Flow · Rachel

Greeting the Day

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One week into this practice of daily writing and yoga, I find myself wondering which one should come first.

There is the matter of logistics. Doing yoga before the kids wake up makes it easier—no one climbing on and around me!

The kids are used to me writing in my journal most mornings. It’s not like they see me writing and quietly tiptoe off to get their own whatever they need in that moment, but they no longer physically impede the process.

I do find that sun salutations ground me more immediately where as free-writing often leaves me with a lot of anxiety. I know it’s not supposed to. It’s supposed to clear your mind. Jot down everything that’s worrying you and then—magically—you won’t be worried anymore! After free-writing for a few pages I often feel a bit scattered and on edge, like I’ve started an awkward confrontational conversation with a friend and suddenly one of us has to go.

I suppose the order relates to the questions from my post last week about how Kajal and I (separately and together) think about this pairing of writing and yoga. Because writing is my focus, my default mode is to think of yoga as a tool for my writing. In simple terms, how can I use yoga to help me become a better writer? Yet even as I write this, I know there is something else that I get from yoga that doesn’t merely serve writing. It is not simply that I don’t want to privilege writing in the context of this collaborative project but that through yoga I find it easier to access an elevated awareness beyond language that has been more powerful at times than almost anything I have been able to access through language. There are moments in reading and in writing that approach that dimension, but they are rare. In yoga, that “place” feels like it is always available.

I am thinking very much in terms of ritual, both because I like the spiritual (for lack of a better word) dimension it helps to access and because I have been reading Cal Newport and Gretchen Rubin and David Allen and others who insist on the power of ritual when forming new habits.

Today I chose yoga first, which left little time for writing. While the sky was still dark I put on Deva Premal’s Aad Guray and did four sun salutations.

By mainly free-writing first thing in the morning, perhaps I am not properly channeling the insights to be gained from that fluid, dream-state. Why don’t I use that writing space to capture whatever traces remain from a subconscious state? Using yoga as a way to “greet the day” helps me pull back from an entrenched seventeen-year habit of just writing first thing whatever comes into my mind. Yoga feels like a portal to a space before language. It reminds me that daybreak is sacred.

—Rachel

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