You don’t need to be a professional, or even fledgling, artist to desire some spark in the arena of creativity, but with our busy lives, it is often hard to find the time to be creative and when we do try it can be hard to switch off and let our expressions flow.
Practicing yoga can help to put us back in touch with our creative sides. Here, Christine Burke, author of The Yoga Healer and founder of Liberation Yoga Studios in LA, takes you through three yoga poses that will help to loosen up your creative energy and leave you feeling refreshed and inspired.
Swirling Butterfly Pose (Baddha Konasana)
Sit on the floor, spine straight, knees out to the sides, and the soles of your feet together. Hold your ankles and move your body in circles, beginning clockwise. As you move toward your feet, inhale and let your belly expand. As you move your torso away from your feet, exhale and contract your belly. Swirl for 8 circles in each direction. When finished, hold Butterfly Pose for 5 more breaths, relaxing your belly.
Modification: The expansion and contraction of the belly with the breath is a variation on nauli (turning the abdominal muscles), which is a cleansing yogic exercise (kriya). While it can be very useful for digestion and unblocking energy in the second and third chakras (sacral and solar plexus), if it becomes too tiring or you have trouble with it, just relax into your breath as you move.
Frog Pose (Mandukasana)
For this pose you will need some padding under your knees—a yoga mat plus blankets if necessary.
Come to tabletop position, hands under your shoulders and knees at hip-width. Then come down onto your forearms with your palms flat on the floor. Separate your knees so they are as wide apart as is comfortable, flex your feet and place their inner edges on the floor. Your ankles should be in direct line with your knees, with the feet turned out to the side. If you wish, you can place your hands in prayer position.
Breathe here for a few moments, and if you can’t feel much of a stretch in your inner thighs, groin, and hips, begin to ease your hips back toward your feet, maintaining the alignment of your knees and ankles. Some people may have a more satisfying experience taking the hips slightly forward. Keep your abdomen engaged so your lower back is protected. Your face is toward the floor, or gaze directed slightly ahead, and your shoulders are away from your ears.
Take 5–8 breaths, visualizing as blocks of ice melting any place in the lower body where you feel stuck or tight. Remember that when the ice melts, spring comes and a potpourri of colorful creativity emerges.
To come out of the pose, come onto your hands and slowly bring the legs toward each other with strong inner thighs and a firm abdomen. Once the legs are together, spend a few moments in Child’s Pose with the legs together.
Break of Day Mudra (Ushas Mudra) with Skull Shining (Kapalabhati)
Breath Ushas Mudra, as well as Break of Day, is known as the Origin of Good Things Mudra. It lifts the energy and unleashes creative impulses. It brings the energy from the lower chakras up to the higher chakras and can enhance our ability to experience pleasure.
Sit cross-legged in Sukhasana or Siddhasana or on a chair. Interlace your fingers with the palms facing slightly upward. For women, encircle the right thumb with the left thumb and index finger. For men, encircle the left thumb with the right thumb and index finger. Relax your shoulders, bend your elbows, and hold the mudra just below your navel and a few inches from your body.
Begin your Skull Shining Breath, by inhaling fully through your nose and exhaling through your mouth. On your next inhale, stop short of a full breath and exhale through your nose with a forceful blow as your abdomen engages toward your navel. Let your inhale naturally follow. The focus is on the exhale, which comes from the action of the belly pulling in. The inhale is a slow, natural reaction to the force of the exhale. Both breaths are done through the nose.
Practice 1–3 rounds of Skull Shining Breath. When you are finished, sit quietly with the mudra and enjoy the spark of inspiration that is the light of your creativity shining from within.
For more yoga poses and techniques, check out The Yoga Healer by Christine Burke.