Category Archives: Writing

Yoga Break 4 Writers: Give Your Neck a Break

Leaning towards the computer screen, consistently looking down as we type on a laptop, and tensing up as we type can all cause neck pain. Here are some poses we can do right at our desk, frequently during the hour to keep our necks limber and reduce neck strain.

Deep, Calming Breathing

Still your mind and think only about your breathing. You want to stretch, awaken, and alleviate stress and the pain. Breathe in and out through your nose (not your mouth). Take a deep breath in: slowly fill the chest with air, imagining that you are pulling in joy, love, peace, and light. Deeply and completely exhale the breath: you will actually use your abdominal muscles to push the breath out, imagining that you are expelling all toxins, stress, and tension. Keep taking those breaths until you feel yourself relax.

Neck Rolls

After about three to five minutes, add head movements to your breathing:

When you inhale, lift your face to the ceiling, and when you are ready to exhale, slowly put your chin to chest. Do this movement 3 times each way for a total of 6. Don’t rush.

 

On your last exhale, with your chin to your chest,  roll your head around until your right ear is above your red shoulders (make sure your shoulders are down and not hunched up near your ear). You will feel a stretch in your neck and as your neck is stretching, extend your left hand out to your side with your fingers tinted on the mat. Take a couple of deep breaths, and then roll your head to the left side, so that your left ear is over your left shoulder. Note: As you roll your head from side to side, roll it in the front of your body with your chin to your chest. This movement is an exhale. You can alternate back and forth from each side.

When you are ready, do an entire slow neck roll, matching your breathing to your movement. Inhale when your face and head are up and exhale when your face and head are down.

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Yoga Break 4 Writers: Get Energized Right at Your Computer

I’ve been here writing for a while now. The last time I got up and moved around was three hours ago. I know…not good. I need to wake up and get some energy, but I don’t want to get fidgety. Here are some exercises that I do to awaken the muscles in my spine and get blood flowing through my body.

 Position #1 is a simple, seated Twist: Plant your feet on the floor. Sit up straight, lengthening your spine and opening your chest.100_2801 Put your left hand on your right knee. Inhale, lifting your chest and rib cage, while your right hand holds on to the back of your chair, exhale as you turn to the right as far as you can and attempt to look over your right shoulder. Keep your shoulders down and back. You want to remain erect. Remember to breath. Do the same thing on the other side. Not only does this move help your shoulders, but it also massages your internal organs, helping digestion, and it massages and stretches your spine. With each exhale, deepen the twist.

Position #2: Put your hands in prayer position at heart level. Inhale through your nose and raise your arms above your head, lifting your face to the ceiling. Open your arms wide to the ceiling, effectively pressing your chest and rib cage out. Press your palms back into prayer position, exhale through your nose, and bring your palms back down to heart level with your chin to your chest. This is an energizing move. The speed is dictated by your breath. When your face is up towards the ceiling or in motion towards the ceiling, Inhale. When your face is in a down motion or your chin is to your chest, Exhale. Repeat this motion up to ten times, inhaling through your nose when your face is to the ceiling and exhaling through your nose when your chin is to your chest.

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 Position #3 is a Sun Salutation series: You can do Sun Salutations on your knees or standing. The important thing is to match your breathing to each position. A previous post has specific instructions for each pose.

Yoga Break for Writers: 6 Easy Stretches to Relieve Overworked Arms

Writers produce by sitting at a desk all day, writing, reading, squinting, and leaning our neck towards the screen. Sitting all day like this can give us tight hips, tense shoulders, and neck irritation. Here are some Yoga poses that I do at my desk to loosen and stretch myself. If you do these poses about once an hour or once every two-to-three hours, you’ll find that your body is not so tense and stiff, which enables you to sit longer and write more.

Anyone who sits at a desk all day performing repetitive motions with their arms can do these easy exercises.

 Relieve Overworked Arms

Position #1: Sit at the edge of your chair, lift your arms over your head, effectively stretching the inside100_2792 of the shoulder. Clasp your fingers together, lift your arms straight up. Keep your shoulders down and back. Lift up out of your waist. Engage your abdominal muscles by pulling your belly button in towards your spine. Extend through the palms, and deepen your breath. Remain in this pose breathing deeply for at least five slow, deep breaths. Slowly release and put hands back on knees.

Position #2: Sit at the edge of your chair, stretch your arms out in front of you parallel to the floor. They should be at shoulder100_2794 level. Put your right hand on your left shoulder. Using your left hand, press the right elbow. This  movement stretches the top of the shoulders. Don’t push the arm into your face. Keep arms level with shoulder. Keep back straight and sit erect, but not stiff. Release slowly.

Position #3: Push back from the desk, but remain seated near the edge of your chair. Open legs wide with your feet planted on the100_2795 floor. Take a deep breath and exhale, hinge at the hips, placing your palms or fingertips on the floor. Keep your head a long extension of your spine. Breathe deeply.

Sit straight up, shoulders down and back, chest out & open, with hands on each knee, and breathe deeply.

Position #4:  Turn towards your desk. Straighten your arms and lay your palms on the top of the desk.100_2798 Push your chair out, but stay seated in it. Legs are wide apart, feet on the floor. Your head will be slightly lower than your shoulders. Shoulders are extended. Back is not arched or curved, keep it straight, long, and lean. This movement stretches out your stiff spine. You are also opening the hips and shoulders.

Position #5: Move your chair out of the way. Put your hands on top of the desk. Stand back and do the same movement as100_2799 Position 4, but this time you are standing. Hinge at the hips, stick your tailbone out, and your stance is the width of your hips. Spread your fingers out wide. Deepen your breathing. You’ll feel a stretch in your armpits and shoulders, similar to when you are in downward facing dog.

Position #6: Sitting in your chair, bend your arms so that your hands are in front of you. Close your arms with the elbows and100_2800 palms toward each other. Cross your right arm over your left arm, and put your left hand in your right hand. Take a couple of deep breaths and relax into the pose. Don’t force it. You should feel a good stretch in your shoulders. Take deep, slow breaths. You will feel a good stretch between the shoulder blades. Breathe. Pull the elbows down. Now start over, but this time cross your left arm over your right arm. This move is called seated Eagle.

*Disclaimer: As with any exercise regimen, consult your doctor or physician before you start. The Leisure Living Blog, its contributors, or listed resources are not responsible for any injuries.

© 2009 KaTrina Love
www.leisurelivingblog.com

Applying Yoga to Daily Living

Tree Pose

As a professional writer, my goal is to write compelling, pertinent content, that inspires, informs, and captures the interest and emotions of my readers, but when I am stressed or distracted, I fail to pen the prose that helps my readers, which stresses me out more.  The worst thing for a writer is to be unable to write or to be able to write, yet be unable to focus and pull enough concentration to write useful, effective content. The result is decreased confidence and productivity. Lately, when I sit down to write there are often so many ideas, words, situations, and problems assaulting my mind that I cannot concentrate or focus. The problems and responsibilities of the day descend upon me at the very moment that I sit down, still my mind, and conjure my creativity and innovation to write. All of that chatter, noise, and chaos shows up in my writing, and I end up being unable to use it.

In Yoga, when we perform balancing poses there is so much to think about as we attempt the pose: are our feet straight ahead, toes spread, weight evenly distributed on the foot, are our hips squared, shoulders down, tail bone tucked in, chest lifted, arms, legs, and neck in proper position, if I straighten will I lose the balance. But Yoga teaches us to harness those thoughts into one fluid motion so that our only concern is where we are in the moment, thoughts on nothing but the pose and breathing. That is the main purpose of the balancing poses, to make us focus, be present in the moment, and to control our thoughts.

One day after a very successful practice with balancing poses, I thought, what if I could bottle up this focus & concentration that I get from Yoga and let it loose while I write. And then I realized later on, as I sat in front of my computer rewriting, that I can apply that discipline to writing and other projects too. If I grab one idea, word, thought, or a single character, I can streamline my thoughts and channel them to one pertinent space.

It helped! Now, I can concentrate on one character at a time and make each scene applicable to one character, even if there are multiple characters involved. For my creative non-fiction, I take one phrase, word, or scripture, and I narrow my thoughts to one entity. If thoughts of other items arrive, I invoke  the discipline that Yoga teaches me. I simply bring my focus back to my breathing and that one item I am nurturing, which helps me to avoid distraction and continue to completion with my original thought.

 There are so many things that I learn in Yoga that I can apply to a multitude of areas in my life. I’m more disciplined, in tune, and aware. I’m learning to integrate the principles of my Yoga practice into my everyday life. And it is helping tremendously.

Namaste & Happy Writing
Trina

*Disclaimer: As with any exercise regimen, consult your doctor or physician before you start. The Leisure Living Blog, its contributors, or listed resources are not responsible for any injuries.

© 2009 KaTrina Love Abram

Writing and Yoga

author03Writing and Yoga

It takes courage, discipline, and perseverance to write. As I write, there is a duplicitous, imaginary critic peering over my shoulder chastising me for using the wrong grammar, not rewriting immediately, and any number of other things. We are encouraged to block out that inner critic, but to no avail. That inner critic hates that I stifle it and summon it whimsically.

Yesterday, I read an article by  Jen Grisanti entitled Writing and Yoga. When I first read this article I was floored because I am a Yoga fanatic. After I thought about it, since I’ve been practicing and teaching Yoga, I haven’t fought with my inner critic. I don’t beat the critic away with a stick to concentrate. That critic is tucked away until I summon it. And I cannot pinpoint the day that I took control over my inner critic instead of my inner critic controlling me, but I know that Yoga was an accomplice.

Tree Pose

Yoga helps me in so many ways that I cannot list them all. Yoga and writing go hand-in-hand. When I practice Yoga, I focus, concentrate, and center. Yoga is a mental exercise in self and body awareness and balance. Through breathing (prayana), the body and mind connect, and this state-of-mind does not go away after my practice is complete. Sun Salutations stimulate and warm the body (among other things) and balancing poses, such as Eagle, Warrior III, and Tree Poses, help you to balance, focus, and be in the moment. Balance is very important in Yoga. For every pose (asana) there is a counter pose. If you do something on the right, you must do it on the left too. Focusing and balancing help me to grab one thought at a time, deal with it, and move on to the next thought. I reach inside of myself and literally pull my creativity out, mentally, as I am meditating after Yoga.

So when I sit down to write, my creativity is stimulated, alive, and vibrant,100_2534 (2) coaxing confidence. I can focus on one thought at a time, I’m peaceful and calm, and my mind is lucid. I accept where I am at the moment and embrace my limitations. I am patient with myself. This focusing, balance, acceptance, and patience blankets me as I sit at my keyboard and escape into my plot, allowing my characters to live and breath through my fingers.

If you are a writer, embracing Yoga can enhance your  creativity and writing as well as your mental, physical, and emotional dexterity. I would love a Yoga/Writer retreat.

Namaste & Happy Writing,
Trina

© 2009 KaTrina Love Abram

Writing and Yoga

author03When I first read this article I was floored because I am an avid writer and fanatic yogi. Yoga helps me in so many ways that it’s hard to list them all. Yoga and writing go hand-in-hand. While I’m doing my Yoga practice, I am focusing, concentrating, and centering, and this state-of-mind does not go away after my practice is complete. So when I sit down to write, my thoughts are clear, I can focus on one thought at a time, and I’m peaceful and calm. If you are a writer, embracing Yoga can only enhance your  creativity and writing. I’m going to be looking for a Yoga/Writer retreat. Jen, the author of the following article, had one last weekend.

Writing and Yoga

By Jen Grisanti

Do these two practices mix? I believe that they do. As a Career Strategist for Writers and a Story Consultant, my belief is that the stronger you are inside and the more access you have to your story, the stronger you are on the page. Writers who do the emotional and spiritual work are often stronger in their creative endeavors. Of course, there is a stereotype that the best writers have addictions to drugs and alcohol. After 17 years of working in the entertainment business, I have found the opposite to be true. The writers I enjoyed working with the most and who showed the strongest talent on the page lived normal lives and were committed to having healthy lifestyles. Writing takes courage. Clarity is an important ingredient in being able to feel free to express yourself. If you do theexercise emotional work that is needed to process the events in your life, expression becomes more accessible and strengthens your value on the page.

What is the best way to gain clarity? Yoga is one way to do this work. Doing yoga allows you to go inside yourself and be an observer of your emotions. Just as with writing, with yoga you have your days when you’re completely on and feel like you can do anything and you have your days when your balance is all off. It reflects what life is. The beauty of yoga is that the more that you do it, the better you get. This is the same with writing. The more scripts you write, the deeper you go with your craft. As you become more self aware, your confidence grows and your connection to your emotions surfaces, giving you more to draw from in your writing.

SidePlankIn one of my favorite movies, The Lives of Others, they explore the idea of loyalty in depth. Do we owe more loyalty to our significant other or to ourself? Is our love for what we do more important than the love we feel for each other? Another movie that goes to powerful emotional levels is Frost/Nixon. The film questions how we can recover when we’ve fallen from the pedestal. How do you get success back? I applaud both movies for not just exploring the surface of life but for fleshing out and dissecting the choices that we make and the repercussions that follow. It is the willingness to explore story without fear that truly connects the audience.

I encourage writers to do yoga or any other routine that gives them the time and the means to connect with their self.

As a way to support her belief, Jen had her first Writer/Yoga Retreat and one day Storywise Seminar in Oahu August 18th – 23. Although the dates passed, you can still check out her podcasts and interviews with authors at the site http://www.jengrisanticonsultancy.com, and look under Events and Seminars.

8 Basics of Creative Writing

 
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KurtVonnegutKurt Vonnegut created some of the most outrageously memorable novels of our time, such as Cat’s Cradle, Breakfast Of Champions, and Slaughterhouse Five. His work is a mesh of contradictions: both science fiction and literary, dark and funny, classic and counter-culture, warm-blooded and very cool. And it’s all completely unique.

With his customary wisdom and wit, Vonnegut put forth 8 basics of what he calls Creative Writing 101: *

  1. Use the time of a total stranger in such a way that he or she will not feel the time was wasted.
  2. Give the reader at least one character he or she can root for.
  3. Every character should want something, even if it is only a glass of water.
  4. Every sentence must do one of two things—reveal character or advance the action.
  5. Start as close to the end as possible.
  6. Be a sadist. No matter how sweet and innocent your leading characters, make awful things happen to them—in order that the reader may see what they are made of.
  7. Write to please just one person. If you open a window and make love to the world, so to speak, your story will get pneumonia.
  8. Give your readers as much information as possible as soon as possible. To heck with suspense. Readers should have such complete understanding of what is going on, where and why, that they could finish the story themselves, should cockroaches eat the last few pages.

The greatest American short story writer of my generation was Flannery O’Connor (1925-1964). She broke practically every one of my rules but the first. Great writers tend to do that.

* From the preface to Vonnegut’s short story collection Bagombo Snuff Box

From http://www.writingclasses.com