Posted by: Bruce Black | March 9, 2018

Day 5 of the 15/15 Writing Yoga Challenge

“If you are facing a new challenge or being asked to do something that you have never done before, don’t be afraid to step out. You have more capability than you think you do, but you will never see it unless you place a demand on yourself for more.”–Joyce Meyer

What yoga pose do you find the most challenging … and what makes it so difficult? And how does your practice help you approach such a challenge (or a pose that you’ve never done before)? #Write: 15 min

Posted by: Bruce Black | March 8, 2018

Day 4 of the 15/15 Writing Yoga Challenge

“Every time you are tempted to react in the same old way, ask if you want to be a prisoner of the past or a pioneer of the future.” — Deepak Chopra

How does your yoga practice help you expand into the fullness of who you are, to see the possibilities of who you might become? #Write: 15 minutes

Posted by: Bruce Black | March 7, 2018

Day 3 of the 15/15 Writing Yoga Challenge

“Anxiety’s like a rocking chair. It gives you something to do, but it doesn’t get you very far.” — Jodi Picoult

The world can be a crazy and dangerous place, and our anxiety can play a large part in our lives and in how we respond to whatever life brings us. What happens on your mat that helps reduce your sense of anxiety and brings you into a different place–a place of safety, calm, and peace? #Write: 15 min.

Posted by: Bruce Black | March 6, 2018

Day 2 of the 15/15 Writing Yoga Challenge

“The heart of most spiritual practices is simply this: Remember who you are. Remember what you love. Remember what is sacred. Remember what is true. Remember that you will die and that this day is a gift. Remember how you wish to live.”–Wayne Muller

Sometimes we lose sight of who we are, of our dreams, of what we love to do, and who we love. But each time we step onto our mat, yoga can help us remember. How does yoga inspire you to remember what’s important? #Write: 15 min.

Posted by: Bruce Black | March 5, 2018

Day 1 of the 15/15 Writing Yoga Challenge

“Every day is a journey, and the journey itself is home.” — Matsuo Basho

Imagine each yoga pose as a journey that you’ve never taken before. What pose is your favorite? And how does it help you find the courage to step into the unknown each day? #Write: 15 min

Posted by: Bruce Black | March 4, 2018

Welcome to the 15/15 Writing Yoga Challenge

Welcome, all! Tomorrow we’ll begin our journaling practice together (well, virtually speaking), and I just want to thank you for joining us.

I’ve found the journal that I’m going to use over the next fifteen days. It was a gift that I received from the 2015-16 class of teachers in training at Yoga Village, where I led a Writing Yoga workshop one Sunday morning in January. I saved it for a special occasion, and I’m looking forward to turning to a blank page to begin.

I still remember driving over the Skyway Bridge to Yoga Village in Clearwater that morning not knowing what would happen–if I could communicate my love of writing to the students, if I’d be able to share that sense of discovery that comes with keeping a journal, or if the students would feel that spark of recognition when suddenly they understood something that had been a puzzle until they started writing about it.

And I remember my surprise at being given the gift of the journal, and how my heart melted when I opened it to find this note inscribed on the first page: “Thank you, Bruce! With much love…” And then, on the opening pages, a note of gratitude from each of the eighteen students.

On the cover of the journal is an inspiring quote from an unknown author: “In the midst of our lives, we must find the magic that makes our souls soar.”

In the days ahead, I hope your soul will soar and you’ll find magic in the process of keeping a journal, in the act of putting words down each day, as each of us (alone but together) explores new territory.

See you tomorrow.

Posted by: Bruce Black | March 1, 2018

Join Us For The 15/15 Writing Yoga Challenge

“Yoga is the perfect opportunity to be curious about who you are.” – Jason Crandell

I’d like to invite you to join me for the 15/15 Writing Yoga Challenge beginning on Monday, March 5th.

It’s a way for us to support each other as we write in our journals for fifteen minutes a day for fifteen days.

You can decide when you want to write. If you’re a morning person, you can write in the morning. If evening suits you better, great, write in the evening. If you prefer to write before your yoga practice or afterward—or even during your practice—that’s wonderful. Just take out your journal and begin.

Let’s call it a journaling retreat. You don’t have to leave your home. You can wear whatever you want—yoga pants, pajamas, jeans or shorts—and you can go barefoot or wear stylish boots, flip-flops, or shoes. It’s your retreat, so you can decide.

We’ll write each day together and offer our support to one another. (You’re writing? So am I!) You can join me here on the blog beginning on March 5th, or you can check in on Facebook or Twitter. (See links below.)

This 15-day retreat will offer you a chance to explore your practice in the privacy of your own journal. You don’t have to share what you write. You just need to commit to showing up for fifteen minutes a day for fifteen days, the same way you commit to showing up on your mat.

Oh, and did I mention there’s no cost? It’s free, except you’ll have to provide your own journal and pen, or your own computer if you prefer typing to writing in longhand.

All that’s required is a willingness to write in a journal for fifteen minutes a day for fifteen days in order to examine how yoga influences your life and how the poses inspire you to see yourself in a new light.

Each day I’ll offer a new prompt to start us on our fifteen minutes of writing.

You’re welcome to use the prompt or ignore it and write instead about whatever might be on your mind that day. Just set aside fifteen minutes at any time of the day (or night) that’s convenient for you.

That’s it. Fifteen minutes.

And when you finish your fifteen minutes of writing, you’re welcome to leave a brief note or comment (on this page or over at Facebook or Twitter), just to let others know that you spent time with your journal, or to share your thoughts about the process of keeping a journal or about how that day’s writing might have impacted your practice (and your life) in ways that you might not have expected.

Even if you only write a few words, even if you just sit staring at a blank page, let us know so you can offer your support to others, and perhaps feel boosted (and inspired) by the support of the group.

If you’re on Facebook, visit the 15/15 Writing Yoga Challenge page and join the group:

If you prefer Twitter, you can join the conversation at @writingyoga:

Hope to see you on March 5th.

In the meantime, if you’re curious about the benefits of keeping a journal, you might find these links worthwhile:


Posted by: Bruce Black | February 1, 2018

A Wave of Frustration

Everything is fine in pose after pose while doing our Sun Salutes this morning, but then our teacher introduces a new pose—Bakasana—and I come up against a wall of limitations that I don’t know are there until I try to move past them. A wave of frustration washes over me. I am ready to shout “Enough!” and step off the mat.

The most frustrated I’ve ever felt on the mat? It was the first time I tried to push off my back into Urdadanarasana, the Upward Facing Bow pose. Everyone else in the class seemed to have enough flexibility and strength to lift their buttocks high off the ground, arch their backs, and stretch away from the floor with their hands and feet firmly rooted beneath them. But I was barely strong enough to lift my buttocks a half-inch off the ground. One meager half-inch!

I remember feeling so frustrated with myself for not being able to push up fully into the pose, to lift my buttocks off the floor, to stretch out my arms and push up my shoulders, and to extend my legs so my hips would rise higher. I remember feeling frustrated, too, for being unable to do what the others in the class were able to do and which they made look so easy. Frustrated that I couldn’t join them in the same experience, couldn’t be part of the shrieks of delight and victory punctuating the class as everyone else rose up in the pose together. Frustrated with myself for feeling frustrated—and for making myself feel this way—especially knowing that I couldn’t do any more than what I had done. Why couldn’t I accept that? Instead, I got more and more frustrated. I let my inability to do something override my pleasure of just being on the mat.

Frustration can pervade your entire experience on the mat if you let feelings of frustration overwhelm you. But the poses themselves, especially the ones that are most frustrating because you can’t yet do them, can teach you how to step past frustration and regain the joy of your poses.

Each yoga pose teaches us how to see our emotions as if they are just another pose in our asana practice. You can watch yourself enter the emotion in the same way you can watch yourself enter the pose. And you can watch yourself settle into the pose and then move out of it again as you prepare for the next pose and the next. In each moment, we can open to another way of experiencing the moment, another way of feeling in that moment.

If you let yourself hold too tightly to frustration, you’ll only suffer more frustration. But if you can release your hold on the emotion and let it pass, accept it without judgment, and notice how it comes into your life and how it departs, you may find that you are able to move into the next pose, the next emotion, the next moment, without feeling weighed down or held back by frustration.

Okay, it’s time for me to return to Bakasana, but without the frustrated feelings of my first effort. Wish me luck!

Write 10 minutes: Frustration can serve as a catalyst for exploration in your journal (and your yoga practice). You might consider these questions to start: Why do you feel frustrated in a certain pose? What is causing this sense of frustration? And why can’t you move past it? Pick a pose that you find challenging and notice what you can do in the pose and what you can’t yet do. Does thinking about the pose as something you can’t yet do, rather than as something you may never do, influence your perspective? How does a shift in perspective alter your sense of frustration?

Posted by: Bruce Black | January 1, 2018

When a Teacher Appears

A teacher can make the difference between self-discovery and self-deception, between passion and discontent, between curiosity and boredom. A teacher’s voice can inspire trust or doubt, courage or cowardice. One teacher might help you learn how to explore your inner world while another might teach you to walk away from that world, to ignore it, and pursue something else.

Teachers appear when we most need them. They enter our lives when we least expect them, and their voice, or something they say, or the way they say it, creates a spark, and we see and feel something in the light of that spark that we never felt before. And we seek a way to stay close to that spark, hoping by staying close that over time the light of our teacher’s insights will illuminate our lives, our hearts.

Teachers come in many forms. Yoga teachers. English literature teachers. Writing teachers. Basketball coaches. Editors. Parents. Friends. An aunt or uncle. Even the announcer on the evening TV news. A favorite songwriter. A pet—a cat, a dog, a fish, a turtle. Even your mat can teach you something you hadn’t expected to learn before you stepped on it to begin your yoga practice.

In our yoga classes we trust our teachers to guide us through the basic steps of each pose without injury. We trust that they’ve learned enough about the body’s limitations and the stresses of each pose to help us avoid pain. But, more than that, we trust them to know and share with us how a pose might benefit us. What will we gain from the pose? (Stronger quads? More flexibility in our hips? Looser hamstrings? Better posture?) We rely on their experience to help us navigate our way through the risks of each pose, and we trust them to keep us safe, even as we explore new and challenging positions.

Learning—any kind of learning, with or without a teacher—requires that we step into the unknown. And taking that step requires faith in our ability to do something new, as well as faith in our teacher to help us take that step past the place where we’ve never been before.

Each of us learns in different ways, at different paces, and from different things. Life itself can teach us what we need to know if we pay close attention. Ultimately, that’s the role of any teacher—not just to impart knowledge, but to help us become more aware of ourselves, the world around us, and our potential for growth. Our teachers help us expand into the world in the fullest way possible. Teaching is about helping someone open her eyes to her potential and to the possibilities awaiting her.

Each time you step on your mat in the year ahead, take a moment to acknowledge a teacher who has helped you see your own possibilities.

Each time you enter a new pose, pause and give thanks to the teacher who helped you find your way into the pose without injury and who taught you how to use the pose as a tool to explore your inner self, your mind and heart.

And each time you leave a pose, express gratitude to a teacher for the insights that pose imparted to you, for the new sense of self that you found, and for the possibilities that you can now envision for yourself and for your world in the year ahead.

Mindfulness practice: Who was the first teacher who helped you discover the joy of learning? Imagine you are sitting in his or her class again. What does it feel like to find yourself in that classroom once more? What lessons is he or she sharing with the class? How might your life have been different if you hadn’t met this teacher. What benefits have come your way as a result of taking his or her class? Write: 10 min.



Posted by: Bruce Black | December 1, 2017

The Gift of Being

Often we lose sight of the gift of being in the moment because we are busy striving for something just beyond our reach.

Is this striving—this continual reaching for, wanting, needing something more—ingrained in human nature? Or do we learn to strive from our culture and its values, or perhaps from the people who surround us in our day-to-day lives?

Do you strive for a better job, more money, a larger house, a newer car? Do you strive for beauty or serenity or love? Are you striving for what you don’t have or own but what you want—words of praise, recognition, admiration, love? Are you striving for perfection—or something close to perfection—in your poses, your life, your work, your relationships, your self?

Does this striving for something more ever cease?

It may be an inextricable part of human nature to strive, to want more, but my yoga practice has helped me become aware of the moments in which I strive for more and has helped me reflect on the futility of striving.

Each pose helps me recognize that no matter how hard or how long I strive for something, once I attain it—if I ever attain whatever I’m striving for—I’ll always want more…and more… and more.

If I strive to do a “perfect” Down Dog, for example, I will find once I do my version of a “perfect” Down Dog (if there is such a thing) that next I’ll want to do a “perfect” One-legged Dog and after that a “perfect” Chatarunga or Cobra or Plank. It never ends, this striving, this seeking some form of perfection.

But my yoga practice has shown me that perfection is an illusion, just as permanence is an illusion, and that all of life is constantly changing, in constant motion, just like my asana practice. One day I may feel I’ve found my fullest expression of Downward Dog or Tree Pose, but the next day my shoulders might feel tight or my hamstrings might ache in Downward Dog, or I might not be able to hold my balance and will keep falling out of Tree Pose.

It doesn’t take long after I step onto my mat, though, to feel a sense of peace wrap itself around me, and I find that I can stop striving for perfection and cease trying to be someone other than who I am or wanting to be some place other than where I am.

On my mat, as each pose takes me deeper into what matters most, I can simply let myself “be” in the pose and savor the moment.

It’s only when we learn to stop striving and cease wanting to be elsewhere, only when we can accept that permanence and perfection are illusions, only then that our mats—and our lives—can give us the gift of being in the moment.

Journal Practice: Take a moment to think about the things you strive for. Ask yourself what is the source of this striving, this desire for something more. Is it a positive or negative force in your life? If positive, how so? If negative, why? Has there ever been a time in your life when you stopped striving and just let yourself be? Can you describe how you felt then… and contrast it with how you feel now? Write: 10 minutes.

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