Posted by: Bruce Black | April 1, 2011

Learning to practice

Today– April 1, 2011– is the official publication date of Writing Yoga.

It’s a book that I’d never have written if I hadn’t signed up for yoga classes six years ago.

I didn’t “practice” yoga then. I went to class. I listened and watched. I tried to understand how making my body twist and bend would help improve my posture or flexibility. I tried to learn patience in each pose. And faith. But I wouldn’t call it practicing yoga. It was more like learning to practice yoga. But maybe the learning to practice is practicing, something that I didn’t understand then but think I understand now.

My teachers encouraged us to choose a theme for each class. Use that theme, they’d suggest, to deepen your experience on the mat. Keep a beloved relative or friend close to your heart. Or think of a theme, like faith or confidence or love, they’d say, and let that theme inspire you.

By keeping an image or memory of what I loved in my heart while I went through the various poses, somehow I increased my strength, determination, and understanding.

One question that my teacher used to ask us–and still asks us–is: “What do you want to manifest in the universe?” Not what do you want from the universe. But what do you want to give the universe.

On my mat in those classes, sitting with my eyes closed, I would think about what I most wanted to manifest in the world. What did I want to bring to the world? And I heard a quiet voice say: words and stories.

I didn’t know what I wanted to write then. I only knew that I needed to write, needed to hear words and stories. And, more importantly, I needed to hear my own voice.

Call it a wish or a prayer, but as I went through the poses each week, I kept these thoughts in my head. My love for words. My love of stories.

I trusted one day that I would find a way to write, to tell a story. And out of the poses and hopes and dreams–out of the intention that I set early on– emerged a book, like fruit that’s ripened over time.

Welcome to the world, Writing Yoga!

Thanks to my teachers (especially Jaye Martin and Rita Knorr) who taught me how to set an intention for each pose, each practice session, and thanks to everyone at Garden of the Heart Yoga Center for sharing their poses (and their friendship) with me week after week.

And a huge thanks to my editor, Linda Cogozzo, for helping bring the book into the world.

Journal Practice: As you learn to practice, ask yourself what you want to manifest in the universe. Spend a few minutes sitting with that question. Don’t try to answer it. Close your eyes. Let words and thoughts swirl around in your head. Listen to your breath. Listen to the sound of your heart. What is it telling you? Do you want to write a book? Show more kindness to friends? Feel more confident? Listen more carefully? Now open your eyes, reach for your pen and journal, and begin writing about the gift that you’d like to share with others (or just with yourself).

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