Yogic Writing is a practice that utilizes the philosophies and disciplines of yoga, meditation, and journaling for writers of all levels to break through resistance, uncover memories, and find story nuggets buried within.
So, what does that mean, exactly?
First, a little background. The word ‘Yoga’ is derived from the Sanskrit root ‘Yuj’, meaning ‘to unite.’ The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, regarded as the authoritative text on yoga, outlines eight limbs which are meant to be practiced together to unite Individual Consciousness (Atman) with Universal Consciousness (Brahman). The aim of yoga is to move inward to find this unity between Atman and Brahman, which ultimately will lead you to a meaningful and purposeful life, aka BLISS.
Sounds good, right? But what does all of that have to do with writing?
Well, if you’re a writer, you know the bliss I’m talking about. When you are writing from a place that you can’t quite explain. When words just fall out of you and onto the page and you are merely a scribe, channeling something greater than you. THAT is the union we writers aspire to. That authentic flow from the mind, through the body, to the page. That is what I call Yogic Writing.
That authentic flow from the mind, through the body, to the page. That is what I call Yogic Writing.
Got it. But how do you practice Yogic Writing?
It starts by sharpening the awareness of your body, breath and mind, along with cultivating a witness consciousness to see what is beneath the surface, understand and break through resistance, so that you can ultimately write deep authentic life stories.
Sounds complex, but really, it’s not.
There is a concept in yogic philosophy, called Pancha Kosha, that speaks to this process. The term comes from the Sanskrit pancha, meaning “five,” and kosha meaning “sheath.”
Pancha Kosha is the concept in yogic philosophy that there are five layers, or sheaths, around the human soul. By taking a journey through these sheaths and uncovering our true nature, we work to find unity between Atman with Brahman (self and universe). When we write the stories we uncover on the journey, we connect more deeply to ourselves, each other, and the universe. We write our stories to know that we are not alone.
Pancha Kosha consists of:
- Annamaya kosha —the physical body sheath
- Pranamaya kosha —the breath sheath
- Manomaya kosha —the mind sheath
- Vijnanamaya kosha —the wisdom/intellect sheath
- Anandamaya kosha —the bliss sheath
By tuning in to each kosha, we awaken opportunities for self-exploration and creative growth, aka WRITE SOME REALLY GOOD STUFF.
So, how do you tune in to each Kosha to find the stories?
That’s the fun part! Read on!
The first thing you want to do before you sit down to write is get your body involved (the annamaya kosha). Just like any other sport or activity, a simple stretch or warm up is essential. Not only does it serve to loosen your shoulders, neck, and wrist thereby engaging your writing muscles before you dive in (whether it be on the computer or by hand—I strongly recommend by hand, by the way) it also tells your physical body to wake up and pay attention to what will follow.
Your body, believe it or not, remembers everything. Sounds, smells, touches, and tastes are held in your body, all the way down at the cellular level. Sometimes just a certain movement in an area, like a hip or heart opening pose, might bring up a memory that is stored there and comes flooding back in (like it or not). By working with the body through a yoga asana practice, we awaken the annamaya kosha, and discover the stories held there that we (hopefully) are ready to write.
The Pranamaya kosha represents our energetic body, or breath. There are breathing techniques that work to soothe and balance both sides of your brain, others that will energize you or clear old thoughts, as well practices that can calm and relax you when your writing is coming to a close.
A Yogic Writing practice often includes a mantra meditation to release energy that might be tied up in complex and obsessive thoughts. Guided meditations as well as working with mantras are used to clear space for creativity and allow authentic writing to emerge.
A silent meditation practice can deepen the Vijanamaya kosha (sense of awareness and wisdom). A mindful meditation practice can help you step back and view your writing from a different perspective, which is where insight comes from.
By tuning in to each of these four koshas through a Yogic Writing practice, you can get closer to experience the real magic, the fifth kosha (anandamaya kosha) better known as BLISS.
And when BLISS happens, hold on to your pen…. you’re in for a ride.