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Yoga & Painting - How both are intertwined and make me feel alive in their own unique ways.

Updated: Jun 26, 2023

Yoga

I have been a yoga teacher for 13 years now.

A painter for almost 3.


I sought yoga because I felt lost.

Yoga helps me ground. Find connection, balance, strength.


And it’s teachings help me address and understand the fluctuations in life.


It’s a very intimate, in my body experience of my muscles, my breath, my bones, the earth beneath.

It makes me very aware of my physicality. And helps me drop my focus on my thinking brain, into my base/ interoceptive brain.


It was a medicine to bring me to the HERE and NOW. It’s a fantastic reset button. Clarity and a Shiva-like zen-ness exudes after every practice.

It’s what I need on a consistent basis (at least once a week) Otherwise, I will be all out of sorts.


But something was missing. I soon realise that Yoga was a practice that didn't tick not all the boxes to a meaningful purposeful life. It was just one piece of the puzzle for me. It was the foundation, but not the building blocks, the ingredients, or even the icing on the cake.


Painting

When I discovered painting, it was like discovering an array of new 'feelings' I have never felt before.


Firstly, painting leads to a physical, tangible item or project. You can see a painting, feel it, hold it, keep it, hang it up, gift it. And somehow, it's tangibility, makes it so much more real.


Yoga is wonderful yes, but yoga is an experience. And unless I record every class I take and play it back (even, then, it doesn't describe the entirety of a yoga practice experience), I can't ever really hold the experience in my hands.


Also, painting takes me out of my body and into an actual task, where there is a general goal towards the end of it. While in yoga, there is no actual goal. Yes, for some people, touching your toes, or doing a headstand may be a goal in yoga. But for me, I don't believe in such goals. And those milestones are only there to teach us the lessons along the way.


In painting, I am aiming to paint this flower. That landscape. This bouquet. And with a goal, the whole experience is altered slightly as it has an element of pursuit. Which healthy or not to a human being, can feel really exhilarating.


While yoga laid the foundation, painting was the 'Shakti', otherwise known as the Feminine. It was the creative flow.


It was the energy bursting to dance, to come to life, to express and be free and show itself to the world.

It was the flowy, dancing, getting lost in the music, leaving my body type experience.


It was beauty- seeking. but not in a vain way. In a really pure way, like wanting to capture the beauty of a flower that nature has already done such a good job at. How can I a mere human, attempt to do what 'God' has already done? (whether you believe in god or not, you will agree that a flower is bloody beautiful and that it is beyond humans to be able to create something like that).


So,


Yoga = Foundation, In my body. Presence. Shiva-like Zenness

Painting = Play. Expression. Beauty. Leaving my body. but also Presence. And a Shakti-like Dance.


But whilst they are both different, they are also both the same. In the sense that both bring me to the present. Both are more left brained oriented, more creative and less calculation. More, moment to moment feeling.


Teaching

Then there’s the whole teaching element to both.


I have been learning and cultivating the craft of teaching yoga for over a decade now. Teaching yoga, is like being a conductor of an orchestra. Except the musicians are my students.

And the orchestrating is mostly me guiding them to into their bodies, and resulting in movements that help them get more into their bodies.


There is a start, middle and end to most classes. A warm up, a rise and intensity, then a cool down all the way to the rest.

Teaching yoga in itself, brings me into a flow state where I totally lost in the flow of the class. Time is forgotten, I am forgotten. I am so in my own body and flowing with my students breath and body.


It’s like riding one big wave from beginning, middle to end. My classes usually have a flow that doesn’t break. It’s like a moving meditation.


And teaching painting somehow feels very similar. I am discovering I am almost using my ‘yoga teaching’ voice to teach painting. I am orchestrating a creation of a painting. And I am leading my students into their bodies, their movements (of the brush) and into their materials. There’s the additional element of colour, of beauty, balance and composition. Guiding students through a painting is similar to guiding students into a painting.


There is also a start, middle and end to a painting journey. The start is usually scary. Laying the first foundational shapes, colours... the first layer. It feels like w arm up. Getting used to your strokes, supplies and subject. The middle is usually the process of filling up a page. Maybe lots of wet on wet. You're more warmed up, and you are more comfortable. You're in the flow. And the final stage is usually the finer details, the shadows and feeling the nearing of and 'end' of a painting. There's a sweetness to it. A finality.


Painting a piece is a beautiful arch, a wave, a journey. Just like a yoga practice. Just like a good story. And my job as a yoga/painting teacher is take my students on a story, guided by me, but created by themselves. And it's a beautiful dance. An intimate flow. A micro-journey to help reset your life.


In both, my goal, my aim to both is to have students feel like they have somehow transformed a little. That they feel more grounded, more nourished, more accomplished even, after taking one of my yoga or painting classes.


I feel so incredibly blessed to have chanced upon these 2 paths. Yoga and Painting.

I wonder where I would be if I hadn’t found them both.


Have you taken my yoga or painting class (on youtube)? Let me know if what I’ve written make any sense at all. Or do you practice yoga and also paint? I'd love to hear from you.

Namaste :)




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4 Comments


Painting has become my therapy. I absolutely look forward to it every day. I’ve been thinking about yoga but I never seem to make the time. And yet I find myself running to my art table daily. Perhaps I’ll find a way to fit both into my day.

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Crystal Tan
Crystal Tan
Jun 28, 2023
Replying to

I am exactly the same! I definitely don't run to my yoga mat as much as i run to my painting table. The way I see it now, Yoga is a necessity, and Painting is a desire/want. That's why teaching a weekly yoga class is so good for me, it forces me to do what I need.

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Shanna Allen Sisak
Shanna Allen Sisak
Jun 27, 2023

Love this post. I am not a teacher in any way but I am a student of yoga and painting. I love my exercise practice, which has included yoga for many years. But like you said, discovering painting opened up a whole new world for me. I have never really tried to explain what it means to me, but it means so so much. Painting is my therapy but also my frustration. I am forced to move beyond the part of myself that is scared and vulnerable when I paint. It’s truly a strange experience but I wouldn’t trade it for the world. I just wish I had discovered painting years ago!

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Crystal Tan
Crystal Tan
Jun 28, 2023
Replying to

What a beautiful way to express it "forces you to move beyond the part of yourself that is scared and vulnerable" . That's simply gorgeous. Thank you for sharing! I know right, I can't imagine life without it now!

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