Sometimes we writers get so engrossed in our stories that we forget to take care of ourselves. We’re all too familiar with stress, fatigue, and a sore back & neck from sitting hunched over our desks for hours trying to pound out those words. With NaNoWriMo coming up, I thought this would be a good time to deviate a little from my usual writing advice and help you be nice to yourself 😉
I’m in love with yoga–I always feel so fantastic after practicing! It helps me relax, control my stress, get energized, and clear my head before a writing session.
“But I can’t do yoga, I’m not flexible!” you protest. Excuse me while I giggle at you. You do yoga to become flexible, not because you are flexible. I am so hopelessly inflexible that if I can do yoga, I have faith in you. Yoga is for everyone, you just have to start simple!
This yoga routine focuses on the shoulders, neck, and back, which tend to be problem areas for us writers. All of the moves are beginner level–I promise you won’t have to twist yourself into a pretzel! It takes about 30 minutes to complete the routine, a nice little break between writing sessions.
But before we get started, let’s go over some yoga basics for you newbies.
Movements–Yoga is all about slow, smooth, controlled movements. Don’t rush!
Breathing–You want to take slow, deep breaths. Focus on your breath, and allow it to “fill” your body. When you exhale, imagine you are pushing your breath out to flood through all your muscles. In yoga, you inhale when you move into a pose and exhale when you move out of the pose.
Body Awareness–Become aware of how your body moves, what feels good and what doesn’t. Pay attention to your balance.
Mind–Empty your thoughts. Focus on your breath and body, keeping your mind clear. This is a time to meditate and relax, shutting out worries, responsibilities, etc
Equipment–You can use a yoga mat if you like, or if you don’t have a mat a towel or blanket will work. You can even just use a carpeted area, which is what I usually do. Also, wear loose, non-restricting clothing.
Ready? Let’s begin!
Grab the printable PDF guide here, or keep reading below!
Part I: Meditation and Neck Sequence
All poses are accompanied with links that provide pictures and further explanation of how to do the pose correctly.
To begin, sit with your back straight and legs crossed or tucked under you, whichever feels comfortable. Place your hands gently on your knees and close your eyes in meditation pose. Relax and try to clear your mind, focusing on your breath and becoming aware of your body. Stay in this pose for 15-20 breaths (1 inhale + 1 exhale = 1 breath).
First, let’s work on loosening your neck and shoulders. Do the following, remembering to take deep breaths and move slowly:
- Roll your shoulders forward 8x, and then backward 8x
- Roll your head in gentle circles 4x to the right, then the left. Repeat.
- Tilt your chin toward your chest as far as you can, dropping your shoulders (don’t hunch them!). You should feel a gentle stretch along the top of your spine. Hold for 3-5 breaths. Raise chin towards ceiling. Repeat.
- Stretch your neck to the right and left, holding each stretch for several breaths. You can add a gentle pressure on your head with your hand if you like. (You may feel a pop in your spine, this is normal).
- Lace your hands behind your back and press them outward, drawing your shoulder blades together in a nice squeeze. Hold for 3-5 breaths. Release and bring hands back to knees.
- Shake it out! Move your neck and shoulders in whatever way feels nice.
Part II: Back and Shoulders Sequence
Now that your neck is nice and loose, let’s move on to the rest of the poses, which focus more on the back and shoulders. Remember to breathe deeply and move slowly as you do the poses. Inhale when you move into a pose, and exhale when you move out of the pose. Hold each pose for 3-8 breaths or however long is comfortable.
- Start in a Seated Twist (repeat 2x each side).
- Tuck your legs under you and transition into Cat Cow (repeat 4-6x; for this pose you don’t need to hold it, just move with your breath, moving upward on the inhale and downward on the exhale).
- Sink down onto your heels and stretch your arms forward in Child’s Pose.
- Raise up on your hands and knees again back into Cat Cow (repeat 4-6x).
- Sink back down into Child’s Pose.
- From Child’s Pose, bring your arms behind you and upward and clasp your hands together in Seal Pose. Then, return to child’s pose for few breaths.
- Straighten, sitting up on your knees, and lower yourself to the floor onto your belly to transition into Sphinx Pose.
- Push yourself up into a Cobra Pose. Don’t forget to breathe! (If this is too challenging, remain in Sphinx Pose for a few extra breaths).
- Lower yourself back into Sphinx Pose.
- Slowly move back onto your knees and sink down into Child’s Pose again.
- Come up onto all fours and Thread the Needle on both sides.
- Slowly move to lay on your back. Bring your arms over your head and reach as far as you can with your hands and feet, getting a nice stretch through your whole body. Then take turns hugging one knee and then the other up to your chest in Half Wind Relieving Pose.
- Lay with your palms upward at your sides and close your eyes in Corpse Pose. Remain this way for a few minutes, breathing deeply and relaxing.
You made it! See, I told you it wouldn’t be bad 😉 You should now be feeling relaxed and rejuvenated and ready to start your next writing session! Want a free PDF guide of this routine you can download and print to keep on hand? Click here!
Do you enjoy yoga? How do you relax and refresh yourself between writing sessions?