"Before you waited for 'the muse' to pay a visit, now you walk right to her living room."
That's one way Peter Ferko, the author of Yoga for Artists, describes the benefits of the mind-body practice when it comes to creativity.
We all know stress is a major creativity-killer. Bringing the busy mind back to the body and finding stillness in mindful movement is a game-changer when it comes to reducing stress.
Ferko writes "the opposite of stress is not just relaxing or not doing, it's balance". I'd say it's also profound joy. Joy helps access the 'flow' state which again brings out more joy.
"...(yoga) it's helping to integrate and balance the body, the mind, and – this is the key – the energy that enlivens, heals and expresses through this complex vehicle."
Personally I need yoga to be able to create anything – not only to keep my body and mind open, but to find the clarity and focus from which to start.
There are countless levels on which the yoga practice can support your art, and here's three of them:
1. Opening up the body and releasing blocks
With the right movement and breathwork we are creating space inside our bodies. By connecting the two elements we can easily slip into meditative state, which then creates space inside the mind – an essential platform for creativity to grow.
It's becoming common knowledge and widely accepted science that we store emotions and trauma in our bodies. The body has an incredibly accurate memory that can keep you stuck on more than physical level. Our deepest issues, even the ones we're conscious of, can't be solved by picking the tip of the iceberg. To dig deeper we need to get back to our bodies that work with the subconscious. We need that access for any profound transformation.
Going back to the physical effects, the therapeutic movement will help open and heal our joints, tendons, ligaments and the whole structure maintaining the art-making vehicle.
2. Strengthening inside out
Feeling strong and energetic will give you a boost in anything. Nothing new in that. But again we want to get deeper than that.
Inner strength is a huge resource that can be accessed by the smallest movement. There's plenty of research showing how yoga improves self-esteem both long term and immediately. One piece of interesting research is showing how yoga has greater effect than 'power poses', when it comes to public performance and performance anxiety.
Having the inner power to bring your work out of the drawer and risking to be seen is something artists struggle with all the time. Wouldn't it be amazing if it was just a tiny bit easier?
Plus, a strong core will help you sit up straight and (for example) write for longer periods of time, and still have a healthy back.
3. Relaxing the mind
A masterpiece can't be expected to appear on an over-used canvas. At least it'll be hard to start and see clearly. We need to actually, really, make room for creativity.
After being able to release the shoulders and lower back, it's time to relax the mind. Yoga is in nature a meditative practice, as it's all about mindful movement lead by the breath. By focus and flow we are able to give our analyzing mind the rest it needs – the kind of rest that even sleep can't provide.