The Floor is a Door to Your Creativity
“Much more of the brain is devoted to movement than to language. Language is only a little thing sitting on top of this huge ocean of movement.” -Oliver Sacks
Like many yoga practitioners, I am an artist. And like many artists, I am a yoga practitioner. But have you ever asked, in your own life and practice, what the specific relationship between the two could be?
It took me years to put together the pieces that now seem so clearly matched that my life’s work has come to center on teaching the connection.
Connecting Yoga and Writing
But it didn’t begin that way. In fact, as I did more yoga and more writing, I found these two pursuits, which once seemed so connected, grew further and further apart. Both my practices seemed more and more habitual, and the relationship between the realm of the body and that of language and story, more elusive and haphazard. And while teaching creative writing, I noticed that all around me, my students and my peers were suffering underlying issues of anxiety and blocks that neither traditional nor experimental approaches were resolving.
I knew then I had to go back to the body in a more rigorous way than I ever did before.
I left New York and moved to Tel Aviv to study the Feldenkrais Method. When I returned to New York years later, I started to develop and teach Sense Writing, an approach to writing that merges the principles of Feldenkrais and neuroplasticity with the creative process.
Among nearly 1,000 workshop participants across 7 countries, I’ve taught many who are serious students of yoga and somatics. I’ve come to appreciate how this group of people is so simpatico with the work that I do — and how many still struggle to connect their careful explorations of the physical terrain with a creative practice.
But our heightened and sensitive awareness of our internal perception and experience of our bodies can lead to more complex awareness in any terrain, real or imagined. With just small tweaks and shifts in what we already do, our yoga and somatic practices can bring clarity to our lives outside of the mat or the studio — no surprise there — but even specifically to areas that might at first seem so opposite to physical practice.
Discover the Connections Between Movement, Thought, and Imagination
And one of the simplest ways to notice the surprising connections is just to lie down and body map.
When you lie on the floor and close your eyes, the floor becomes a mirror. It shows you what parts of your body are making contact with the floor and what parts aren’t, what parts feel heavier and what parts feel lighter.
Your brain loves to look for differences, to differentiate, in the external world and in the internal. And when the muscles that resist gravity all day can unclench, and the brain is allowed to notice these differences in the two hemispheres of your body, something remarkable happens: the nervous system also unclenches from its usual overextended attention and, through mapping out the internal landscape, becomes calm and clear. By the end of this process, which asks for awareness and accuracy but never interference, we have a clearer sense of ourselves.
Becoming aware, while not trying to do anything (not even “let go”), gives the nervous system a chance to step in and do its thing – for you and your nervous system to collaborate in a new, nearly effortless way.
And out of that collaboration emerge not just curiosity and discovery but also a greater capacity for new sensations and images, new imaginative connections, new paths of thought: the ingredients for creativity and an invitation to connect a somatic practice you know with a creative practice you can begin to explore more bravely.