Yoga and the Arts: Movement, Creativity, and Inspiration

It’s no surprise that many yoga teachers and practitioners are also artists. Yoga and the arts are wonderfully complementary, intuitive disciples rich in creativity and rooted in self-expression. Each pose often tells a story; asana sequences and kriyas can be perceived as choreographed flows; and the deep experiences many have on the mat can be as evocative of feeling as witnessing a wondrous piece of art.

We spoke to three yoga teachers about how their creative pursuits—painting, dance, and writing, respectively—enhance their yoga teaching and practice, and how each of their creative outlets informs each other.

Hari Kirin Kaur Khalsa, Kundalini Yoga teacher and artist
Creating art cultivates intuition, a deep listening and a willingness to try new things. These are all essential to yoga teaching as well. There was a time I would prepare a class/workshop and deliver pretty much what I had prepared. That rarely works these days. Nervous systems are fragile, people suffer from trauma and stress … everyone is more sensitive. I still prepare, but then I sit with the class and sense what will be most helpful in this moment. Both the content and the method of delivery may change and still I’m committed to delivering a stable, calm closing by the end of the session. That takes creativity!

The more time I spend in that open, listening state, teaching yoga, the deeper that state is in the art making. My hope is that when people encounter my paintings or installations they drop in to that same open, deep listening.

Megha Nancy Buttenheim, founder of Let Your Yoga Dance
Dancing and creativity not only enhance my yoga teaching, they also propel my entire life. Decades ago, I discovered that if I could take my lifelong practice of dance and blend it with yoga, I would create something that might serve others as well as myself. I realized that if I allowed yoga poses to move in a new way, the results would be unique: deep, innovative, joyful.

Dance has made me a better yoga teacher. I offer my students a commitment to fluidity and ease as they move through their postures. Sometimes, at the beginning of a yoga class, I will play Ravel’s “Bolero,” guiding my students in a dancing yoga warm-up that lets them tune into themselves. Or I might offer a posture and then ask the students to close their eyes and discover their own dance within that posture. I call this “outside-the-box yoga.”

Rachel Schaeffer, yoga teacher, writer, and creator of Story Alchemy
We are all innately creative, and yoga and writing are two powerful change agents that work together to ignite our creativity. Yoga is an antidote to stress. It steadies the mind and builds focus—all a ripe training ground for the creative process.

On the days when I practice yoga before writing, I am freer. When my yoga practice is consistent, creative sparks fly. For me, writing without yoga is like trying to water my garden with a hose that has a kink in it. It trickles but can’t get a steady flow. True yoga—with the emphasis on nonjudgmental awareness and breath—opens that flow and allows my creative energy and personal power to feel more like a high-pressure fire hose.

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