Friday, October 25, 2013

What does YOGA have to do with ART?!

A year ago, I enrolled in a nine month Teacher Training program at Green Lotus Yoga Studio with my teacher Lona Kovacs.  I did this, not with the ambition of becoming a yoga teacher, but rather to deepen my Ashtanga practice, develop a routine and integrate the principals of yoga and mindfulness into my life both on and off the mat.  

When I first learned I was expected to practice 6 days a week, in the studio, I'll admit, I almost bolted.  I didn't think I could devote that much time, considering how much of my day I spend in my studio making art, in addition to my teaching.  After I realized that I could, if I really believed it was important enough, I took a deep breath and made the commitment.  

So over the last year, I have developed a full primary series practice which takes about 90 minutes of my day, 6 day a week, finding it's best when I practice early in the morning.  Still, every day I conjure up a plethora of reasons why I should skip yoga and a multitude of excuses why I can't possibly fit it in.  Often, this brain game goes on just after the alarm goes off at 5am while lying in my nice warm bed.  I get up.  I do it anyway.  And I've never been sorry for having gotten on my mat.  In fact it doesn't TAKE 90 minutes, but rather it GIVES me more energy.  I feel better in my body and more mindful throughout my day. 

OK, so what does YOGA have to do with ART?!  That is the title of this blog post isn't it?!  

Over the last year I have often thought about the many parallels between yoga and art...

Each is a discipline.  Each is hard.  You have to make yourself do it. You feel like crap when you're not doing it regularly and you feel great when you are regularly.   

Both are better when done frequently, daily if possible to keep a flow going. Muscles tighten and weaken both creatively and in the body when too much time has lapsed.  Practice and all is coming. -Pattabhi Jois

Both on the mat and in the studio we are at our best when we are fully present, losing ourselves in the act of doing and being.

The yoga mat and the art studio are alike in that they are the both the spaces, the four "walls", that contain our experience, our struggles, our exploration and our discovery.  Here, we as yogis and artists find our strengths, confront our challenges and are quite often humbled through the process.   

We stretch ourselves, on the mat physically and often mentally by overcoming fear, perhaps fear of doing a head stand or dropping into a back bend.  In the studio we stretch ourselves be authentic, to be creative, to work outside of our comfort zone and make something where there was once nothing, always facing the fear of our work being rejected.   

I venture to say that with both it is the little triumphs that propel us forward.  Whether it's touching your fingertips to the floor, binding your hands behind your back or mastering a new material or technique that once seemed incomprehensible.

Both offer community... sweating side by side in the yoga shala, chanting together and offering a namaste when the class has ended, meeting with an artist group to offer support, critique one another's work, organize an exhibit or share a glass of wine at an opening. With both we are with our tribe, our people, they get it and they get you.      

Much thanks to my husband Christos, 
not only for taking the pictures but for being my yoga buddy,
and to Lona for being my teacher!