I discovered Bindu Wiles and her 21 days of yoga and writing project on Twitter. We’ve never met, nor have we spoken, but I love writing. I love yoga and, for me, these two passions are so connected that I couldn’t resist participating.
It’s funny. I came to yoga about ten years ago, after a horse accident that cracked my sacrum. The horse, ironically named Achy Breaky, and I both were pretty green. I was working crazy 80-hour weeks trying to get SeniorNavigator (a resource for family caregivers and older adults) launched, so I was shy on sleep and way-shy on good judgment. Achy and I were cantering around and it felt too fast for me. My legs were loose and flapping all around. I was probably squeezing the reins like mad. I remember thinking to myself: after we get around the corner, I’ll bring him back to a trot. Well, we got around the corner and a guy came out from behind the tack room beside the ring with a fishing pole, heading down to the pond. Achy freaked out and I was on the ground wondering how I got there.
Horse people can act very macho, you know. I gave my body a quick scan. I hurt, but I could walk. So, I did the right thing and got back on Achy to finish the lesson. Did I say I did the right thing? Yes, I did the right thing for my ego. I rode through the rest of the lesson – jumping and cantering around. And, when the lesson ended and I dismounted, I knew I had done exactly the wrong thing for my body. I could hardly walk. I literally could not sit, so I worked for weeks lying on my stomach or my side in the bed, with my laptop. My physical-self changed dramatically from that day. I could no longer run without pain and found that I my back needed kindness and gentleness more than anything. (Self-care has never been a strength of mine.)
A few months later, I started doing yoga with Rodney Yee videos. I hoped yoga would build up my core and improve the strength in my upper and lower back. Really, I think I hoped yoga would let me get back to “normal.” Pushing myself too hard. Demanding more and more when sometimes, my body clearly needed less. Yoga has its way of taking care of all sorts of injuries and it has its way of seeping into all the nooks and crannies of a life. My yoga practice has definitely made me stronger in my core. But, in those nooks and crannies, yoga has filled me up with a greater capacity to be kind and gentle with myself, with my family, with the earth.
Still, it is called practice. Kindness and gentleness take practice. Self-care takes practice. My yoga practice has grown over the past decade from a body-oriented practice into one that is beginning to incorporate breath, meditation, and reading. Beginning. With horses and yoga and writing, I feel like I am always beginning, always practicing.
For the last few years, I’ve been drawn to linking my yoga and writing practices together. I think a lot of yogis and writers are beginning to practice and explore how yoga and writing complement each other. I am lucky to have worked with the poet and dancer, Cheryl Pallant. When I was writing the first draft of a middle grade novel (which is in production), Cheryl created yoga and dance meditations to help me attend to the playful voice of the main character. We explored how crisp, staccato revision-movement is different from wild, untethered first-imagining movement.
This year, I started working with with Richmond yoga teacher, Dana Walters. She recently put together a pretty amazing practice for me that evokes where I am in the process of writing of a historical fiction novel. With this story, what I think I need is endurance and a deeper awareness of how each chapter relates with the next and the next, all leading to this transformation, this change by the end. Dana’s practice frightened me in some places because I had to do new things like turn upside down, like really expose my heart. Practicing on the mat gave me the courage to practice reaching into those places on the page, too.
So, that’s why I love what Bindu Wiles is doing with 215800. For me, this is a challenge to attend to the nooks and crannies of body, mind, and spirit. 21 days to build a habit for a lifetime.