Yoga and Creativity
Yoga and The Creative Process
In Fall 2007, Angelique Shofar, Founder and Director of Spirit
of Wellness (www.spiritofwellness.org) interviewed Author Ananda Leeke about the role that yoga plays in her
creative process. Below is an excerpt from the interview that was included in Shofar's newsletter.
AS: What is your definition of yoga?
AL: Yoga is an African science that originated
in ancient Egypt. It was codified by Pantajali, an Indian second century sage who wrote the Yoga Sutra. Yoga utilizes prayer,
meditation, chanting, breathing techniques, and physical exercises (postures) to teach one how to balance emotion, action,
and intelligence. In Sanskrit, yoga means union with Spirit in our breath, spirit, heart, mind, and body. When we unite every
part of ourselves with Spirit, we live in the present moment… the now… the only place we are supposed to be.
Living in the present moment allows us to honor, love, and accept ourselves and our bodies as they are. This is one of the
greatest gifts we can give to ourselves.
AS: How did you come to practice yoga?
AL: Yoga came to me shortly after I turned 30. I learned about it during Author Tony Browder’s African American history
trip to Kemet/Egypt in July 1995. What I learned during the trip is that yoga is an African science that was codified in India.
I saw temple images of Africans doing yoga during my trip. Making this connection helped me connect with yoga as a gift from
my African ancestors.
When I returned home, I was blessed with my yoga teacher, Gloria who taught me yoga in my
home. I was very happy to have one-on-one instruction because yoga classes were very intimidating. Gloria taught me kind and
gentle yoga for my daily life.
At that time, I had lower back pains (still do) and was working in a highly stressful
job. I was running to release the stress from my job in finance. The problem was that I did not stretch or breath deeply.
So my daily practice focused on pranayama and asanas that supported my lower back, opened my hips, and worked my leg muscles.
I fell in love with the sun salutation and child’s pose. They became my daily home practice. I love child’s pose
so much that I still do it in the bed before I go to sleep and when I wake up.
AS: How has yoga
helped your novel's creative process?
AL: Yoga has helped me surrender my ego and need to
control the creative process. Whenever I find myself becoming anxious about the process (... especially now that I am in the
final days of completing this project), I take a deep breath, raise my arms above my head in worship pose with my hands in
prayer. As I exhale, I chant the Sanskrit mantra "Namaha" which means surrender. I take another deep breath and
lower my arms slowly while chanting Namaha. My teacher Debra Mishalove taught me this exercise. It helps center me and
calms my need to push for things that are out of my control.
Whenever I have writer's block, I come into child's
pose on my yoga mat or in my bed. Most times, I stretch my arms out in front of me. My fingers are wideneded and get a nice
web-like stretch. Generally, I hold this pose for a long time (i.e. fifteen to twenty minutes) because it relaxes me and releases
stress from my lower back. I love to focus my breathing on opening my third eye, the sixth chakra which governs my intuition
and allows for clarity and understanding.
Another pose that I like to do when I have writer's block is forward
fold because it creates a blood rush in my brain. It gives me a little buzz. I also enjoy doing downward facing dog for the
When I am not in the mood to write, but know that I have to like this morning, I do a series of four
to six sun salutations. The series awakens my mind and warms my body. It becomes a magical elixir.
If I have nonstop
mind chatter that prevents me from focusing, I come into easy pose and cleanse my chakras by chanting each seed mantra (lam-vam-ram-yam-ham-om-soham).
I close the experience by chanting one of my favorite enlightenment mantras such as Om Namah Shivaya, Om Mani Padme Hum, or
the Gayatri Mantra.
When things are really tight and I can't breakthrough with any of these exercises, I lay
in corpse pose and breathe deeply while giving myself Reiki healing touch. This always does the trick. It refreshes me and
allows me to come into my higher self.
Yoga has taught me that I am a vessel for the creative expression of the
Divine Spirit. It has allowed me to get out of the way of my ego. With it, I am learning to live as my true self.
|Yogini surrendering and holding space for creative inspiration
Yoga and Writing by Ananda Kiamsha Madelyn Leeke
2007 by Madelyn C. Leeke. All rights reserved.
When I practice yoga, my ego disappears
into the Infinite
We become one
Messages pass through me
become stories, essays, poems, truisms, quotes, prayers, affirmations, letters, e-mail messages, blog posts, and journal entries
I inhale and raise my hands above my head, pressing the palms
of my hands together
My gaze is focused on my thumbs
My head is balanced on my shoulders
My shoulders are rolled
My heart shines forth
My spine is long and strong
My belly is soft but tucked in
My arms hang gracefully
with spladed fingers
My legs support my core as my feet ground themselves to Mother Earth
In this space, I breathe
in and out five times...
On my next inhalation, I come into a forward fold
The blood rushes down from my head
I get a buzz
It feels like nirvana
I take a deep breath and raise myself up one vertabrae at a time
exhale, my arms find comfort by my side
I stand in place for several moments, feeling the benefits of my short practice
The next moment encourages me to inhale and bring my hands into prayer against my heart
I close my practice chanting
Om in my spirit
Om in my heart
Om in my breath
Om in my mind
Om in my body
Om in my
Om in my writing
|ANANSE NTONTAN is a Ghanaian Andikra symbol of creativity.
Author Ananda Leeke's
Favorite Quotes on Writing
1) Author, poet, professor, and cultural critic bell hooks writes in her book, remembered rapture:
the writer at work that,
"In that moment of grace when the words come, when I surrender to their ecstatic
power, there is no witness."
"[A writer] who strives to be true to artistic integrity surrenders to the shape the work takes of its
a way to embrace the mysterious, to walk with spirits, and an entry to the realm of the sacred."
"What is the best way to write? Each of us has to discover her own way by writing. Writing teaches writing. No one can
tell you your own secret."
|Yogini/Author Ananda Leeke at kg yoga life practices event in Malcolm X Park in 2006
Aboout kg yoga life practices
Author Ananda Leeke
is Founder and Director of kg yoga life practices, a healing arts service that helps individuals, organizations,
businesses, and communities develop and use self-care tools that cultivate awareness, balance, and calm in daily life. See
the mission, philosophy, and description of services below. Visit http://kgyoga.blogspot.com.
kg yoga life practices’ mission is to share and teach self-care tools in a kind and gentle manner
that honors the heart of each individual’s needs. By providing these services in this manner, kg yoga life practices
encourages its clients to use their life experiences as opportunities to surrender their egos, open their hearts, and practice
mindfulness (sati), loving kindness (metta),
compassion (karuna), honesty (satya), empathetic
joy (mudita), and equanimity (upekka).
kg yoga life practices’ philosophy is based on three yogic principles:
Iswara Pranidhana (surrender), Sankalpa (intention), and Abyhasa (devoted practice). When you surrender
your ego, your heart opens and allows you to live in the present. Living in the present helps you create space in your spirit,
mind, and body to set an intention for a devoted practice of self-care. A devoted practice begins with yoga and incorporates
self-care tools that address your individual needs.
In Sanskrit, yoga means the union of spirit, mind, body, and
breath. This union occurs when you open your heart and surrender to the present moment. When you live in the present moment,
yoga blesses you with the benefits of:
-Awareness of your concentration, effort, and mindfulness;
of truth in your intention and understanding; and
-Authenticity in your speech, actions, and livelihood.
benefits help yoga to become Your Opportunity to Graciously Accept yourself and life.™
yoga life practices will work with clients to determine their intentions, assess their needs, and develop a customized healing
arts session(s) that incorporates one or more of these self-care tools. For more information about kg yoga life practices'
services and fees, please contact:
kg yoga life practices
Copyright 2008-2015 by Madelyn C. Leeke
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