Love writing and yoga? Do both this weekend, May 1st, with Elissa Lewis and me at our Writing and Yoga Workshop! The workshop will be held the first Sunday of every month at the beautiful Sacred Sounds Yoga studio in Greenwich Village, NYC. We’ll guide you through yoga postures and writing exercises to relax and open your mind and body. All genres, styles, and levels are welcome. To register and for more information, you can go here. And if you feel so inclined, take a look at our Facebook Invite and feel free to spread the word. Thank you!
April 3rd is the first monthly Yoga and Writing Workshop, The Bridge Between Writing & Yoga, with me and Elissa Lewis at Sacred Sounds Yoga in lovely Greenwich Village, NYC! Come stretch, meditate, write, and explore with us on first Sunday of every month, 1:30-4:00 PM.
Register here: http://www.sacredsoundsyoga.com/workshops/
Our description from the website–
This monthly workshop, held on the first Sunday of every month, conjures the bridge between yoga and writing. Yoga and meditation practice peels back the layers of experience, allowing you to note the movements of the mind and body. This kind of mindfulness roots you to the present and returns you to your authentic voice. As writers, we must know our own voices first in order to know the voices of our characters and speakers.Transcendentalists, Surrealists, Beats, and many other writing collectives all used meditation, dreams, and/or other states of altered consciousness to support their creative work. Expect to be taken on a journey.
Elissa, artist and 500-hour certified yoga teacher, will guide you using yin and restorative yoga, using gravity to unwind tension in the deep muscles. She will interrupt your daily routine through mindfulness meditation and breathwork. Jessica, writing professor, 200-hour certified Kripalu yoga teacher, and Romani (‘Gypsy’) tarot/palm reader and healer, will stir you to write from that place of enriched-awareness, using writing exercises to help you navigate the action of a piece, sensory details, cliche-shattering metaphor, and character/speaker development.
This workshop is intended for all writers and yogis from all backgrounds and levels of experience, from playwrights to sci-fi enthusiasts, feminist poets to romance novelists, memoirists to academics– we welcome everyone. We only ask that you come with an open heart and an open mind. We are fostering a community of mutual respect and a safe space to share the words you create in class and an opportunity to receive constructive feedback from your instructors and peers.
Cost: $30 in advance / $35 on day of
Do you like free yoga? Aromatherapy yoga? How about I give you a tarot reading? Would you like a mini-channeling session with Igor? Are you a fan of juice and kombucha? Into DIY? Ever wonder what your aura looks like? If you answered yes to any of these, come on over to Brooklyn’s Family of Light Holistic Center in Ditmas Park on 1/17 and enjoy the open house! We want to reach out to the community and have a lovely day. It’s one of my very favorite places in the city, and I bet you’ll love it too. Plus you can pick up some beautiful crystals, mala beads, and other jewelry in the gift shop. Check out the poster for more details. Hope to see you! *Wink*
I can’t wait to start my new Aromatherapy Yoga class at Family of Light Holistic Center in Brooklyn. Thursday nights, 7:30-9:00, I’ll be guiding the class through asana, meditation, breathwork, and the senses using doTERRA essential oils for a relaxing and invigorating practice. I’m so excited to be part of this gorgeous community of healers, yoga practitioners, and artists. I’m also excited to say that I’m available for private yoga lessons, readings (tarot, tea leaf, and palm), energy healing (traditional Romani and Reiki Master fusion), and creative consulting.
Ederlezi, the Romani (Gypsy) Spring Festival, is one of my very favorite holidays. It’s celebrated with dancing, eating, singing a hauntingly beautiful folk song, and literally throwing flowers everywhere. Flowers in your house, flowers on your lawn, flowers in the river, flowers in the sea…. How could anyone not love this?
My favorite rendition of the Ederlezi folksong is performed by Tatiana Eva Marie of the Avalon Jazz Band. I was lucky enough to conduct an interview with the very smart and talented Tatiana in Quail Bell Magazine.
Another exciting Quail Bell surprise just in time for the holiday– Rita Banjerjee’s mistranslation poems were just released, including one poem inspired by my lackluster performance of Ederlezi at our last Cambridge Writers’ Workshop Writing & Yoga Retreat in France. Speaking of which, the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop summer retreat deadlines for both Paris and Granada have been extended to May 25th. So Baxtalo Ederlezi! Have a beautiful and fortune-blessed Spring– hope to see you this summer!
Join the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop on our summer writing retreat to the cultural oasis of Granada, Spain. Located at the foot of the Sierra Nevada mountains in Andalucía, Granada is one of the gems of Spain and has inspired writers from Washington Irving to Salman Rushdie to Ali Smith. Let the old city stimulate your writing with its winding streets, Moorish history, and evocative landscapes. Or, indulge in delicious Andalucían cuisine and traditional Arab baths. Work with world-renowned authors on your manuscript, or look to the beauty and warmth of Granada to inspire all-new projects.
Our Andalucían writing retreat will feature twice-daily lessons or workshops with both CWW faculty and famed writers who will focus on strengthening your craft. Our lodgings in Granada have room for private as well as group writing, allowing you to take advantage of the unique atmosphere to concentrate and convene with your fellow writers. The exclusive boutique-style accommodations with alluring rooms and expressive architecture offer a calm and relaxing environment.
In addition to workshops and lessons, daily yoga lessons help soothe the mind and body by creating opportunities for personal exploration and inspiration. Taught by CWW’s very talented yoga instructor Elissa Lewis, our yoga classes focus on both the structural and spiritual and can be personalized according to any physical demands you may have.
Our Andalucían writing retreat will take place from August 3-10, 2015, and cost of the workshop is $2950, which includes lodging, craft of writing seminars and writing workshops, yoga classes, room cleaning, and breakfast.
The retreat location places you within close distance to the best of Granada, including the majestic Alhambra and the historic Moorish quarter the Albaicín. Granada is well-connected to the rest of Andalucía through public transportation, should you wish to explore the Costa del Sol, the Alpujarras mountains, or nearby Sevilla and Córdoba. Or, soak up all that Granada has to offer and enjoy tapas bars, Moroccan tea rooms, or flamenco.
What Happens After I apply?
Once you apply, you can expect to hear from us within 7-10 days and know whether you were accepted into the program. Once you are accepted, you will receive a welcome packet with detailed information regarding the program.
What is the process of paying tuition?
Once you are accepted into the program, you will need to pay a 30% tuition deposit ($885) to hold your seat within 3-5 days of acceptance but not later than April 30, 2015. The remainder of tuition ($2065) will be due by May 5, 2015. Our standard and preferred method of payment is PayPal invoice. You can also mail us a check. Please note that the deposit is non-refundable after May 5, 2015.
What is included in tuition?
-lodging in central Granada
-creative writing workshops
-craft of writing seminars
-one-on-one manuscript consultation
-daily yoga and meditation classes
Where will the program be held?
The program will be held at Gar Anat Hotel Boutique (http://hotelgaranat.com/?lang=en), Placeta de los Peregrines 1, 18009 Granada, Spain.
What if the deadline has passed? Can I still apply?
Sometimes, we do have spaces open after our deadlines have passed. Please apply or just email us directly at directors[at]cambridgewritersworkshop.org to check whether there is still availability.
Application Deadline: May 1, 2015
Also, bonus excitement, I’ll be offering fortune telling and energy healing (Reiki) sessions, and Diana Norma Szokolyai will be offering aromatherapy.
Can’t say how excited I am about The Great Gatsby-esque Cambridge Writers’ Workshop Newport, RI Writing and Yoga Retreat on April 2-5, 2015. Not able to make the whole weekend? Partial attendance is fine, too. Special tuition rates may also be available to students. Kathleen Spivack, Stephen Aubrey, Diana Norma Szokolyai, and Rita Banerjee will be teaching writing classes, and Elissa Lewis will be teaching yoga. I’ll be telling fortunes and offering energy healing (Reiki) sessions because that’s the kind of girl I am.
The deadline for admittance into this AMAZING retreat is February 20, 2015. There are limited seats, so apply early!
Quail Bell Magazine was so sweet to make this announcement that I’m teaching writing workshops this summer in France on the Yoga & Writing Retreat at the Château de Verderonne, France (Aug 7-20, 2014. I’m so honored to be teaching alongside Cambridge Writers’ Workshop superstars Elissa Joi Lewis, Rita Banerjee, and Diana Norma Szokolyai (recently one of VIDA’s “20 Gypsy Women You Should Be Reading”). They are all so talented, smart, and divinely sweet. And I’m wildly excited that I’m teaching “Yearning & Character Motivation” and “Magic & Trauma– Writing from the Unconscious,” and there are a bunch more awesome writing workshops on the schedule including writing workshops, craft talks, art classes, adventures to Paris & Chantilly, and yoga twice a day. In France. A couple of spots have opened so apply ASAP or by July 15th.
If you’re an artist or writer and you’re feeling a little tapped out, check out this Quail Bell Magazine essay/interview “The Symbiotic Magic of Yoga and Writing: Retreat, Ritual, and a Chat with the Women of the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop” about the benefits of practicing yoga alongside your writing practice and the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop Summer Yoga & Writing Retreat at the Château de Verderonne, France. Although the CWW has marked the retreat application deadline as May 15th, admissions are rolling until filled and there are still a few spaces. Apply A.S.A.P.
Some quotes from “The Symbiotic Magic of Yoga and Writing“–
Robert Olen Butler, Pulitzer Prize winner and author of The Christopher Marlowe Cobb Thriller Series, argues that ritual is the key to creating art. In From Where You Dream: the process of writing fiction, he explains that you must prepare for writing by entering a trance and focusing on the breath in a quiet space, much like the centering meditation of a yoga class. Once you’re there and centered, you must stay present with sensation and allow yourself to create directly and organically from that “dream space.” Like in yoga, you set an intention to stay open to all experience and at the same time, remain unattached to ideas, hence the popular mantra, “I am not my mind.” Butler writes that the best art comes from this “moment to moment sensual experience,” and “non-art” is full of summarized or intellectualized reported experience.
Those “moment to moment sensory experience[s]” are much more nuanced than you’d think—all the available senses are involved. In my Yoga Teacher Training at Kripalu, I learned that the body holds memories, a phenomenon addressed in the study of somatics, a branch of psychology that examines the mind-body connection. In certain poses, you may feel spontaneously happy, sad, angry, frightened, blissful—you may be flooded with memories, sensations, and epiphanies. You may weep or laugh without knowing why (or knowing all too well why). Stay with present if you can: breathe, relax, feel, watch, allow (or BRFWA). Your body is releasing trapped energy, memories, and emotions—parts of your past that you have been carrying unconsciously, perhaps as tension, shortness of breath, pain, or anxiety. What does the experience feel like, smell like, look like, sound like, and taste like? The information you need to have a cathartic experience is the same information you need to create one on the page. Butler argues that in order to make art, we have to dive into the unconscious mind, confront whatever pain dwells there, and use that intense awareness to write from the “white hot center.” This is just another way to access the unconscious.
Jessica: What are some of your favorite yoga poses, breathing exercises, and/or meditations for stimulating (or sustaining) creativity?
Elissa: To increase creativity and flow, hip-openers like Pigeon pose and Lizard pose (Uttan Pristhasana) are my favorite. When you release tension in your hips, you also release the emotions that come bubbling up. The hips and pelvis are related to the Svadisthana chakra and the water element which governs the area of creation and creativity. These postures help clear writer’s block by encouraging creative energy to flow without over-efforting.
Also, Nadi Shodana pranayama (also called alternate nostril breathing) is a wonderful breathing technique to begin or complete your practice and is appropriate for anyone. It stimulates a daydream-like state, where our senses draw in (called pratyahara) and we can disengage from the external world. It helps us develop the focus and concentration needed in meditation. I think any meditation that works for you is excellent. Meditation is the key to open the mind to inspired creative thought. It brings you back to yourself, to moments of truth, without mind chatter, self-criticism and self-consciousness.
Jessica: How does community support your yoga practice and/or artistic practice?
Norma: The image of the solitary writer is deeply rooted in the romanticized myth of the lone, genius writer. In truth, most great writers were part of communities comprised of other writers, intellectuals, and artists that inspired each other. Many great literary movements and unforgettable manifestos came out of the collaboration of such communities of writers….In addition to encouragement, support, and critical feedback, I think one of the most powerful things a community can offer a writer is accountability. If you know that people are counting on you, then you are more likely to follow through. Whether your goals are short term or long term, a community can hold you to your word.
Of course, the same principles apply to a community supporting one’s yoga practice.
For the rest of the essay/interview: http://www.quailbellmagazine.com/the-real/essay-the-symbiotic-magic-of-yoga-and-writing
If you want to read more about the importance of cultivating a community, check out Rita and Norma’s interview with VIDA & HERKIND “Community as Catharsis: A Conversation with Rita Banerjee & Diana Norma Szokolyai”