This morning on CBS I watched a segment highlighting how a school in California has incorporated yoga into its daily curriculum. The result, the school administrator said, was fewer dropouts and higher test scores. The students claimed doing yoga helped them concentrate, think things through, and feel more relaxed.
I’ve been taking yoga classes since 2001. I started after shoulder and neck pain sent me to a chiropractor. After the chiropractor helped ease the pain, I asked him what I could do on my own to prevent the pain returning. He recommended yoga, and so I signed up for a class.
And it’s helped.
There are different styles of yoga being taught, and over the years I’ve had several different instructors, each approaching the practice in different ways. Some use the proper sanskrit terms (asana, prana, pranayama), others use the common pose descriptions (down dog, child’s position, warrior 2). I’ve never done the style where they kick up the heat, nor the one where you move rapidly through the poses. I don’t think I’d like either of those, and I’m not sure sweating or moving rapidly through a pose is what my body needs.
As a writer, I’m often sitting in front of my computer, concentrating on a story for hours at a time. I forget to sit up straight, shoulders back. No, the more involved I become in my writing, the more I lean toward the computer’s monitor. I also don’t always remember to keep my hands supported (to avoid carpal tunnel), and I definitely forget to stand up and
move around. So, of course, the more I’m into a story, the more trouble I have with my back, my legs, and my neck.
I try to make it to two yoga classes a week. I do a few poses at home in between those classes, but not for any extended time and not on a regular schedule, and I definitely notice more physical discomfort when I miss class for any extended amount of time.
I also walk. Having a dog and living in a condo where I can’t simply let him loose when he needs to go out, forces me to walk. These aren’t the cardio vascular walks exercise gurus recommend. No we walk a ways and then he catches a scent he has to investigate so we pause as he checks out the scent. It may not be helping my heart all that much, but these walks help my legs and give me a chance to think.
Both the yoga and the walking, in my opinion, help with my writing. With yoga we’re told to clear our minds, let go of all thoughts for a while, to simply concentrate on our breathing and our body. With the walking, I can let thoughts wander in and out of my consciousness as Zuri and I head over to look at the lake (It’s wild today). With either activity, I return to my computer refreshed and ready to go to work. As a writer, that’s exactly what I need.
What exercises work for you? Why?