Showing posts with label Yoga for writers. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Yoga for writers. Show all posts

Early Lessons in the Yoga of Writing


Effort and Surrender and Writing


A personal yoga lesson, writing lesson, and review
by Carolyn Howard-Johnson



Yoga simply is. Like life. Like love. Like Writing. When we do it we may also connect. Eric Dinyer’s ethereal photographs in his Effort and Surrender published by Andrews McMeel, are aged like a Sienna landscape. They could easily be the route a beginner or a yoga sage might take to the next step. Or a writer takes to get creative juices started or to keep the I’m Not Good Enough Syndrome at bay. 

Way back in 2004 Eric asked me to write the foreword for this little treasure. 
An author-illustrator-photographer Dinyer has worked in the entertainment, music, and publishing industries with creative giants like Time-Warner Books, Columbia Records, Viking Penguin, St. Martin's Press, Doubleday, and Scholastic, as well as in publications such as Harper's, Newsweek, and the New York Times Book Review. He created cover images for Bruce Springsteen and Sting and illustrated The Breathing Field: Meditations on Yoga. And his request forced me to revisit my early experiences with yoga and I’m retelling a bit of it from the foreword for you so my writing fellows will understand why I think writers should give it a try, if they aren’t already in love with it..

I have been doing yoga since by brother directed me in a few poses.  I lay on a delicate patterned Oriental carpet before a fire in my mother’s home; he pointed my limbs in the proper directions.

            “Hatha Yoga” my brother said, “just poses…” He knew my atheistic tendencies.

            So, I did “poses only” until I saw light and knew.

            That was my only lesson.   

My yoga instructor did not believe that yoga should be uncomfortable or difficult but joyful. “Ignore those who say ‘No pain, no gain,’” he said.  “Stretch until it feels good.  Breathe until it feels better.”

Some poses came naturally. I have long muscles with little structure. Working them is like stretching warm Play-Doh. Dinyer’s photos of poses like The Plow are difficult for some but were easy for me. At 63 I was still doing that extension with variations, knees touching the floor above my head. Some poses like The Airplane he illustrates impart balance. My ability to do them improved as I practiced, mostly without my perceiving the changes because yoga benefits deliberately, leisurely.Some, like the Crane Posture require strength. I do not expect ever to achieve them.

Having said that, it does not matter to me. Yoga is not a contest with others nor with myself. I’m like that with writing, too. If practiced, it will progress. I eventually—perhaps after ten or twelve years—read (nay digested) Paramahansa Yogananda’s teachings but only when I was ready. His book materialized in the reading pile next to my bed. I still don’t know how that small volume came to be there.

I did not take expensive lessons, use special equipment, buy a Zen wardrobe or even set goals. All one needs for Yoga is willingness. I admit I ended up spending more money on things like writing classes, writers’ conferences, and reading, reading, reading on anything one needed for that like marketing. But I worked in breathing to increase the joy factor. I think it worked. I even wrote a poem about it:


Yoga is life.

                                    We see its splendor if we look

                                    Know its challenges when we choose to know

                                    Its comforts when we acknowledge them

                                    Recognize pain as a companion

                                    From whom we can learn or turn away

                                    It can quiet like the curve

                                    Of an egg in a bowl.

                                    It can be personal as a pulse

Or connect like a current.

                                    Life.  We select its ecstasies.


Such inspiration will surely move reader whether they choose Effort or Surrender or Writing—or all three. Yoga and writing is in the doing. Yoga and writing are very simply, life. 


 Carolyn Howard-Johnson is the multi award-winning author of fiction, creative nonfiction, and poetry. She is also a marketing consultant, editor, and author of the multi award-winning #HowToDoItFrugally Series ( ) of books for writers including "The Frugal Book Promoter" (, and "The Frugal Editor" both offered in their third editions by Modern History Press. Others in that series are "How to Get Great Book Reviews Frugally and Ethically," and two booklets, both in their second editions also from Modern History Press. The booklets, "Great Little Last Minute Editing Tips for Writers" ( and "Great First Impression Book Proposals" ( are career boosters in mini doses and both make ideal thank you gifts for authors. The one on writing book proposals is also available as an Audio Book. "The Frugal Editor "(, was recently released in its third edition. It is the winningest book in this series for writers.  

Carolyn also has three frugal books for retailers including one she encourages authors to read because it helps them understand what is needed to convince retailers to host their workshops, presentations, and signings. It is "A Retailer’s Guide to Frugal In-Store Promotions: How To Increase Profits and Spit in the Eyes of Economic Downturns with Thrifty Events and Sales Techniques" ( In addition to this blog, Carolyn helps writers extend the exposure of their favorite reviews at She also blogs all things editing--grammar, formatting and more--at "The Frugal, Smart, and Tuned-In Editor" ( Learn more and follow it to get news on her new releases directly from Amazon at

Yoga for Writers

As each of us knows all too well, sitting ourselves down in the chair and working is the only way to find success as writers. Unfortunately that process can also lead to some aches and pains, not only emotionally, but physically, as we hunch over our computers sitting on chairs that may or may not be comfortable.

That's why this month I decided to team up with Janna, from YOGA Joy to discuss how to keep flexible during those long writing periods where the muse is being particularly helpful and our bodies are taking the toll.

"Incorporating yoga stretches at work is particularly important for people whose jobs require them to sit at a desk in front of a computer for long hours. The following stretches can help with neck and back strain and increase flexibility of the fingers and hands," says Jana (RYT).

1. Head & Neck
Keep your shoulders relaxed, inhale and then let your chin drop to your chest from its neutral position, breathe and hold for 3-5 seconds. Lift your head back up to neutral while inhaling and then exhale and turn your head left, breathe and hold, then turn head right, hold and breathe. Inhale and return to neutral, exhale and move left ear toward left shoulder. Keep breathing for 3-5 seconds. Inhale return to neutral and then shift to move right ear toward the right shoulder.

2. Seated Cat-Cow Stretch
Bring both feet flat on the floor. Bring your hands to your knees. On an inhale, tip the tailbone up and arch the back while gazing up - make sure to keep your neck straight. On the exhale, round the spine and shoulders while tipping the chin toward the collar bone. Repeat for 3-5 breaths.

3. Seated Spinal Twist
Turn to sit sideways in the chair. Bring both feet flat on the floor. Inhale and lengthen your spine and then rotate towards the back of the chair. Relax shoulders and take 3-5 breaths before doing the same thing on the other side.

4. Seated Warrior I
Sit on the front edge of a chair. Straighten your spine. Inhale and turn to the right, straighten your left leg behind you while bending your right knee. Place both hands on the bent knee and find your balance. Then when ready lift your arms. Hold for 3-5 breaths.

5. Wrist and Hand Stretch
Rotate hands to the outside of your body so that the wrists face the computer and the fingers face the edge of the desk. Gently lean into the wrists and flatten palms as much as possible. Then open palms and spread fingers. Begin curling pinkie, then ring finger and continue until thumb is curled into a fist. Repeat to relax muscles. Gently fist hands and circle wrists one direction and then the opposite way. 

Take the time to stretch and then enjoy the rest of your writing day!

D. Jean Quarles is a writer of Women's Fiction and a co-author of a Young Adult Science Fiction Series. Her latest book, House of Glass, Book 2 of The Exodus Series was written with coauthor, Austine Etcheverry.
D. Jean loves to tell stories of personal growth – where success has nothing to do with money or fame, but of living life to the fullest. She is also the author of the novels: Rocky's Mountains, Fire in the Hole, and Perception. The Mermaid, an award winning short story was published in the anthology, Tales from a Sweltering City.                                                                                              She is a wife, mother, grandmother and business coach. In her free time . . . ha! ha! ha! Anyway, you can find more about D. Jean Quarles, her writing and her books at her website at                                       You can also follower her at or on Facebook.

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