7 Genius Stretches to Awaken Creativity When You’re in a Rut
Maybe you take the perfect #Winestagram without even trying. Perhaps making DIY pom pom pillows to upgrade your bedding ain’t no thang. But if you’re like the rest of us mere mortals, sometimes it doesn’t hurt to have a little expert help to boost your creativity. That’s why we reached out to top yoga instructors for their best moves to evoke some seriously beautiful inspiration. Read on, and maybe you’ll even draw up one of these totally zen yoga tattoos after, using your newly found imaginative flow.
1. Move out of the “box.” A simple but possible concept.”When [your lower abdomen and pelvic area] is tight or constricted, creative inspiration ebbs. Modern living can add to this blockage; repetitive movements, walking, sitting, even exercises like biking reinforce a rigid linear body profile,” says Diane West, Yoga Instructor at Mohonk Mountain House, a luxury resort and spa in New York’s idyllic Hudson Valley. “Think of keeping your body within the outline of a box; you can move forward or back but not much else. Yoga poses that open the hips can help you move ‘out of the box,’ physically and spiritually.” Grabbing hold of your waist with feet planted about shoulder distance apart, thrust your hips forward and hold for at least 10 seconds as you gently bend backwards. Returning to center, reach your left hand over your head and stretch to the right for five or so seconds, and repeat with your right hand. This will help open your joints and alleviate physical and emotional tension.
2. Banish mental fog by taking a seat. No, not hunched over your laptop at your desk, ladies. Rather, if you’re encountering mental blockage, try sitting in “easy seated pose” (also known as “Shkhasana”). “To perform, sit up straight, extend your legs in front of your body, then cross your legs in front of you at your shins. Then, place each foot beneath the opposite knee and place your hands on your knees, palms down. Breath in and out through your nose and close your eyes for one to three minutes,” shares Alexa Maytorena, an instructor at TruFusion in Las Vegas, Nevada. “This simple pose allows one to focus a scattered mind, and once the mind is calm, creative thoughts can flow through.”
3. Try reclined bound-ankle pose. Yogis call it Supta Bada Konasana; we just call it a brilliant way to unleash those inspirational juices. “Lie on your back with knees bent, feet on the floor. Bring the soles of your feet together and let the knees fall open to the sides so the legs make a diamond shape. Rest your arms alongside your body or place left hand on your heart and right hand on your belly. Hold the pose for two to five minutes, breathing smoothly,” suggests Rebecca Weible, Director and Founder of Yo Yoga! in New York City. West adds: “Allow gravity to assist in relaxing the hip flexors and relieving tension in the lower back area. So how does it help invoke a burst of innovation and originality? “This restorative pose provides hip opening, which can help alleviate stress — creativity’s nemesis. Additionally, taking a few minutes to relax and focus on your breath promotes clarity of thought,” Weible comments.
4. Try this imagination-sparking sequence. “Think of this as a series to do as a work break as opposed to three separate moves. I love the idea of moving and releasing to make room in your body and mind for more creative endeavors. Just like your body, your thoughts can get ‘stuck,’ so try these moves to restore focus, breath and, of course, creativity,” explains Rupa Mehta of The Nalini Method. “A) Rag Doll. By bending at the waist and folding over, you’re figuratively dumping the unproductive energy toward the floor! And, more literally, sitting for a long time can crunch your spine and posture, decreasing blood flow to the brain. So fold over, breathe deep, and elongate. B) Warrior 3. After you roll up from Rag Doll, having released any stress or stuck energy, it’s time to focus. Balance is a great way to connect strength with intention and purpose. While you hold this pose (for as long as is comfortable), try to keep a singular focus. This exercise will carry over to your work and help you to be present, so you don’t get distracted from your creativity! C) Seated Diamond Stretch. The intention here is to foster new ideas. Out with the old and in with the new! Sit comfortably on the floor with your feet touching and knees open in a diamond. Press your elbows into your knees to deepen the stretch and sit with breath and meditation in mind. I like this for creativity more than ‘easy pose,’ because it offers a manageable challenge or discomfort, as many creative endeavors need to succeed,” offers Mehta.
5. Strike a bridge pose. Channel that inner Madonna and get physical in this one, girls. “Start by lying on your back with knees bent hip distance apart, and arms by your side with palms facing down. Use your leg strength and ground down through both heels to lift your hips up, pressing down through both palms,” says Maytorena. “Keep your core engaged by pulling navel into spine to support your back muscles. This move boosts creativity because it stimulates the adrenals which help to energize and motivate us.”
6. Enjoy some quality time in Goddess pose. This pose is accessible to most people and an easy setup: “It is not a static pose and therefore a good way to get started. Step your feet wide, turn your toes out, and sink your hips far enough to bring each knee over its corresponding ankle. Place your hands on your thighs and draw your tailbone down as the pelvis lifts. Breathe deeply and move side to side, shifting your weight back and forth. You can bend your arms at the elbows like goal posts, palms facing forward. As you move you may feel yourself sink deeper,” offers West. “Lower back issues and tight hips are common issues for many people (including spa guests). Gentle hip openers can counteract the effects of sitting for prolonged periods and allow creativity to flow.”
7. Try “Lion’s breath.” You don’t even need to be at the gym or on a yoga mat for this one. “Wherever you are, take a big inhale through your nose,” advises Lauren Imparato, founder and owner of the celebrated I.AM.YOU. Studio in New York City. “Then exhale strongly out of your mouth sticking your tongue out. Maybe even shake your head fiercely; don’t be afraid to make some noise. Repeat one to five times as you see fit and you’ll soon notice the release of whatever’s been holding you back in an infusion of fresh oxygen and energy to let your creative juices move forward.”
What’s your favorite stretch or yoga pose when you’re in a creative rut? Post a picture on Instagram and tag @BritandCo for a chance to be featured!
(Photos via Getty)