One too many times I have left a yoga class to find I am full of ideas, it is as though someone smacked me in the head and cleared out all the junk that was in the way. Unfortunately, there are a few people in my life that know this all too well as I usually pick up the phone and call to share. Sometimes the ideas are as simple as a unique and fun activity to do that day, a new recipe to try, an obscure epiphany I have had or even as extreme as a lofty business idea.
I was recently trying to explore creative ways to stay busy doing the things I love and less busy doing the things I do not love and I found myself pulling out my yoga mat as if the solution was on written on it. But truth be told the solution usually is on my mat (metaphorically speaking) and that is when I realized how powerful yoga can be to drive creative and innovative thought.
Being the scientific minded person that I am I hoped that there was compelling rigorous data surrounding this topic. What I found was not quite that but there is data (Leiden University 2014 and Khalsa & Cope 2006), which is both promising and reassuring we will eventually find a way to prove this or study it more in depth. For now, the social experiments appear to align what people like myself and many others have experienced, therefore I suggest we don’t discredit the idea of yoga to drive creative and innovative thought rather embrace it. How can you foster creativity through yoga? Its not that complicated, practice yoga, it is through the meditation and physical techniques that the light bulbs start to go off.
The easiest option is attend a yoga class. There you will perform a series of poses you focus on guided by someone else so you don’t have to do any of the thinking. In these classes you will also spend some time at the beginning and end in a short meditation allowing you to bring it all together (the mind and the body). Through the postures, especially the hip and shoulders where we carry most of our tension, you will have the opportunity to release that tension, open up and let go of the emotions that come along with that tension. These are what I have found form creativeness barriers, at least from a physical standpoint. The time spent focusing on one thing will guide you closer to clarity (mentally speaking) and the ability to be in the present.
The meditations will also bring you to the present and free your mind of the obstacles that prohibited your creative thought (in yoga we call this the noise or scattered thoughts we get with a monkey brain). Through your physical practice you will also gain confidence but keep your ego at bay because yoga not only allows but promotes stepping outside of your comfort zone. If you practice routinely this becomes a gradual and powerful thing that supports all aspects of your life.
If you do not have the ability to practice frequently then when you do get the chance I encourage you to play around with your edge in various poses that peak your curiosity. This will build your confidence. By edge I mean find the place in each pose where you are extremely challenged but are not in danger of overdoing it or harming yourself. Find that place that feels like progress or uncharted territory but with the slightest amount of room for growth the next time around, play with that pose during class and revisit at the end before you roll up your mat to see how your focus and attempt at it earlier have allowed you to improve just in a short timeframe.
Although most of these benefits impact you without you even realizing you also have the opportunity to begin your practice with the mindset that you open to receiving and letting go thus taking these elements of reward to the next level. Say this as you practice …”Creativity flows where the mind goes”, designate this as the theme to your practice if you are in search of inspiration that day.
This new found creativity should touch every aspect of your life. When you leave class start thinking about that work project that has fallen stagnant or that unfinished piece of art left at home. The added confidence you have achieved will might even allow you to share your newfound discoveries with others be that colleges or loved ones.
If you do not have time to attend class, do not despair, there are a few poses you can try at home that focus on the hips and require enough focus you can get out of your open mind for a few minutes. Make sure to start with a few deep breaths with your eyes closed and bring yourself into the space then onto you mat before you begin and warm up with a few cat and cows.
- Surya Namaskar A (Sun Salutation A)
- Garudasana (Eagle pose)
- Eka Pada Rajakapotasana (Pigeon pose)
- Ustrasana (Camel pose)
- Trikonasana (Triangle pose)
- Humble Virabhadrasana I (Warrior I with hands bound behind back)
If doing poses is not an option or you want an alternative spend at least 10 minutes with a short mediation. In this mediation focus on your body, how it feels and relaxing each major part of the body allowing any thoughts to fleet before they linger. Practice letting go of distractions and tap into your originality by harmonizing your mind and your body, creating awareness of the self. Try to listen to what you have to say and think rather than others by removing the noise that tends to fight for attention.
Creativity arises naturally in states of stillness and presence, which can be elusive when we are distracted by daily preoccupations and scattered thoughts. This is why yoga is such a gift for the artist. When we practice awareness in asana, pranaayama, and meditation, we learn to see—and let go of—the distractions of the mind. It is from this place of clear seeing that inspiration springs forth.– Karen Macklin
There we have it, go get on that mat to get creative and don’t be afraid to share those creative thoughts with your boss, colleague, spouse or partner. Use yoga techniques as your secret weapon to unlock creative solutions to the obstacles you face.
If you have an experience to share where creativity was found through yoga or have any other suggestions for creative poses or mediation techniques, I would love to hear about them. Please leave a comment.