Yoga for the Creative Class: Do Your Yoga

By Colleen Leonardi

Do your yoga, which is another way of saying do your thing. Never had this become so clear to me so quickly—the connections between being your creative, searching self and doing yoga—than in a dharma talk with yoga teacher Doug Keller at Yoga on High last weekend.

I love dharma talks. And Doug gives really good talks. He actually talks for two hours and cites all sorts of sources and has a thesis and touches on philosophy while still keeping it light and engaging with anecdotes and stories. He started with the history of Hatha yoga and its transformations over time, but then he said something like, “When you join your focus to a discipline that is yoga,” and I was hooked.
He told the story of a yoga teacher he knows who told his students that sometimes yoga for him is taking a walk. That’s his yoga practice for the day. The teacher’s students were flabbergasted. That’s not yoga. That’s just taking a walk! How could something so simple as taking a walk be a true yoga practice?

Well, I’m with the yoga teacher. Sometimes I take walks—a breathing, walking meditation—and that’s my yoga for the day. In this way yoga becomes whatever works for you, whatever discipline you focus your mind to for a period of time, as Doug said, whether it be washing dishes, gardening, helping your grandmother walk down the stairs, playing with your grandchild in the living room. That’s your yoga.

Where does creativity come into this? Well, what I realized for me personally is that my studies in yoga are what have allowed me to do the creative work I do. I edit and write for a food magazine, make dances, teach yoga and choreography, keep a blog—all of this is my yoga. And I’m able to do all of this because I practice yoga and all it contains.

Doug spoke to this idea so eloquently over and over again. He talked about how your work in this lifetime is to live your dharma and how “your own dharma is your sacrifice” to the world, your personal offering to humanity. He talked about how the yogis of old were rebels in society. They realized that “in order to write your own destiny you have to step outside of the box.” (Writing your own destiny and stepping outside of the box is what creative people do, again and again.)

And he parsed out the layers of the personal transformation that can take place when you begin writing your own destiny:

Layer one: Affirmation where you confirm, “This is who I am.”

Layer two: Purification where a “cleaning away of the ideas that keep one from having that experience” of affirmation of self takes place. “As you peel back the layers,” he said, “there’s that divine spark… that moment of grace.”

Layer three: The breakthrough where you open to your true nature and heart.

Layer four: You move that true nature and heart out into the world to interact with others into “living a life of compassion because it’s the truth.” It’s your truth.

These layers can unfold on both the micro and macro level. A yoga class can mirror these steps, or a life can mirror these steps. Either way you must commit yourself to cracking the shell of ego and ideas of who you think you are and what you think you want in this lifetime to open to the breakthrough—your true nature, your heart.

“To be truly passionate is to be a yogi,” Doug said.

Isn’t it when we are the most creative, in the act of making something we love for ourselves or someone else, that we are truly passionate? What are you most passionate about? How can you join that passion to a discipline, a focus? How can you practice being passionate?

Do your thing in this world. Come back to the mat. Come back to your life. Come back to yourself. Just come back, again and again.

Don’t spend too much thought on who you think you are. Don’t worry about the labels “artist” or “entrepreneur” or any other label you’ve acquired in this lifetime. They’re like broken wings, those labels, keeping you from flying towards your truth.

Practice passion. Come back. Practice more passion. Come back. Practice even more passion. Come back. Flow with your light, not against it.

That is doing your yoga. A big, bright namaste to Doug Keller for helping me see that on a Friday evening in May.

(Note: This post was originally published by Colleen Leonardi on her website colleenleonardi.com.)

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2 Responses to Yoga for the Creative Class: Do Your Yoga
  1. Jenn

    Beautiful!!

  2. Colleen Leonardi

    Thanks so much, Jenn! Namaste.