Creative Practice

Yoga Journal|May - June 2020

Creative Practice
How yoga and meditation help us overcome mental blocks, enhance focus, and awaken imagination.
By Andrea Rice and Lisette Cheresson

Here’s the fantasy: You step into your sacred workspace on a peaceful morning just before dawn, fully rested and ready for your uninterrupted date with the muse. You pick up your pen or paintbrush or guitar pick with optimism, and the words or lines or notes come rushing from your subconscious as creative inspiration flows through you like water.

The reality: If you’re lucky, you get a few good sentences down on the page, pick the colors that speak to you, or nail the first two measures of a new song. And then… nothing. Your smartphone pings, and you reach for it instinctively. Before you know it, you’re scrolling. The coffee you poured is cold. You’re hungry. Your cat is hungry. You should probably shower. Did you even brush your teeth yet?

The truth is, no matter how many times you start, stop, and start again, your creativity is never dependent on how much you produce in an hour, a day, or even a decade. Ingenuity and imagination are defining characteristics of the human experience. We are all creators, whether that creativity manifests traditionally as great works of art or discovery—or as quieter moments and expressions of imagination and inventiveness. We simply need to give ourselves permission to create and establish practices that help us find the time and the confidence to do so. Your yoga mat is a good place to start. Your practice will help you get out of your thinking, judging, procrastinating mind and into your body, where you can begin to move stuck energy and awaken the muse within.


Although creativity is often defined as a process that generates something novel and original, any creative endeavor requires us to cultivate a strong and sincere relationship with ourselves before we can begin to express any of that outwardly. According to psychologist Abraham Maslow, creativeness (his preferred term) is a necessary component of self-awareness and self-actualization. In The True Secret of Writing, author Natalie Goldberg writes, “underneath everything we long to know ourselves.” The ancient yogis say that’s precisely why we practice—to uncover the truths that lie beneath our judgments and fears.

Yoga gives us the discipline (tapas) we need to keep showing up, even when we’ve hit a roadblock; the opportunity to examine the obstacles that get in the way of knowing our true Self (svadhyaya, or self-study); and the ability to let things unfold as they are meant to (Ishvara pranidhana).


Nailing a Forearm Balance isn’t the most difficult element of a physical asana practice. No, it’s calming the so-called monkey mind and establishing a sense of contentment in Child’s Pose or surrender in Savasana. Navigating the emotional dis-ease and discomfort that may arise when you’re in a posture and coming into stillness can provide the foundation for finding repose and acceptance when struggling through the not-so- Instagrammable creative block.


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May - June 2020