This has been the year of trying new things and this past week that meant starting yoga class at the gym in my office building. As I attempted various creatively-named poses that required me to contort my limbs into positions they most definitely did not want to go, I couldn’t help but notice some parallels to writing.
What’s going on?
While the lights turned down low, the music quietly playing in the background, and the pleasant voice of the instructor were very restful, I spent a lot of that first class looking around at the other students trying to figure out exactly what I was supposed to be doing. I’d heard of downward facing dog and child’s pose, so I got those okay, but pigeon pose? Happy baby? What the heck? I felt like I should have read through Yoga for Dummies before class. Very similar to the way I felt when I first started writing and people would ask who’s your protagonist? What’s the main conflict? Are you writing in first person or third?
There’s no comparison
My instructor is strong and amazingly flexible (really – I don’t think legs are supposed to bend that way). She fluidly moves from cobra-pose to plank and then downward facing dog as if it is the simplest thing in the world. I, on the other hand, currently transition with all of the grace of a drunken bear with a Charlie-horse and just hope the lights are low enough that no one notices. While intellectually I know that it takes practice to acquire new skills and that the instructor and all the other students were beginners too at one point in time, it’s a little disheartening to see just how wide the gap is. It’s a lot like the feeling I get when I read a book by one of my favourite authors and then go back to working on my own projects. On the positive side, after two weeks of classes, I can already see some yoga improvement, like after years of writing practice, I can see improvement there as well. I just have to remember to be careful when comparing myself to others. Although it’s nice to have a level of skill to aspire to, we’re all on our own journey and moving at our own pace. Comparisons are likely to serve no real purpose other than to take the fun out of things.
Focus, focus, focus
The beginning minutes of the yoga classes are a time of focusing on our breathing and movements so that we’re centred and present, not distracted and thinking of the thousand and one things that are waiting on the to-do list back in the office. As I talked about in my One Minute Meditation post here, I find that to be equally important in writing. Trying to write when you’re busy thinking about bills that need to be paid or what to make for dinner makes it a challenge to really get into the story. Taking the beginning minutes of a writing session to turn off distractions and focus on what you’re about to do can help turn whatever writing time you have into productive time. Although we all seem to spend a regrettable amount of time multitasking, sometimes focusing on one thing at a time is the most rewarding answer.
So tomorrow it’s back to yoga class for me. Now that I have an idea what the poses are, maybe I can make some progress on transitioning between them. Because whether it’s yoga or writing, no one likes a jarring transition. You can really hurt yourself that way.
In the meantime, since learning a new skill is hard work, I think a reward, in the form of a little Dark Chocolate Guinness Cake with Baileys Cream Cheese Icing is in order. If you are a chocolate cake fan, I recommend giving it a try. It’s delicious and reminds me of the Guinness Cake I had not that long ago at the Queen of Tarts cafe in Dublin. Here’s a random testimonial, if you don’t want to take my word for it 🙂
“This cake is rich. I mean Roarke-level rich. This cake is so rich that it gets up in the morning and buys large countries or maybe small planets, just to have something to do with its pocket change.” ~ Guy on Facebook
So, what have you learned lately (or what skills have you been polishing)?