Why go on a yoga and writing retreat?
Because it is the perfect symbiosis. Both yoga and writing represent tools for self-discovery. They invite us to examine and feel what is deep beneath the layers of our being. They welcome us to observe what the eye cannot see, to explore what lives past the stories we tell ourselves and tell others about ourselves. They invite us to seek and explore who we are beyond our own limitations, doubts and fears. Together they represent an art of inquiry and exploration.
How does yoga support writing?
Halina Duraj, co-instructor and professor of literature and creative writing at University of San Diego, beautifully describes this:
The best writing is done by the body, not only the language-part of the brain. Your hand holds a pen, or your fingers touch keys, or you open your mouth and tell a story with your voice. Stories need the body to exist in a world larger than the storyteller’s own mind. Stories are born in our bodies—born in them and born by them, until we’re ready to tell or write them. Just as we carry our emotions in certain parts of our body (anxiety in our shoulders, fear in our butterfly stomachs), we hold our stories in certain parts of our bodies—our guts, our hearts. Many people think writing comes from our heads, our intellect, but that is only one of three tools we need to tell stories. As novelist Fae Ng, says, we must write first from instinct (our gut), then from imagination, then from intellect.
Most of us who have explored yoga know that we have the power to access and explore our deepest emotions when we practice asana and meditation. Sometimes it is a conscious choice. We seek to learn more, and we seek to perceive more of what’s beyond the veil. Other times, the feelings just surface without forewarning and we may be “forced” to sit with it.
When we pair yoga with creative writing, we can gain access to material that may surface from newly explored places inside ourselves. As our emotions come to the surface, we are then encouraged to explore them with “compassionate curiosity,” as Halina puts it, and bring it into our writing.
Renee Gauthier (yoga instructor and co-host) illustrates how yoga not only helps us access our emotions, but also our “somatic intelligence.”
B.K.S. Iyengar talks a lot about the intelligence of the body: “A yogi’s brain extends from the bottom of the foot to the top of his head.” When we tap into the awareness of the body, we not only tap into emotions, but also a certain level of somatic intelligence, inner knowing.
Through the yoga asana, meditation, and relaxation, we clear out mental clutter and bring to light different parts of ourselves. A new sense of awareness is revealed. What’s next? This is when the yoga continues off the mat. On this retreat we will continue our yogic exploration through writing. We will carry the energy of openness and mindfulness from our yoga practice into our writing. The yoga helps us to open up, to be less guarded or hindered, to be less attached to outcome. The writing will be an opportunity to go deeper in this self-exploration. This retreat will nurture and support discovery and creative expression, as well as remind us of the wisdom that is already there.
How will this writing and yoga retreat benefit you?
The Art of Inquiry Yoga Retreat will offer each of us strategies to deepen and support both our yoga and writing practices. The retreat is open to practitioners of all levels, and yogis/yoginis and writers alike.
During our time together we will:
- Learn new skills and techniques for accessing our creative energy.
- Identify meaningful raw material for our writing during and after the retreat, as well as explore new paths for existing projects.
- Uncover areas where we feel blocked or stagnant physically, mentally, emotionally, and energetically.
Through movement, mindfulness, and creative expression, our students will come home to a more integrated, balanced, and inspired sense of self. As retreat leaders, we hope that our students will leave the retreat armed with the tools and the motivation to continue their own journey in the Art of Inquiry – exploration in yoga and writing.
Created and co-written by Paloma Neuman, Renee Gauthier and Halina Duraj.
Learn more about The Art of Inquiry – Explorations in Writing and Yoga Retreat coming up May 31st – June 5th at Prana del Mar by visiting the My Dharma website.