I’ve been a writer my entire life. Ok, maybe not my ENTIRE life. There were those few years where I couldn’t form words and I just did a lot of crying and eating (no, not LAST year). But, I’ve been writing for a very long time. I’ve been doing yoga for a few years. I love both and I’ve noticed they have a lot in common and the thoughts and fears that surround the people that do them often look the same.
“Am I doing this right?”
“Is someone judging me?”
“Am I ever going to get any better?”
Writers and Yogis ask themselves a lot of the same questions and the things that stop someone from trying one often stops them from trying the other.
There seem to be two schools of people who don’t do Yoga: people who don’t do it because they think they have to be flexible right out of the gate so they don’t even try, or people who don’t do it but are convinced if they did they would be good at it because it’s just yoga. There are those people in writing, too. They think it’s too hard to even try or they think they’d be able to do it, no problem, if they just had the time to even try.
Well, both those people are wrong.
You don’t have to be flexible to do yoga but you do have to accept that it might take a little time to feel comfortable. You’re probably not going to be as good at writing as you think you are but that’s no reason not to try.
So, to ease the minds of both of these groups, I’ve compiled some lessons that I’ve learned from both writing and yoga that apply to people who do either, or both.
You Can Do It Anywhere
Because yoga isn’t just about fancy poses, it’s more about connecting with your breath and feeling balanced and centered, you can do it pretty much anywhere. Feeling stressed at work? Cross your legs at your desk, close your eyes, and take long, slow, deep breaths. Pay attention to how each breath feels, feel your chest expand and your stomach retract. Congratulations, you’re doing yoga. You don’t have to have the mat or the perfect space or complete quiet or incense burning…you don’t even have to be in a studio.
If you’re waiting for the right space to practice a little yoga, guess what? You’re in it.
The same is true for writing. So many people think you have to be in the right place at the right time with the right materials but the truth is, if you jot down an idea in your phone while you’re waiting in line at the coffee shop, you’re writing. If you wait for that cozy little spot or the perfect coffee place or no distractions, you’re never going to write.
For yoga and for writing, don’t let a little thing like geography get in your way.
You Might Not Notice Progress
I have bad news: You’re not going to be able to do the splits the first time you do yoga (or maybe ever) and you’re not going to write the great American Novel when you first sit down to write (or maybe ever).
In yoga, the poses aren’t the point. The point is understanding your limits and working with them to find what makes you feel your best and most productive. As you practice (both yoga and writing), especially if you’re just starting out, you might not notice any visible progress at first.
Even after a consistent routine, you might still struggle to touch your toes or it might still take you an hour to eek out 250 words. But maybe it’s a little easier to get on your mat every day. Maybe the right phrase came a little easier today than it did yesterday. It might be a microscopic bit of progress, and you might not even notice it, but it’s still progress.
But When You Do…
It’s so exciting. Because progress is so slow, when you do notice improvement or experience a breakthrough, it’s really freakin exciting. When you realize that you’re touching your toes when you haven’t been able to for a year, it’s a bit of a rush. When you realize you’re writing a story in a weekend when it used to take you a week, it’s pretty awesome.
In both yoga and writing it’s hard to track progress, but when you make a little, it’s totally worth the work it’s taken to get there.
You Don’t Have To Look Good Doing It
Ok, ignore all the perfectly coifed moms in their LuluLemons with their subtle yet shiny makeup and not a drop of sweat anywhere to be seen. Or the matchy outfits with the tiny sports bras and designer leggings. This is not how real people look doing yoga. Or, at least, it’s not how you need to look to do yoga.
Also, have you ever seen some of the images of women they use for writing courses? The thick glasses, the sexy yet messy hair…I hate those images.
I’ve got news for you. That’s not how writers look. At least, it’s not how I look when writing.
My point is, whether you’re doing yoga or writing, don’t look at the internet’s idea of how you should look. Wear your pajamas. Wear stuff that doesn’t match. Don’t wash your hair (it’s better for it anyway). Also, your Yoga poses aren’t going to look the same as everyone else. Do what works for you.
You Don’t Have To Be Perfect
You’re not going to be great at either one at first. In fact, you might not even be that good. Writers who have been doing it for a while cringe when they look back on their old stuff because when you first start out, you just aren’t that good. Perfect? Forget it.
I hate it to break it to you, but you’re probably never going to get perfect either.
In both Yoga and writing, there are constant lessons to be learned.
Both are about moving past your comfort zone to constantly improve and if you’re constantly improving there is absolutely no way to be perfect. Even the most experienced Yogis would scoff at the idea. And writers? You can barely get us to admit we’re good, let alone perfect. So if it’s not about being perfect, take some pressure off. Just write. Just breathe.
Let yourself enjoy the journey because the journey is the point, not the perfection.
So, if you’re letting a little thing like perfection stop you from trying yoga or writing, make like Elsa and just…well, you know the words.
If you’re a writer or a yogi struggling with fear or self-doubt, just take a sec to soak in these lessons, stop worrying about results, and just focus on your journey.