Dr. Anastasia Trekles
Like a lot of people today, I like yoga. I actually like it a lot, and have been practicing actively nearly every single day (and sometimes twice a day) for over ten years. It’s the best form of exercise I’ve been able to find, as it makes me stronger (much stronger than I was with traditional weightlifting and cardio) and helps me focus. When you’re going through a yoga class, it’s tough to think about anything else – otherwise you’ll fall down! Yoga is both exercise and a means to help you forget about your problems, even if it’s just for a little while.
So what does yoga have to do with writing? Obviously, we need to concentrate when we write, and sometimes that means overcoming things that get in our way. The dreaded writer’s block comes in many forms, but even if you don’t practice yoga, its teachings can give you tools to help overcome your obstacles.
Take, for instance, the chakra system, which yogis believe governs how our bodies and minds work together to eventually help us connect to the “divine,” or whatever spiritual force you might believe is out there (you definitely don’t have to be a Hindu to be into yoga or benefit from the principles behind it). Even if you aren’t sold on the idea that our bodies have anything but blood and lymph and such moving within us, the concept of the chakras can teach us a lot about ourselves, our habits of mind, and how our bodies can help us tap into thoughts and feelings. That is, if you keep an open mind!
The seven chakras, very simply summarized, are as follows:
1. The root chakra (“Muladhara” in Sanskrit) governs your instincts and connection with the physical body and earth below, and is located at the base of your spine.
2. The sacral chakra (“Svadhisthana”) governs passion, emotions, and creativity, and is in your pelvis and hip area.
3. The core chakra (“Manipura”) governs personal power, identity, and ego, and is in your solar plexus.
4. The heart chakra (“Anahata”) governs love and compassion, and is in the center of your chest.
5. The throat chakra (“Visuddha”) governs authentic voice, truth, and originality, and is in the neck and shoulders.
6. The third eye chakra (“Ajna”) is all about clear thought, vision, and moving beyond the physical into the spiritual realm. It’s located right between your eyebrows.
7. The final chakra (“Sahasrara”) can be thought of like a crown on the top of your head – the “thousand-petaled lotus” as it is sometimes called. It is all about unity with that force beyond ourselves (the word “yoga” means union, after all), peace, and going beyond your own ego and limitations.
Put into practical terms, exercises that help you align these key points in your body can help you clear your mind, spark creativity, and put you in the mood to write. Don’t believe it? Before you start your next writing session, try sitting on the floor in a simple cross-legged position, and just move your torso around in a circle for a minute. Big circles or little ones make no difference – do whatever is comfortable and feels good for you (this movement should feel very liberating!). Make sure to go the other direction at some point, and breathe deeply as you move.
This will help you connect to your hips, pelvis, and stomach area, the second chakra and the home of creativity. It’ll literally “get your juices flowing,” and if that’s not enough for you, try some of the other poses noted by the Chopra Center to help you activate your creativity. You can also try some of the advice offered by Katrina Pfannkuch, who offers a lot of ideas about creativity and all of the chakras in her blog.
Once you’ve spent some time moving that second chakra around, your hips might feel a little looser, you might be able to breathe a little easier, and maybe, just maybe, you’ll be encouraged to get past that hurdle that’s kept you from the next leg of your writing journey. For some of us, it might seem like a stretch, but your body and your mind are inherently connected, and what affects one, affects the other. Writing may be an exercise of the mind, but it needs your body to be on board in order for you to get the most out of it. So, give it a try! You might be amazed at what a few minutes shaking your hips might be able to do for your creativity.
is the new president of Indiana Writers' Consortium. She is also a clinical professor and the Director of Learning Technologies at Purdue University North Central in Westville, Indiana. Dr. Trekles has an extensive background with educational technology, including design and pedagogical strategies as well as the effective integration of various technologies into teaching. Her specialty area is instructional design for online learning and technology integration, and in addition to providing professional development and mentorship for other faculty, she has taught a wide array of undergraduate- and graduate-level courses in these areas, both in-classroom and via distance education. Additionally, Dr. Trekles holds a BA in English, and has taught undergraduate courses in writing for Web and electronic publications.
Dr. Trekles is the author of the textbook, Putting People First: Human Issues in Instructional Technology, and has spent much of her career working toward understanding and teaching others how to employ universal and accessible design practices into online learning materials. In her spare time, she enjoys nature, photography, , and writing fiction.