By Emma Simpson
Whether downward facing dog is a part of your daily routine, or you are akin to a bit of furious thumbing through your Instagram feed, there’s no way that yoga and the practise’s myriad of health benefits will have escaped you. It’s trendy. It’s readily available. And the physical and mental benefits are backed by science.
But even if the term ‘yogi’ makes you want to crawl into a fetal ball and hide, there’s another practice that is equally beneficial to your mental health–and you don’t need to move a muscle (okay, maybe a limb or two). This, my friends, is writing. And although those pen strokes won’t give you a selfie-worthy six-pack, the positive impacts that stem from putting your thoughts on paper can be likened to yoga itself. Let’s take a look at why:
Both Allow for Stress and Anxiety Relief
Although each yoga discipline has its own characteristics and flavour, there are fundamental benefits that are common across the board; most notably the stress and anxiety relief that comes from the ‘mind-body’ connection. The blend of breathing control, meditation, and physical poses can lower blood pressure and heart rate and the mindfulness of the practice itself can bring some serious solace to an anxious mind.
Writing is a process that engages the mind in a similar fashion. Picking up your pen and purging that continuous running commentary onto paper is, at its core, a release. A release that can ignite a fire of creativity, make sense of those ‘thought snowballs,’ and give a voice to the unarticulated parts of who we are. In the same way that tight muscles relax and respond to movement, articulating the tension and stressors that our mind harbours onto paper can create clarity and, above all, calm.
Welcome to Introspection
“The examination or observation of one’s own mental and emotional processes” ~ English Oxford Dictionary
One of the fundamental elements of yoga is meditation, which is a process of focusing and training the mind to both accept and redirect your thoughts. It is developing self-awareness in its rawest form. It’s introspection. And it can be a hell of a challenge. You don’t need to sit cross-legged in a silent room and a therapeutic voice ringing through your skull to successfully meditate. Writing is its own divine form of meditation. Allowing your pen to expel what is harboured upstairs can feel fluid or frustratingly disjointed. It can invoke divine nostalgia, excitement, or take us to places of ultimate darkness and discomfort. And all of that aids in developing a deeper awareness and understanding of who we are–a true investment in our mental and emotional health.
It’s About the Process
Ask any self-confessed yogi and they will tell you that the best part of yoga is, well, all of it. There’s not a requisite amount of calories that need to be burned nor is there a mutual destination that needs to be reached in order to be successful. And it’s the same with the writing that you do purely for yourself. Pounding out 1,000 words in an hour for a copywriting client is not the writing we are talking about here. There is no measure of success for the state of vulnerability and honesty that comes with pouring your true self on to paper. It’s a process of transparency to the harshest critic of all–yourself.
So I challenge you, to get your creative juices going, pick up your biro and unleash. Give that brain of yours the workout and release it deserves–that YOU deserve.