Yoga for Writers

I’m the type of person who has a hard time sticking to any fitness routine for any length of time.

I am notorious for getting fitness videos to workout to in my living room. I’ve done Tae-bo with Billy Blanks and more recently the 30 Day Shred and Six Week Six Pack with Jillian Michaels. (Note that I did not stick with these long enough to either become shredded, or get a six pack) I enjoy them for a while but can’t seem to commit for much more than a few weeks.

I’ve tried the gym and it just isn’t for me. I can’t get past learning all the gym etiquette much less  muster up the motivation to make sense of all those machines. I’ve tried taking classes with the latest fitness trends: there was Jazzercise and Zumba … but I eventually grew too bored (or too broke) to keep up with them.

I’ve heard great things about Yoga and have wanted to try it for a while –  okay, years. As a person who works at desk all day, then comes home to write at a laptop, I thought I could benefit from some yoga.

Yoga lotus pose

Image courtesy of MeditationMusic.net

Yoga is known to strengthen and stretch the muscles and improve flexibility, improve blood circulation, counteract stress, and improve flexibility.

Whenever I am interested in learning more about something, one of the first things I do is read about it. So naturally I ran (drove – I do not run) to my local library and picked up a stack of books and DVDs on the subject.

NOTE: There are several different methods of Yoga, all which have different benefits – they’re not all about bending yourself up like a pretzel! My practice so far has consisted mostly of Hatha and Vinyasa Yoga.

After doing some initial research, I hopped onto YouTube and found Yoga with Adriene. Her beginner videos felt like just the right place to start. They were introductory in their style with helpful hints about focusing on breath, and connecting to the earth. Her Foundations of Yoga videos are a great way to get comfortable with various poses.

Then I found DoYogaWithMe.com – tons of completely FREE videos you can stream online! The videos are high quality and with so many to choose from you’re sure to find something that feels good for you. What’s so great about this site is that you can sort the videos by level and/or length and focus on your needs.

In last month or so, I have added yoga to my life slowly, anywhere from 2-5 times a week as my schedule allows. What I love about yoga is that I don’t need to rework my schedule to fit in a little bit each day. I can start by waking up 20 minutes earlier and doing some gentle yoga to start my day, or do a longer routine to unwind after work or before going to bed.

Just a week or so ago I woke up feeling tense and seriously achy. I did a twelve minute yoga routine for the neck and shoulders and felt so much better afterward!

If you are interested in yoga, here are a few tips for getting started.

Yoga Tips for Beginners

  • Begin by learning some of the  basics and vocabulary of yoga. If you jump right into doing yoga without understanding the language and poses, you may get a little hung-up. A few basic poses I learned before beginning were child’s pose, cat/cow, cobbler’s pose, and the well-known downward dog.
  • I am of the mindset, “try it before you buy it.” You may feel that you need to run out to get a mat, blocks and bolsters, buy DVDs and fancy yoga pants and workout gear. You don’t need to invest a ton of money to begin yoga. I have begun doing yoga completely free (and in my sweats.)
  • Be sure to start with routines like gentle yoga or yoga for beginners before moving on to more advanced routines and strenuous poses. Start with what feels good!
  • Once you are comfortable, check out your local gym to see what Yoga classes are offered that fit with your schedule. (Or, if you’re like me, don’t!)

Yoga Tips for Writers:

  • Visit DoYogaWithMe.com and be sure to check out the office yoga videos for short sessions focusing on the neck, back and shoulders.
  • When you’re feeling tense during the workday or during a long writing session, take a break to stretch for a few minutes every hour or so. Find a short yoga routine you can do in your office, or even right in your chair!
  • If you suffer from wrist pain from long hours at the keyboard like I do, check out the five minute stretching routine for the wrists and Yoga for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.

Finally, I feel I have found a routine I can commit to. Granted, I’m not exactly doing cardio with this practice and don’t expect to see me standing on my head anytime soon. But I have immensely enjoyed the stretching and relaxation that yoga has brought to my life.

I’d love to hear from you! Do you practice yoga? Do you want to start? Feel free to share your experience in the comments below.

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Weekend Writing and Why I Hate Mondays

As a writer with a day job, I have to make the time to write when I can.

I have found that mornings are great for writing, when I’m in that half-asleep daze, still connected to that subconscious dream-like state, the right side of my brain firing more than the left side. In the morning, I can get (some) writing done before my day begins. Writing in the morning is the best way for me to write every day.

But I’ve never been a morning person – especially in the winter. Especially during this particularly long, cruel winter – I have spent many mornings pulling the covers over my head to delay facing another day of snow and single-digit temperatures. Get Up

For these reasons, I haven’t been doing much morning-writing these past few months.

This is why weekends are when I get most of my writing done, particularly the Saturdays and Sundays in the dead of winter. Where summertime is filled with barbecues, bonfires and afternoons spent outdoors enjoying the sunshine and warmth, wintertime sees everyone disappear into hibernation for weeks at a time.

These quiet gray days are perfect for writing. For me, the weekend is when the world slows down. I can get lost in the world I’m creating and the characters I’m developing.

I typically have the house to myself as my husband works most weekends. So I can wake up on my own, read the newspaper and enjoy a cup or two of coffee, then fire up my laptop and start writing.

On a gray Saturday or Sunday, I lose track of time as the morning passes into afternoon. I am comfortable on the couch with the newspaper discards strewn around me, laptop in my lap, the keys clacking as I write or blog.  I am under a blanket and a cat is curled up beside me, another napping at my feet.

I will break from writing to gather and start the laundry, run the vacuum and unload the dishwasher, and get the weekend chores out of the way. But I always return to the laptop, a book or three and a notebook and pen within arm’s reach. For me, that’s a perfect way to spend a Sunday (and Saturday too, if I’m lucky!)

This is why Mondays can be so difficult. I often find myself in a Monday morning fog with that eerie feeling where you arrive at your destination but don’t remember getting there.  I go through the motions of turning on my computer and going about my tasks while my mind is still lingering over that last scene.

After spending two whole days with the freedom of going at my own pace, after two days of leisurely writing time, Monday means leaving my fictional world and returning to the Real World. It means a return to days with sleep interrupted by an alarm clock, coffee in a to-go mug, commuting and traffic and email and paperwork. It has nothing to do with the job itself and everything to do with its contrast to my writing life.

I can try to recreate my writing zone in the evening after the work day is done, squeezing in time between dinner and dishes and preparing for the next day, but I can’t get as easily lost in it as I do on the weekend. And so I must wait until the weekend comes around again.

So pardon me if I seem a little out of sorts on Mondays. You’ll have to excuse me for being a bit cranky and dazed on the first day of the work week. Though my feet are planted in this world, my head is still in another world entirely.

Do you dread or adore Mondays? Writers, how do you handle the transition from your writing world to your day job?


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This post was inspired by, Does Anyone Else Look Forward to Mondays? on the Live to Write, Write to Live Blog.