the connection makes great sense, actually — that the stillness and calm (hopefully) achieved during yoga can help writers quiet the noise and tune in to their inner clarity and thoughts. While in a yoga pose, breathing, or meditating, you concentrate on clearing away worries of what’s on your to-do list or the pile on your desk, allowing your mind to be open to ideas and inspiration. This is essential for the dig-deep kind of writing, where you’re truly “in” the work.

There are many times I’ve shoved my overfilled calendar into a drawer and put my phone on silent, yet I still find my mind drifting to those nagging little tasks while I’m writing. Since the workshop, I’ve been trying to practice yoga breathing when that happens, and I’ve found it does help bring me back to the work.

Another benefit and connection between yoga and writing is learning to take things at your own pace. And not compare! In yoga, it’s not important what the person next to you is doing (even if it’s the most amazing eagle pose you’ve ever seen), you just focus on what you can do.  Same goes for writing. When you compare yourself to another (undoubtedly more successful) writer, we all know that never turns out well.

Yoga also can help writers learn to move on when a manuscript needs to be put aside or doesn’t sell, as the practice teaches acceptance.

Yoga also perfects your posture, increases your blood flow, and improves balance. On top of all that, it boosts creativity! Hard to argue with those benefits for us writerly people who often sit for hours, wracking our brains and wrecking our backs 🙂

I plan to incorporate yoga into my writing this summer, and I’m excited to see what happens. Wish me luck. Namaste!

Michele Weber Hurwitz on Twitter
Michele Weber Hurwitz

Michele Weber Hurwitz is the author of Ethan Marcus Stands Up (Simon & Schuster/Aladdin), The Summer I Saved the World in 65 Days and Calli Be Gold (both Penguin Random House). Visit her at www.micheleweberhurwitz.com


4 responses to “Writing and Yoga

  1. I love my weekly gentle yoga class, and plan my schedule around it. This class is about soft stretching, balance and relaxation techniques. I also meet a few fine folk downward-dogging around me-:D, and I feel refreshed and stressless afterward. A much needed break from authoring!

  2. You know I have never liked yoga. All that time and you never get any farther than the same little rubber rectangle you started off on. Now if the object of the game was to capture other peoples rubber rectangle and the person with the biggest stack of them at the end of yoga wins, I would totally play that game! All that said, I do have a breathing and meditation practice that’s more western in focus but works really well for me in regaining focus. I also have a set of not-yoga stretches I try to do throughout my working day. So I’m sure that whatever it is about yoga that speaks to so many, is valuable.

  3. Absolutely! You’re welcome 🙂

  4. I think anything that gets you out of your head and into the moment helps your writing. I love yoga!!! Thanks for inspiring me to get back to it 😉