How Yoga Can Help You Rewrite Your Story, on the Page and in Your Life

We are constantly telling stories. The ones we tell ourselves are the most important because they shape and steer our lives. Some stories are life-enhancing, while other narratives are cruel—filled with self-doubt, judgment, and criticism. Self-hate is one of the most prominent addictions in our society, and an old story and habit that I have personally worked on as a “Story Alchemist.” 

Though these disempowering stories are simply limiting beliefs and old patterns, we often keep repeating them over and over, until we accept them as “true.” But many of these “truths” were formed when we were young, in difficult situations, or as safety or coping mechanisms. Now they continue to infect our lives and cause us pain—and we become the villain of our personal narrative. So how do we return to our true nature and reclaim ourselves as the hero or heroine of our life story? 

Writing, yoga, and meditation are the most powerful practices that we use in Story Alchemy to transform our stuck patterns and old stories. Each has been proven to exalt our ability to open ourselves to flexible thinking and creativity—the cornerstone of change. How can we listen and truly hear the whispers of our intuition, our muses, our conscious curiosity, if our minds and bodies—the very channels of receptivity—are constricted in fear and tension? 

You need not be a seasoned yogi or a budding novelist to reap the benefits of these practices and experience the dance between them. We are all innately creative. We may feel that our creativity is stuck, blocked, or locked up, but it exists. Like chronic aches and stiffness, your old stories might weigh you down—not just physically, but also emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. Disempowering stories keep you stuck and inflexible. 

Yoga and writing are two powerful change agents that work together to ignite our creativity. Studies show that yoga and meditation are antidotes to stress, steady the mind, and build focus—all beneficial for the creative process. Our bodies store memories, emotions, and stories. The habitual way we shape our bodies affects our mood, attitude, and perspective. We spend most of our waking hours sitting and standing, but our bodies have an enormous range of possibility. By expanding our repertoire of physical movements and allowing ourselves to experiment, we literally begin to see things from different perspectives. 

Yoga is a narrative we can embrace. It says that we’re already flexible, aligned, and able; that we are innately strong, powerful, and openhearted. Powerful enough to harness our mental energy; rein in the doubt, stress, and anxiety; and transform our own story. 

Before it was popular, I taught yoga for credit while on the faculty at Montclair State University for nearly a decade. I taught that each yoga pose told a “postural story”; that concept formed the basis for my first book, Yoga for Your Spiritual Muscles. Bow pose, for instance, holds the story of an open heart, an energized and flexible spine—the shape of bravery. Child’s pose is a tale of humility, of surrendering to the highest in ourselves and others and placing our mental chatter below what matters most, our heart. Mountain pose reveals our confidence, strength, and endurance, despite the storms of life. 

The practice of nonjudgmental awareness, or witness consciousness, on the yoga mat cultivates the same spaciousness that creates art. On the days when I practice yoga before writing, I am freer. When my yoga practice is consistent, creative sparks fly. Writing without yoga/meditation is like trying to water my garden with a hose that has a kink in it. It trickles but can’t really get going. Yoga, practiced with an emphasis on nonjudgmental awareness and breath, unblocks the hose and allows my creative energy and personal power to flow freely. Writing and yoga can open the floodgates of your creative juices and help you remember who you are: the noble hero or heroine of your life story. 

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Rachel Schaeffer is the author of Yoga for Your Spiritual Muscles and the host/executive producer of The Red Couch, an Internet, radio, and television talk show.

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