Kat Farrants, founder of Movement for Modern Life, on how yoga helps creativity.
We’ve all had writer’s block. Or a creative block. Sometimes we don’t even know that we need creativity, but we feel a little ‘stuck’. However, we can all learn from the yogic lesson of letting go and moving on.
What is yoga? It’s making shapes on a sticky plastic mat, I hear you cry. Well, yes it is – that certainly can be one version of yoga. Making the shapes is a key part of it, as seen in yoga studios and gyms worldwide, and the shapes, or ‘asana’, have been a key part in getting me into the practice of yoga. But by far the most interesting thing for me in my yoga journey, and the reason why I decided to quit my job in the city as a lawyer and share the healing power of yoga, was finding out what a useful tool it is in transforming how I feel and how I’m able to be in the world.
I always thought that yoga was a tool to help with flexibility and strength, and to develop some gymnastic-type skills. I practiced gleefully in this way for over a decade, just focusing on the physical benefits (of which there are many), but it wasn’t until I was in a car crash, and soon after that, my husband left me out of the blue, that I found what a healing process yoga can be. The real benefit of yoga is the ability to heal past wounds, both physical and mental, and that was the release that enabled me to live my best life. Yoga really was an essential tool in my kit for helping me to let go of the past and to move on – the ability to do this, I think, is the most essential part of life for anyone. Letting go is a matter of being able to live fully in the present and embrace the gold which lies in every single moment of every single blessed day. Letting go is what each of us finds so tricky in every moment. We all want to ruminate on those wonderful moments we’ve had, or perhaps we’d rather linger on the things we wish we’d said, or the things that others said to us. It’s hard to travel through life without baggage, as each of us accumulates thousands of moments of feelings, thoughts and stories we tell ourselves and each other about the nature of the world. After all, our entire perception of life is constructed from our inner narrative, or, the voice in our head. And that voice is the voice of the past, that’s the part that we need to start to learn to let go of, because if we don’t, and if we hang on to it, we’ll never be able to move on.
Moving on is the ability to recognise opportunity and see that movement forward is the only essential action in life. After all, if you’re not going forward, where are you going? We can’t all look back to the times we were wronged, or the happy times we shared. It is vital to our mental health and our survival to look to the future and see the world as it is right now, not through the stories of the past.
For me, the action of letting go and moving on is fundamental to the processes of creativity. All of us are creative in some way, yes, even those of us who don’t see ourselves as being so. Unlocking that creativity really does make us fully human. Creativity is the ability to see things in a different way, to become ‘unstuck’. Writer’s block, or the feeling where we just can’t move forward, is a classic inability to let go, which every one of us can suffer from. But, once we have that amazingly beautiful ability to release the past stories and patterns, and to move freely into the world, that is the start of living a creative life in the here and now.
I do think that most of us would benefit so much by finding practices which help us to move out of our normal patterns, see life differently and move consciously, in a more awake way, into the next second and the next moment of our lives. After all, the art of living is moving through transitions – there’s never a beginning, middle or end, it’s all one transition, and that’s yoga. On the yoga mat, perhaps as you start to move through the poses, you’ll find the movement through shapes becomes the art of becoming mindfully aware of the potency of transitions. This is the sacred art of letting go, moving on and living your most creative life.
Kat Farrants is founder of Movement for Modern Life, the UK’s online yoga and wellbeing platform