I’ll admit, I was a very left-brained “I’m just in it for the flexibility” yogini when I started. I’m still left-brained, but I’ve also learned enough of the science and seen enough evidence in practice to embrace the deeper aspects of yoga, including the idea of energy flowing through the body.
We see this all the time in life, though we often think of it as the mood of somebody else affecting us. I once had a coworker that somebody had dubbed the little black cloud of the room, and unlike Winnie the Pooh, his wasn’t held up by a balloon. The energy of the people around us can affect us in ways we don’t always fully realize. One of the things I like most about yoga is that I’ve learned how to change my own energy through my practice.
Some days we sit down to write and everything sags. It’s been a long day, our boss was a jerk, our family demands we pay attention to them even though we haven’t had a moment to ourselves all day, it’s raining outside and all we want to do is take a nap.
That’s when I break out the energizing poses, the Warrior variations (II is my favorite), the Sun Salutations, the heart-opening backbends.
Other days, we can’t sit still. Our monkey mind is in overdrive and we’re multitasking on Twitter and the phone and our brain’s bouncing all over the place. We can’t settle.
Skip those Warriors and other energizing poses — we need to center and calm. I’ll go to Mountain pose, building it from the ground up, or choose Child’s Pose, or even Legs up the Wall. Most nights before bed I practice Reclined Cobbler to quiet down my plot bunnies enough to sleep. (They have the exact opposite effect of sheep when you’re trying to sleep.)
Our lives are crazy, and even the best-planned days sometimes run off the rails. Those days, I reach for balance poses: Tree or Star for days I need to calm, Dancer or Warrior III when I need to kick it up a notch. By the time I’ve found the center I need to not wobble and topple into a pile, I can approach the rest of the day with equanimity.
We can enhance the energetic effects of our practice through breathwork as well, but that’s best practiced with an actual teacher if you don’t have any experience with it.
It doesn’t take much — just five or ten minutes can be enough to get us back on track and let us sit down at the keyboard and return to creating our fictional world.