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If The Yoga Doesn't Kill Me, the Writing WillDecember 14, 2009

I think there's a real connection between yoga and writing for me. Yes, I love them both, but more than that, I love having done them.

Sure, yoga is amazing. In the middle of a pose, I get it. I feel exactly right. I'm flying. Everything feels fixed and good and strong.

But then other times, I'm upside-down in plow position, looking at my belly which is falling down toward me in an alarming direction, struggling to breathe, thinking I'M NOT GOING TO MAKE IT, I THINK I WILL DIE NOW.

And writing is the same. I sit at my desk and every once in a while, I fly. The words flow and I look up and an hour has gone by, and the words I've written are brilliant, every single one a sparkling gem.

But really, most often it goes like this: Peck, peck, peck. CAN I LOOK AT TWITTER YET? Rearrange this, would he really say that? Are you serious, I wrote that? HEAD TO DESK. Start over with that. Move that to there. Oh, that's nice. I like that bit quite a lot. Nice job, you. You can have some more coffee, then. Yes, Twitter now.

The great thing, though, is being done. The wonderful thing is walking the dogs after having written for four hours. The best thing is a nap after yoga.

You know what I would like, though? This: I have found that yoga is the one thing during which I can't think of anything else. It has a lot to do with my wonderful teacher, Alice Joanou at Loka Yoga in Oakland, who I think might be trying to kill us all (in a good way), but when I'm practicing with her, I can't do anything else but listen to my breath and my body. My brain shuts up for 90 minutes. Okay, for 80 minutes, because there are some quiet minutes during which we're just breathing, and my brain tries to chatter, and I try to shut it up and breathe. But for those other 80, that yoga-motion is the best method for quieting the monkey-mind I've ever found.

Oh, my point: I would like if someday I could move this practice to my writing. If I could sit down at my desk to write and find that kind of focus and energy and bring it there, also. The two FEEL so linked that I can imagine it's possible.

I'm gonna keep trying anyway.

* Your reward for sitting through this rather New-Age-y post is an even stranger question: Has anyone ever had this happen to them? Twice now, in yoga, at the very beginning, during the breathing portion, where we're just sitting and breathing, I've had it happen that when my eyes are closed, I'm completely convinced that my head is turned to the right, looking over my right shoulder. It happened again today. I open my eyes and confirm I'm still sitting with my head straight forward. As soon as I close them, my center of balance says that my head is looking over my shoulder. It's devastating to my balance and very confusing. It goes away quickly, and the rest of my class is normal. Anyone? I asked Alice and she'd never heard of anything like it.

** Edited to add: Caroline pointed out that this is called proprioception. I looked it up on Wikipedia, and it says this: "Proprioception is occasionally impaired spontaneously, especially when one is tired. One's body may appear too large or too small, or parts of the body may appear distorted in size. Similar effects can sometimes occur during epilepsy or migraine auras." Well, heck! I'm on seizure medication for my migraines, and I've never had this happen before I went on this stuff. I kinda thought it might be a side effect of the Topomax, but that makes me think that's what it is for sure. Either that or there's something behind me. 


Whew! Glad to know that Real Writers (R) have chattery monkey-mind too; makes me feel a bit better about my second-by-second writing time.

I get this, too - I have middle ear/equilibrium issues. Not sure if that's what's going with you. It only happens when eyes are closed. When it gets really bad and combined with a cold, I'll actually TIP OVER with my eyes closed.

proprioception is off. what actually IS over your right shoulder if you were looking that way? Sounds like something's trying to get your attention...Have never had that happen but HAVE sworn with my eyes closed that a hugely bright, white light just got switched on in the room. Open eyes, pitch dark. Close eyes, bright white. Wtf? was an energetic blaze...just sayin'.

I had a college prof always start the class with reading a something and then move on to the lecture. We all calmed down and could listen. Kind of like Mr Rogers welcoming us to his neighborhood and then exploring. If you have a ritual (like breathing at the beginning of yoga) to focus you maybe you could find the zen energy in writing.

I don't have the head turn thing but I am often convinced I am floating an inch or so off the floor.

Sometimes, I feel much taller than I am - except that's not quite it - it's more like my head is floating up higher above my body, and my feet are a long ways away.

And typing that makes me sound a little crazy, I'm afraid... (Give Digit a hug for me, okay?)

I have totally had this happened...so bizarre. Both the moving head as well as the size shift.

Oooh, I've had the bright light in pitch darkness thing. What happens to me in Yoga is that I start crying for no apparent reason. I'm sitting there blissed out, then WHAM. Tears streaming.

Last week I finished a 'Mat to the Pallet' class that starts with yoga then moves to art. I drew with my non-dominant hand (pastels), when I went to wash up, I kept moving to the wrong side of the sink to get the paper towels even though I've been at that sink a zillion (okay,12) times.

Psssst! I found this on etsy and I believe someone might have made it just for you!


Something's behind you. But don't worry. It probably won't be too bad.

Can I help with a serving of paranoia?

(In the middle of a nice allergic reaction to penicillin, I was floating above my bed. That, and something was coming through the window to get me. I'm almost sure the steroids and benadryl later were better.)

I think it's most likely the topamax, but call your neurologist anyways. It could be an inner ear thing, too.

I hate writing. I love having written.
D. Parker

I hate writing. I would love having written.
D. Procrastinator

"Proprioception is occasionally impaired spontaneously, especially when one is tired. One's body may appear too large or too small, or parts of the body may appear distorted in size."

Thank you for this, I am NOT insane then. When I was younger and having a fever it would seem all of my body parts were far too big for my head! Everything felt out of whack and it was very discomforting to say the least. Now I have some inkling to what the heck was going on. Thank you :)

Used to be the weirdest feeling.. and something I could not describe..

It's usually a ear/labyrrinth issue. You have a little gizmo in your ear that tells your brain which way is up even when your eyes are closed (that's the proprioception bit). Imagine there's a bucket in front of you full of water and you're holding a conker on a piece of string. The conker is in the water and if you kick the bucket the vibration moves the conker and the movement travels up the string and you feel it in your arm. The conker is an otolith on a hair in one of the ampulae in one of your semi-circular canals.
Now, imagine you chanhe the water for something else; the vibration changes, as does the movement up the string/your arm, causing a mismatch between the proprioceptive message your brain gets and the one it gets from your eyes.
Alcohol is the commonest thing that does this (speeds things up) and snot (mucus/catarrh; slows things down) the other.
If you don't have anything that might be triggering this, get an ENT check. I work in a very wet, snotty place and as a GP, do these checkups several times a day - especially in winter.
Don't worry.

This may be the oldest news in the world, but have you read Natalie Goldberg? Writing and Zen and the mind and all that....

I've had the feeling of my head WAY above the rest of my body, while sitting with eyes closed. And other stuff too. The mind is a strange thing.

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