Creativity, Yoga, and You
Have you been stunned by the beauty of artistic creativity? On our recent trip to the midwest, we visited the Art Institute of Chicago. Renoir’s “Two Sisters (On the Terrace)” never fails to touch my heart and soul.
Let’s talk about creativity and yoga in this post. And by talk, I mean, I’d love to hear your input!
Creativity does not only mean artistic acumen or talent. ALL of us possess creativity. Creative thinking and inspiration are like recipes-you take what already exists and make something new. Mash it up. See what emerges.
Or change what you’ve been doing again and again and try something different.
A new walking route? A different approach to your business problem? Challenge your brain and shake up habits. All are acts of creativity! Open your mind to the fact that creativity indeed includes the arts, but is not limited to the arts.
Yoga can definitely help us remove limiting barriers and get those creative juices flowing. Because not surprisingly, a major creativity inhibitor is: stress.
Misconceptions about the nature of creativity abound. Scores of definitions continue to exist in the professional literature. My favorite has always been Mel Rhodes classic definition.
Rhodes endeavored to develop a single definition of creativity. He examined a variety of frameworks in the literature. In Rhodes model, creativity consists of 4p’s : (Rhodes, M. 1961. An Analysis of Creativity. Phi Delta Kappa, 42: 305-310.)
Person: What do you as an individual bring to the creative process? This can include your attitude, values, personal history. For example, if you define yourself as “not creative”; or if you have sad memories of being ostracized for being creative, then your creative impulse may need to be renurtured.
Process: Tools, techniques, exercises, and mind states to motivate, encourage, and facilitate the emergence of meaningful new ideas and/or solutions. The creative process can be NURTURED! Examples: Collaborative creativity, free flow writing/drawing, brainstorming, meditation (more on that soon; keep reading.)
Product: A tangible outcome that is useful or unique in some way. This could range from a product or idea utilized by a single individual, or many people. 21st century technology such as cell phones are examples of creative products.
Press: By press, Rhodes meant the environment where creativity occurs; or is inhibited. Does your work, home, cultural environment enhance creativity? Is there encouragement or resources to be creative? Or does someone at work or home shoot down innovation?
Creative thinking can be enhanced or stifled by the attitudes and interactions among the people who surround us, as well as the availability of resources such as time, other people, and money.
Yoga, Meditation, Creative Thinking
Yoga contributes to the emergence of creativity from a seed or even dormant, stultified state to an open creative consciousness about everything we do. A creative attitude helps us view life from all the angles from a new, accepting, non-judgmental place. (And by the way, if the version of down dog depicted is not for you, check out this post for alternatives. Mash it up!)
If we’re relaxed, open and mindful, our best creative thinking is more likely to occur. This sometimes happens in the shower…driving…first thing in the morning. But if we’re blocked and stressed, then yoga and especially the practice of meditation can help bring us back to that more open creative consciousness-which is our birthright.
Recently, researchers have shown that that creativity improves as a result of various forms of Open Monitoring meditation (e.g. Mindfulness). Many types of meditation are associated with mood improvements and relaxed cognitive states, factors associated with increased creativity. (Colzato, L. S., Ozturk, A., & Hommel, B. (2012). Meditate to Create: The Impact of Focused-Attention and Open-Monitoring Training on Convergent and Divergent Thinking. Frontiers in Psychology, 3, 116. http://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2012.00116)
Reconnect to your Creative Source with Yoga
When I teach or write, a yoga practice (such as asana, pranayama, and meditation) helps me arrive into the present. I am much more able to listen…to be aware…to be playful.
But especially not judge myself.
As we already know, many adults lose touch with their creative source; in some cases they’ve been chastised, even traumatized for their creative ideas. The self-acceptance that comes in part from yoga seems to act as a bridge to the process of creation.
I first wrote and taught about creativity and yoga ten years ago inspired by my faculty sabbatical. At that time I received this beautiful comment from Lori:
“I really do find that yoga can bring to the surface our creative conciousness…Doing yoga I find that at times when there is blockage I can find the space to pause and feel around in my subconscious and gently pull that creative part of me back out to the light of day. Alternately, creativity will often fuel my yoga practise in physical terms of asana development.” Lori
Come to yoga class and set your mind free.
Like this topic? Please comment below. I have more to say if you’re interested!
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