I AM NOT A FLEXIBLE PERSON! I played rugby for many years, and in hindsight I didn’t stretch nearly enough. Over the years I’ve injured my back, trapped nerves in my neck, and knocked both shoulders out of alignment. You may wonder why any of this is important to a Storyteller who writes every day, but I assure you, it is.
- I don’t have the best posture
- My arms and neck ache as I type
- I tighten up when I get in the zone – leaving me heavy all over
And then my little boy (Kid Turndog) came along, and at first it was fine, but he did something all little boys do: HE GREW.
And in the summer of 2013 I found my back ached around the clock. When I held my son, it hurt. When I typed on my laptop, it hurt. When I relaxed in front of the TV, or reading a book… it hurt. So I did what all those approaching their 30th Birthday seem to do these days: I DID YOGA.
I FELT MY GROIN TEAR AWAY FROM THE BONE
I don’t wish to be sexist here, but Yoga is far easier for women. I’m usually the token guy in the class (the same when I go to Pilates or Yogalates or Thai Chi), but when there is another man, we seem to groan and flail simultaneously. To sum the flexibility of a man up in 5 words: FOUR WEEK OLD STALE BREAD
I went to my first Yoga class shortly before my 29th Birthday (in September 2013) completely oblivious as to what to expect. Excited and nervous, I dashed down to my local gym, changed into some shorts and a t-shirt, and settled down into a room of 20 women.
As one pitying look after another glossed over me (silently saying, “what have you got yourself into”), the teacher entered and sat on the floor in front of the room-spanning mirrors.
“Hello everybody,” she said. “We’re going to start with some relaxing stretches, so open your legs like this.”
Complying, I stretched out my legs into a V Shape and felt my groin tear away from the bone. At least, that’s what it felt like. As It turns out, it was my body’s way of saying, “Well, we haven’t done this for a while. You ready for pain?”
THE DOWNWARD DOG REMAINS AWAKWARD AND WEIRD
That first lesson was hard. In fact, the first few weeks were hard, but I was determined to give this Yoga lark a go. And although I didn’t think it was helping, and although I convinced myself I made no progress at all, it did help; and I did improve.
- My back stopped hurting
- My legs felt lighter
- My posture seemed to improve overnight
And all those crazy stretches became easier. To the point where my muscles didn’t hum after each attempt. Now, don’t get me wrong. I remain pretty inflexible and find MANY of the exercises near impossible, and the downward dog remains awkward and weird. But Yoga… and Pilates… and Yogalates… and Thai chi… have helped.
But here’s the thing: it’s had other unexpected benefits too.
REMOVING YOURSELF FROM REALITY DOES WONDERS TO YOUR STORY
Around the time I started Yoga, I was in full editing mode for TICK to the TOCK. Deadlines approached and each day held stress and worry, and although I’d walk to Yoga full of ideas and questions and heavy weighted thoughts, within a few minutes of stretching and twisting, my mind would melt away.
“There’s no way I’ll be able to settle today,” I’d say to myself, walking to the gym. “I’m too stressed and manic.”
But each time those crazy thoughts would disappear, and although I’d still think about my book or a story or an idea, it was tranquil and relaxing. Yoga gave my body and mind the escape it needed, and removing yourself from reality does wonders to your story.
- Those mental blocks clear
- Ideas flourish
- Characters reveal themselves
- Those impossible chapter edits suddenly make sense
Yoga isn’t a magical elixir, it’s a simple act of taking yourself away from the standard everyday, and placing your mind and body in a simple, peaceful, and worry-not situation.
WE ALL NEED TO ESCAPE OUR OWN REALITY
This doesn’t only apply to writing. I find Yoga eases my general everyday worries too, and some of the best ideas I’ve had in recent months (for books, projects, videos, articles, products, business ventures…) have come during or shortly after a Yoga session.
We all need to escape our own reality from time to time, because it becomes too intense. We’re too connected and involved in it, and all those ideas and projects blur into one another, and it becomes impossible to separate one from the other. Yoga might not be the escape you’re looking for, but but this post isn’t about Yoga.
DON’T LOSE YOURSELF TO YOUR OWN SELF
I’ve related this post to Storytelling, but it’s relevant to ideas and life in general. Whether you’re a writer or an entrepreneur or blogger or something else entirely, you’ll become so immersed in what you’re doing that everything blurs and strains. This is bad. This strangles your creativity and steals your sanity.
I started Yoga for the health benefits, but I’m not continuing for those reasons (although these reasons are still awesome and amazing). I’ll keep stretching and learning how to do a perfect downward dog because it helps me develop my own story, other stories, ideas, ventures, and everything else in my life.
At least, that’s the plan 🙂
And so it’s over to you to find your own escape. Just make sure whatever you do, you don’t lose yourself to your own self (TWEET THIS). It’s easy to do, and most of the time you can’t even tell you’re doing it.