We’ve all experienced it. You wake with a stiff neck or at the end of a day your shoulders ache or your back feels weak. As artists we are often on our feet all day working and sometimes we tense up without realizing it. We’re absorbed in the moment and likely oblivious to our posture. I am dealing with an injury to my rotator cuff from lugging portfolios, display stands, and materials to and from vehicles at an art fair. I didn’t feel anything when it happened but that evening my shoulder was sore and continued to get increasingly painful each day. I’m on the mend but have taken it as a warning to really think about my movements.
So when this card for “52 Ways to Nurture Your Creativity” came up in the draw for this month’s post from that set I was especially in tune to what it had to say.
“Stretch Yourself – Loosen your limbs and reap the benefits of a loosened flow of creativity. Well, no guarantees, but it’s certainly a way to keep your neck, legs and back from cramping up every time you grip that paintbrush till your knuckles turn white. If you don’t have time for a yoga class, stretch by yourself slowly and gently. Lie on the floor and tense and then relax different muscle groups. Don’t forget to breathe regularly as you do this.” – Lynn Gordon “52 Ways to Nurture Your Creativity”
I have been an on again, off again Yoga and Pilates participant using DVD’s as instruction rather than an actual class. It hasn’t hurt either that my best friend is a certified Yoga instructor and has given me, and my husband, pointers and led us through routines periodically. But I have been slack in making the time each morning to pursue the relaxing and restorative routines of either for several months. For close to two years my husband and I completed a 30 minute Yoga routine every morning. This year we’ve substituted reading for that time. Both are necessary.
We need the physical stretching of our bodies and the centering of meditation as well as the feeding of our minds with something other than work or, heaven forbid, time in front of the ‘boob tube’. After reading Neil Postman‘s Amusing Ourselves to Death earlier this year I’ve inclined to step away from the computer and television and spend more time in ‘real time’. I find that time spent reflecting on the beauty around me (I live in the wonderful, old Appalachian mountains) is more rewarding than Facebook, G+, TV Sitcoms, HGTV, or other electronic ‘interactions’. Reading and exercise are ways to enhance our health and revitalize our spirits.
So as you go through your day don’t forget to stretch yourself instead of becoming a stress ridden bundle. And if, like me, you hesitate to take the time away from the studio for the drive to and from a class set up a yoga spot nearby. There are some excellent instructional DVD’s but remember to start our slowly and, as all those exercising ads say – ‘Consult your doctor to make sure you are healthy enough for such activity.”
If you are, like myself and most artists, working on a shoe-string budget you can find Rodney Yee instruction on You Tube as well. Research instruction in both but be sure to start slowly and allow yourself to gradually advance or simply stay with the beginning exercises to sustain flexibility. I’ve also found some Pilates routines beneficial since I’ve had two back surgeries for a ruptured disc. Stretch yourself but do so in a way that’s beneficial and not harmful to your body.
We may never be able to execute the Natarajasana Pose but even the simpler poses and movements can offer physical and mental flexibility.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to go stretch.