Friday, September 10, 2010

Stretch Your Body To Revive Your Writer Mind

I’ll say this as nicely as I can: writing is not a physically strenuous profession. You know it, I know it, and most others know it. That notwithstanding, writing can take a major toll on your body, thanks to sitting at a desk or balancing a laptop on your legs for hours on end.

Here’s were the relief part comes in: do yoga. Yep, yoga – the twisting, leaning, stretching stuff. At first glance, you may think that yoga has nothing to do with writing. How about a second look: most seated postures are awful for the body, putting strain on sensitive joints and cramping major muscle groups. Yoga helps you get up & moving, strengthening and releasing those muscles tendons, and joints.

Anyone can do yoga, and I mean anyone. No matter your age, sex, weight, religion, or overall physical condition. Here are a few yoga poses especially for us writers, tested on many occasions by yours truly. Give yourself a 5-minute break that you most certainly deserve and try them out – no equipment needed:

Eyes - Eye Warming: Sit up straight in your seat, feet flat on the floor. Rub the palms of your hands together vigorously to create heat for 10-15 seconds. Close your eyes and place your palms directly over your eyes and face (the palm-side of your knuckles should be over your eyes). Take 5-10 deep breaths with your eyes closed and hands in place.

Wrist – Wrist Rolls: Sitting up straight, reach both hands out in front of you, interlacing them together with palms touching. With elbows slightly bent, bend your wrists so that your hands move to the right (you should feel a stretch on the outside of your left wrist); holding for 10-15 seconds. Switch sides. Repeat on both sides 3 times.

Neck and Upper Back – Half Lord of the Fishes Pose (Modified): Sit up straight in the middle of your chair (your back should be 5-6 inches from the back of the chair), knees bent with feet flat on the floor. Exhale and twist your body to the right, placing your straight left arm on the outside of your right thigh & your right hand behind your butt. Inhale while looking to your right, shoulders down and relaxed. Exhale and turn your neck so you are looking behind you (or as far as your neck can turn). Make sure to keep your chin parallel with the floor, looking straight out. Hold this position for 5 long, deep breaths. Release, slowly returning to your original, forward-facing position. Repeat on your left side.

Lower Back and Butt – Standing Forward Bend (Modified): Stand up straight with your feet slightly wider than your hips. Exhale and bend forward from your hips (not your waist), leaning over as far as your can. Cross your arms so that your hands are holding the inside of your elbows. Release your neck and let your head hang down towards the floor. If you don’t feel the stretch in your back or butt, bend your knees just a little bit. Hold this stretch for 7-10 deep breaths. Release your arms, round your back, and roll up slowly to standing with your head being the last thing you lift up.

Take a deep breath, open your eyes, smile, sit down at your computer and let your fingers do the talking (if they can keep up).


As a writer who sits for long periods of time with a high focus on creativity, yoga helps revive your body and spark ideas. Yoga encourages you to focus on the present moment both mentally and physically, crumbling mental blocks and  loosening tension. Take the first step with 27 Things to Know About Yoga - a casual, easy-to-understand guide to the world of yoga; stretchy pants not required.

Victoria Klein is a freelance writer and yoga practitioner who also dabbles in photography, crafts, and running. 27 Things to Know About Yoga is her 1st book; her 2nd book, 48 Things to Know About Sustainable Living, will be released in late October 2010.

12 comments :

  1. Dani, thank you so much for being a part of my 1st Blog Book Tour! :)

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  2. I LOVE yoga! An excellent book on writing which incorporates yoga into the writing tips is called "Writing begins with the Breath" by Larraine Henning. Worth getting if you're a writer who likes yoga!!
    Judy

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  3. Victoria, is it okay to do a modified Half Lord of the Fishes with leg crossed? It seems to be more natural for me. What do you think?

    Thanks for stopping by! We need more posts like this - writing is not only solitary, it's hard on the muscles so any tips like this make the writing life easier.

    Dani

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  4. Whoa--do I ever need this! I've been wanting to try yoga for years--just about the same period of time I've been seeking ways to deal with the back and neck pain and migraines that result when I have too many big projects, too fast. I'm going to try these.

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  5. Thanks for that reminder. If you'd like to do a class everyday but can't get that far away from the computer, you can do online yoga. I joined the Yoga learning Center and really enjoyed it. Maybe I'll do that again. Thanks. http://www.yogalearningcenter.com/

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  6. Wow, great tip, Terri. That reminds me that I get a daily email from Ann Pfizer at about.com with a pose of the day. Also, for beginners, I like Peggy Cappy's DVDs - I think there's one called Yoga in Chairs that's particularly good for office workers and elderly types who need to ease in slowly. Victoria's book, I should add, is not so much about the poses themselves, but all the other info related like where to find studios, how to act when you get there, what kind of equipment, etc. It's sort of a travel guide into the yoga world and very easy to read.

    Dani

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  7. Thanks for the great tips on things to do for a few minutes at my desk. I do enjoy Yoga, but don't always want to get up, get my mat and do some patterns on the floor. This is a good way to get some stretching and relaxing in on a regular basis throughout the day.

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  8. This is great! I take yoga classes intermittently and I know it helps keep me flexible as I "mature" and keeps pain at bay.

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  9. Thank you all for your wonderful support & appreciation for my guest post! :) You've truly made my weekend better than I expected it could be.

    Dani, yes, you can do a modified Lord of the Fishes pose with your legs crossed - whatever seems the most comfortable for you. A key aspect is that your back is straight, so if you need to cross you legs to make the twist more doable with a straight back, go for it. :)

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  10. Wonderful, and very useful, information. Limbers the mind and body. Which helps when I have to place non-paying client in a half-nelson step over toe hold.

    Just kidding, I don't even know what that means. I send my vicious corgis out for the money.
    Jennifer "Madame" Perry
    Madame Perry's Salon
    Memoirs Of A Misanthrope

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  11. Amazingly and just this very morning, I was having a conversation with someone who was urging me to try yoga to help with bouts of lower back pain.

    Then, this post comes along.

    So, yoga it is!

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The Blood-Red Pencil is a blog focusing on editing and writing advice. Some of our contributors are editors, some are authors, and some are writing sheep. Yes, sheep.

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