How can you be more creative? That’s the million dollar question for creatives everywhere. It’s tempting to think that a person’s creativity is fixed and unchanging, but that simply isn’t true. Creativity ebbs and flows, comes and goes, halts and grows. And there are definitely things you can do to help build your creativity and boost your creative efforts. Today, we’re talking about how yoga and meditation can improve your creative work.
Yoga has been around since the dawn of civilization, but really started to become developed between 500 B.C. and 800 A.D. It didn’t reach the mainstream population of the United States, however, until much later, in the 1930s. Today, yoga is an extremely popular workout option, and niche yoga practices have developed, including prenatal/postnatal yoga, hot yoga, power yoga, and even goat yoga.
People do yoga for any number of reasons, but the most widely recognized benefits of yoga are:
- Improved balance
- Increased flexibility
- Relief from pain/arthritis
- Stress/anxiety management
- Improved mood
- Improved sleep
How yoga can improve your creative work
It’s easy to see the correlation between creativity and some of yoga’s most common benefits. Managing stress and anxiety can help boost positive creative energy, and good sleep is essential for every creative.
But there are other ways yoga can help improve your creative work.
Yoga unites mind, body, and spirit.
Yoga is more than just pose after pose. It’s partly a mindfulness practice. Practicing yoga correctly calms your mind and spirit, allowing you to access creative places that may have been blocked otherwise.
It also makes you aware of your body, bringing you into the present moment. Yoga can help free your mind from distraction, so there is room to pursue more creative thoughts.
Yoga helps you breathe.
Breath is a powerful tool. Yes, you breathe on your own, automatically, and that keeps you alive. But practiced, deliberate, slow breathing can help you thrive, not just survive.
Your breath can bring you into the present moment. It can calm stress and pull you out of a “fight or flight” position. It can help you concentrate on the task at hand. All of these are important when it comes to completing creative work.
Proper breathing is an essential part of yoga. Breathing in or out at the right times will help you get the most benefit from yoga. Any yoga instructor you take a class from should guide your breathing along with your movement.
Yoga helps relieve pain.
What does your physical body have to do with creativity? Quite a lot, actually. When you’re distracted by aches and pains, it’s difficult to get past that and access your creative side.
Not only that, but physical pain can sometimes hinder your ability to do your creative work. Writers, designers, artists, and musicians work with their hands; what happens if your hands or wrists are sore, shaky, or weak? People in creative work can put tremendous strain on their backs and necks as well, making it more important to support the body through exercise like yoga.
Yoga moves your body in different ways, which encourages your mind to think in different ways.
Divergent movement inspires divergent thinking. When you practice yoga, you move and stretch your body in new and unique ways. And what is creativity, if not thinking in new and unique ways?
This brings us back to that connection between body and mind. What’s happening in your body is mirrored by what happens in your mind. Allowing your body to stretch beyond its usual limits and experience something new essentially gives your mind permission to do the same.
How to practice yoga
Yoga has become so popular that it is virtually everywhere. My best recommendations for starting yoga are (1) if you frequent a gym, check to see if a yoga class is offered there, and (2) try YouTube. There are plenty of free yoga classes available to you. Beyond that, all you really need are comfortable clothes and an open space.
While arguably just as ancient as yoga, meditation has taken even longer to become adopted by Western Civilization. Still, it has become very common, and these days, most of us probably know someone who practices (and swears by) meditation.
Some of the widely recognized benefits of meditation are:
- Reduced stress and anxiety
- Greater self-awareness
- Increased attention span
- Decreased memory loss
- Addiction treatment
- Improved sleep
You might notice that a few of these benefits line up directly with the benefits of yoga. While yoga and meditation are different and can be practiced independently, they are often practiced together, as they both promote mindfulness and mind-body-spirit connection. And yoga and meditation both help improve your creative work.
How meditation can improve your creative work.
If yoga predominantly focuses on physical movement and the outer world, meditation focuses on your inner world: your thoughts and emotions. Here’s why that matters when it comes to creativity.
Mindfulness is part of yoga, but it is the whole point of meditation. Meditation is designed to bring you into the present moment. This can help pull you out of stress and allow your brain to engage in more balanced thoughts.
Mindfulness also allows you to become aware of your thoughts, without judging them. This is essential for creatives, who often reject their ideas because they think they’re not good enough. Learning to allow your ideas to come as they will allows your creative juices to flow more freely.
Meditation improves attention.
Let’s face it: creatives aren’t known for their hyper-focus and long attention spans. If anything, it’s usually the opposite. Many creatives are better at starting projects than finishing them.
Meditation can help. By improving your attention and focus, it can help you stay zeroed-in on what really matters. With heightened attention, you are more likely to be able to finish projects, attend to the details, and do your best creative work.
Meditation helps you get through hard times.
Regular meditation boosts your resilience and gives you a more positive outlook, which empowers you to overcome hurdles and hard times. This is key for nurturing creativity, since any creative process is going to involve a lot of failure.
If you’re able to leverage meditation to help you see failure for what it is (a learning process), then you are more likely to press forward even when it feels like you “failed.” That resiliency is going to benefit every creative endeavor you undertake.
How to practice meditation
I’ve actually written an entire blog post on how to start meditating, so I suggest you start there. Again, there are plenty of free resources that make meditation easy, even for beginners.
When used with intention and purpose, both yoga and meditation can be powerful tools for increasing your creativity and improving your creative work. Try them out and see for yourself.
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