Tai Hood discusses the physical and creative benefits of practicing yoga, particularly as an artist. She not only describes practical ways to alleviate aches and stiffness that can be caused by working for prolonged periods, but also covers the emotional and creative advantages of staying clear, calm and in focus. Having practiced yoga with Tai for some time, I have found it incredibly helpful. Editor
The Art in Yoga
As an artist, yoga is the perfect tool to harness our creative energy while also taking care of our body and mind. By practicing yoga and meditation, we can delve into our consciousness and connect with our creativity, allowing inspiration to emerge. As Karen Macklin in her article Awaken Your Inner Artist: Yoga and Creativity states, “Artistic expression can be deeply fulfilling, but accessing creativity isn’t always easy. 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 (poses), pranayama (breathing), 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” (yogainternational.com).
For many artists, when they are in the flow of creative expression they can work on a piece for hours on end, being unaware of the toll it takes on their body. Tight shoulders, a compressed spine, stiff neck, eye and wrist strain are all common ailments that can affect artists. By practicing yoga, tension is eased through stretching and releasing, the mind is calmer and the body becomes fitter and healthier as a result. As an artist it is important to protect your most precious instruments – your body and mind.
There are a number of yoga poses that can help boost creativity helping energy flow and enhancing concentration. The following three poses are a great start.
Helps bring fresh blood to the brain, while also relieving tension from the shoulders and the neck.
- Stand with your legs hip width apart
- Bend downwards and with bent knees and place hands beside feet. Extend your bottom towards the sky while straightening legs into a comfortable position.
- Exhale and release hands and cradle your elbows while keeping the neck long and loose and the head heavy
It is very beneficial to stay in this pose for at least two minutes. BKS Iyengar has suggested that if you stay in this pose for this amount of time, it can also alleviate depression.
Child’s pose (Balasana)
- Sit on heels, then lean forward and place your forehead on the ground (thus connecting you to the earth, this is a great pose for grounding)
- Place arms alongside the body with the palms facing up, relax and breathe.
Stay in this pose for a least two minutes.
Any pose that releases tension in the back and opens up the chest is very beneficial. This pose is a fantastic way to open up the front of the body, especially if you have been hunched over all day.
- Sit on your heels with hands on the floor behind you and fingers facing towards your body.
- Take a deep breath and as you exhale, keep chin to chest and push forward from your hips. If your spine is flexible you might feel more comfortable by allowing your head to flow back with the movement, but remember to make sure that your shoulders are back and you are squeezing the shoulder blades together.
This will open your chest, especially your heart and lungs bringing fresh oxygen to your body.
If you marry these asanas with some deep-breathing exercises and meditation you will relax, strengthen your mind-body connection, and find it easier to focus. Enjoy.
Please note: Before embarking on this practice, please make sure you are able to do so: check with your doctor, or health care professional, before starting any yoga practice. While care has been taken in compiling the guidance in this article we cannot take any responsibility for any adverse effects from your practice of yoga.
About the Author
Tai Hood has practiced yoga for over ten years. She is a certified yoga teacher and her creative interests and background are in theatre and film. Please visit www.facebook.com/taiyoga.com.au for more information.