Thursday, March 22, 2012

Yin Yoga

First, a note about the future of this blog. As some of you know, I started this blog as part of a class I was teaching this past winter: "Living Writers: Online Writing as Literature." It was both one of the hardest and one of the most delightful classes I've ever taught. The students made blogs ranging from life in the roller derby to living in a "kinship family" to the hilarious reality of being a college student. One student wrote about being a trans lady while another wrote about wanting to be a dinosaur when she grew up. These are just a few of the many blogs I had the pleasure to witness during the last three months.

I started this blog because I'm a firm believer in making yourself go through whatever torture you're inflicting on your students. I had never blogged before (begging the question, "so, um, why are you teaching a class about blogging?" Chalk it up to a moment of unbridled enthusiasm). I knew only that I was increasingly drawn to the writing I was seeing unfold online, and I wanted a reason to participate.

And so I have. And so I've come to love it. I love the discipline of posting three times a week. I love the way a blog post will unfurl in my mind while walking the dog. I love the community that has expanded way beyond my expectations. Thank YOU, dear reader.

Now the class is over, the grades are in (have you ever tried "grading" a blog? It's not something I recommend...), and I'm left with me and my little blog, trying to decide the best way to continue.

What do you think, folks? What are your favorite types of posts? More about writing? about yoga? about dogs? about food? What days do you like to read blogs?

I will probably cut back on my posting to once a week (unless I feel inspired at odd moments). Fridays will most likely win out as posting day, since I'll have Fridays technically "off" from work (if I can ever figure out how to be really "off" from work).

 And with that, the gist of this post: yin yoga.

I felt like I worked harder than I've ever worked before this past quarter. In addition to teaching a new class, I also taught another full writing class, and worked my new job as Director of Graduate Studies. We conducted two job searches, and I had two books to shepherd into being, proposals to write, laundry to do, garbage to take out, etc. etc.

Yesterday, spring break began. Yesterday I took a breath.  And in that breath, I felt vulnerability flood through my body. An ache that makes your heart tweak. An openness that scares you. A trembling in your upper arms. A twinge behind your eyes.

This is what happens in yin yoga. In yin yoga, you hold a pose for a long time, maybe 5 minutes, maybe 10. You breathe deep and settle in. You find your edge. You surrender and let the body do its own yoga for a while. The connective tissue stretches. The body unwinds, unravels. Your teacher tells you stories to keep your mind out of it.

And then you slowly come out of the pose. Your limbs remember they are part of you. And a vulnerable ache will often bloom there, right where you opened up.

It passes. You go on to the next pose. But you remember it, deep in your cells. You remember the space that exists there, below the level of bone and flesh. It beguiles and scares you at the same time.

This is the consequence of opening. 

My work often feels like this. As if I've been holding a pose for a long time, pressing myself to the edge without quite being aware of it. It's only when I stop do I realize how deep I've gone. And when I come back to myself, it can be a little scary, as if I don't recognize this self that has returned.

I have to be gentle with myself. Move slowly. Resist the urge to create work in order to avoid this vulnerable space. Just breathe. Look up. Go out on the deck. Walk the dog in this air that is bright, but still cold. Notice. Simply notice that I am back in the world, and say, "Welcome."


  1. What a lovely post. I'm finding that my schedule is such that I work long hours at the beginning of the week just so that I can have a little time for my own writing towards the end of the week. The problem is that it takes me half a day to unwind from my paying gig until I reach a place that I can actually fully engage with my writing self. I'm writing a little each night, but my dream of having a couple days each week to write, fading. When I unfurl from holding my "day gig" pose, I suddenly see everything that I missed at the beginning of the week. I need to refine the way I allocate my time.

    Personally, I love the writing on this blog about writing and yoga and meditation, and introspection. Hope you won't give it up altogether.

    take care,

    1. Thank you Erin! I always look forward to all your posts and you were really a beacon as a began the blog course.

  2. Hi Brenda,

    Glad you are continuing the blog! As a writer, yoga practitioner, and teacher, all of your posts are interesting and relevant to me. I particularly enjoy finding out how yoga, teaching, and writing intersect for you, though. And wish we had a yin yoga class in my community!

    1. Thank you Lara! yes, yin yoga can be divine...

  3. Thank you so much for posting this. Your words made me take a deep breath and release some tension in my shoulders.

    I hadn't known about the genesis of your blog, but I admire it. "The consequence of opening" your blog, I believe, is that you now have another window or lens to your writing, and another way to reach an audience. I so hope you'll continue. I think the focus on the parasympathetic-inducing behaviors is a great corrective to the rest of life's tugs.

    I find blogging a way to create recreationally, if that makes sense, and I've had several poems come out of thoughts that began life as blog posts.

    1. Thank you Ela! I love thinking of blogging as a way to "create recreationally." That really nails it!

  4. Brenda, I have loved your blog from the start and would be so disappointed if you didn't find some way of continuing it, even if it were less frequently. (But hey, no pressure! I can tell from this post that you are not nearly busy enough :) I have been so moved and inspired and amused by the posts -- especially enjoying and learning from the pieces on writing and on community and on your past experiences, and laughing out loud at sweet funny animals. I'm also very excited about your two books, whose debuts I've shared with other friends. Finally, I hope your students know how lucky they are!


    Gretel Wandesforde-Smith

  5. Please, please, please keep blogging. I look forward every weekend to catching up with you and your insights and connections to life. Sometimes I'm flying too high and too fast to slow down. But you make me slow down, take a breath, and listen to the world and to my own body. Thank you for this blog. I love all of it

  6. I am glad that you'll keep blogging! I enjoy reading your posts--especially about yoga and writing.
    I hope that this new quarter treats you well.


    1. Thanks Chelsea! Hope you're enjoying life post college!

    2. +! I'm glad you're still at it :) You really took to the blogging community like a boss. The past couple weeks have a really big getting-more-in-touch-with-myself-and-beliefs period of time. It's nice to see someone else doing the same--even writing about it!

      Take care :)

  7. Brenda,
    Thanks for the shout out! I took a "spring break" from my blog, but I am back and I think having a few of us (You, Chelsea, Jack) continue will help keep me accountable much like the class did.

    Thanks for following my blog and PLEASE PLEASE comment, I feel like the comments have all but disappeared since class ended.


What say you?