I have spent every spare moment for the last year and a half writing my first yoga mystery, Murder Strikes a Pose. My husband and dog can both attest to my writing obsession, as well as the sacrifices they made so I could pursue it.
I offered my novel to the universe last Tuesday. To be more specific, I e-mailed it to several prospective agents. As I hit the SEND button, I was struck by the parallels between writing and yoga. Both have been inexorable parts of my life this last year. My personal yoga practice kept me balanced and opened my mind to creativity. Teaching yoga kept me grounded in what was truly important. Writing allowed my mind and imagination to fly free.
According to sutra 1.12, yoga helps us overcome the limitations of our minds and the frailties of our conditioning, but only if we commit to it as a “persevering practice.” Persevering practice occurs:
- Over a long period of time
- Without interruption
- With dedication and enthusiasm
- Without attachment to results.
If you’re like me, your yoga practice ebbs and flows. Sometimes it’s part of your daily routine; sometimes it falls off the radar for weeks at a time. Sometimes you leap onto your mat with the joy of a child holding a bright green lollipop; other times you drag yourself there like a fifty-year-old en route to her first colonoscopy. And that whole idea of not being attached to the results? Well, good luck with that.
But as usual, the sutras offer wisdom, for both yogis and writers. Put simply, the ancient teachings are right.
Asana done once a month or even once a week gives anemic results, and the benefits of daily practice quickly dissipate when discontinued. Without dedication, yoga practice becomes nothing more than exercise, and not very effective exercise at that. On the other hand, if we hold preconceived attachments to the results of our practice, we simply give up.
Writing offers many parallels. I wrote the first two chapters of my book over three years ago, then let it sit for almost two years. Until I worked on it daily for over a year, I made no progress. And on the days I lacked dedication and enthusiasm, my words were no more than crumpled pages at the bottom of my recycle bin.
As for attachment to results, well, I have to let that go, or I’ll never make it past my first rejection, sure to come any day now. Any writer attached to success lasts about three minutes before laughing maniacally, tossing her computer out the window, and popping popcorn over the manuscript burning in her fireplace.
So why continue? I practice both yoga and writing because word by word, pose by pose, both offer unexpected gifts: flashes of self-understanding, moments of quiet calm, a connection to laughter and joy in this sometimes challenging life. These small gifts make all the rest worth it.
Like many of my students, my yoga and writing practices both wax and wane, and my larger goals often seem unattainable. I’m more likely to become a bestselling author than attain enlightenment in this lifetime, and neither is very darned likely. But the simple act of practicing serves me, nonetheless.
So if you need me, I’ll be teaching at the studio or typing at my keyboard—persevering.
Come visit Whole Life Yoga in Seattle!