I officially finished my last yoga painting of the year several days ago; or, so I thought. But then on Saturday something happened that is rare for me: I felt a strong urge to get out my acrylics, a large canvas and madly start painting. Unusual, because I’ve been working exclusively in watercolors for months on end.
Early last year before I had my hysterectomy I was talking with Sue, my friend and yoga instructor. I mentioned how much I would miss my practice and that I was concerned by how much time would pass before I’d be able to start doing even the simplest of stretches again. She gave me a piece of advice: “Even if you can’t physically do yoga, it can be extremely beneficial to imagine yourself doing them in your mind.” I didn’t realize exactly what she meant until after surgery when I could no longer lift to a sitting position without grimacing in pain. I started going through sun salutations in my head, and you know what? It calmed me; I felt focused and more at peace with myself. Yoga after all, is just as much about mind as it is body, right?
Even though I’m back to my regular yoga routine I still envision myself working through poses; now though, it’s at night before I fall asleep. It calms my mind by allowing me to focus on something slow and repetitive. Lately, because I paint every day and always seem to have art on the brain, I picture myself doing these poses as though I’m within one of my paintings. Often, an added benefit to this is that new paintings sometimes emerge from this ritual – that is, if I can still remember it the next morning!
This happened to me on Friday night. Just as I was drifting off I kept envisioning myself surrounded by the brightest colors of teal, fuchsia and yellow swirling around in my head. With it, the phrase: A woman’s place is in the Om. Clever, right? Apparently I thought so, because the following evening I was determined to replicate the image that came to me and worked nearly nonstop over the course of Saturday and Sunday while the snow and temperatures fell outside my studio window.
I did finish it and am quite proud, actually. I really pushed beyond my comfort zone with this one as I feel quite intimidated working on the human form.
Very, very different from my usual style, but just as I try to force myself out of my comfort zone in life, so I must do elsewhere. It’s easy to get comfortable and not want to challenge myself by switching mediums but I realize that if I don’t, just like with anything else – I’ll regress. In this case I’m so happy that I used acrylics over watercolors because it would have been much more difficult to achieve the bold color I wanted.
This painting by the way, is dedicated to Every Woman who either practices yoga or has the desire to. Why I have embraced it so, is because it truly is for every BODY. It’s easy to get caught up in the physical aspect of yoga, believing that only contortionists and gymnastics enthusiasts can do it – but the truth is, it’s not about achieving the hard poses so we can impress others; it’s about the way it connects our body to our mind and spirit that makes it so uniquely special. Since having strained my back several weeks ago (attempting a twist that I should have known was too difficult for me), I have committed this to mind: We’re meant to practice yoga, not perfect it. That thought, along with my lesson to never share my mat with my ego, helps keep me humble and in check.
Have a great Monday. xo