Yoga as Muse – “YAM” for short – is a technique developed by Jeffrey Davis, and explained in his book, The Journey from the Center to the Page. In YAM, we use yoga postures and breathing practices to intentionally get in touch with our innate creativity and express creative ideas on the page via these 4 preparations:
1. Setting dual intentions
Intentions are open-ended and open-minded. Goals are future-oriented, external and measurable. Intentions are internal and centered on the present moment. Mindfulness. Compassion. This breath.
Sit quietly with your hands at your heart and ask yourself, “What am I writing for?” The answer becomes your seed intention. It might come as a word, phrase, image, sound or feeling. Then, bring to mind a second, more specific intention for this particular writing session. This is your focus intention.
2. Showing up and shaping time
Many of us expect creativity to come at a later date. When things are somehow “right.” I know; I used to think, “Oh, I need to get rid of my office job and all these pesky responsibilities and go on retreat so that I can write a novel.” I would write only when inspired, which meant my writing practice was sporadic and undisciplined. With the help of YAM, a daily writing practice can become an absolute joy. You are the ruler of your own schedule. If you prioritize creative expression, you must carve out time in your busy day for it.
3. Stoking our creative fire
Creative will is the innate, intuitive, intelligent, imaginative MOTIVATION to create art, to innovate, to make something where there formerly was nothing. Although it is innate, we tend to find many ways of covering it up through distractions, excuses, and addictions.
For many years, all I wanted to do or felt I effectively could do was revise. Use old material and rearrange, rewrite, reformat. I was scared to write anything brand new and fresh. Maybe I felt that I needed to honor the old drafts by revising and editing them before moving on. With a dedicated YAM practice, fresh, new material emerges as if summoned from the universe.
4. Riding the wave of concentration
Life is full of distractions. There’s no such thing as total silence, perfect balance or ultimate closure. There are fleas and mosquitos nagging at our attention all the time. But rather than seeing these frequent visitors as irritations, it’s more productive and enjoyable to accept our day-to-day difficulties and use them as fodder for practice. Buddhist teachers urge us to look upon difficult people as our greatest teachers. Challenging situations are calls for compassion, patience, equanimity — and creativity.
The practice, I have discovered, is to quell distracting thought and harness creative ones.
YAM practice invites us to play with new movements and new ways of breathing and a new way of writing.
The creative mind is embodied in our physical human form. By moving our bodies in particular ways, and thereby gaining heightened body awareness, we also gain self-knowledge. This is a continual, lifelong process as our bodies and minds are in constant flux. By moving into a specific, linked, flowing series of yoga poses (specially-designed Yoga As Muse sequences), we can stimulate our creative minds and bring intention and inspiration to the generation of new ideas—written, visual and musical.
I became a YAM facilitator in 2011. If you’re interested in joining this our wildly creative TRIBE, learn more about the 2012 training. (Apply soon – training begins in May!) To learn more about Yoga as Muse and the work of Jeffrey Davis, visit Tracking Wonder.