Last weekend, the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop continued its tradition of hosting a Pre-Thanksgiving Yoga and Writing Cleanse, this time at Sacred Sounds Yoga in Manhattan. Just like with previous years, the CWW offered participants the chance to cleanse their minds and bodies through yoga, and come out feeling rejuvenated and ready to write later on in the two-hour session.
The event commenced on Saturday, November 21st, at two p.m. Located on Bleecker Street, Sacred Sounds Yoga was our generous host for the weekend. After being provided with yoga mats, blocks, blankets, and bolsters, we were ready to begin. The first hour of the Yoga and Writing workshop consisted of our yoga instructor, Elissa Lewis, guiding us through not only a wide variety of yoga exercises and poses, but also breathing techniques geared towards achieving a sense of peace and tranquility. Elissa made sure that with every pose, we concentrated on our breathing.
For those of us who were either new to yoga or returning after a period of prolonged absence, Elissa explained each exercise and demonstrated the transition from one pose to another. Some of the poses we did included downward facing dog, warrior II, peaceful warrior; low lunge, high lunge, lunge twist, cow pose, and cat pose.
We concluded the yoga portion by writing how we felt after doing yoga. What was the one central emotion or thought surrounding us? I must say, as a fellow participant, it was so relaxing and revitalizing that when it came time to say “Namaste,” and move on to the writing portion, we were more than ready to get our creative juices flowing.
In the second half of our Saturday cleanse, Jessica Reidy demonstrated how to write creatively by incorporating the sense of sight, of smell, of touch, and of taste. To aid us with this particular workshop, Jessica had pears, which she cut up and handed out to us.
To start the exercise off, Jessica read a poem written by an author who used the very same techniques we were about to. We were asked what we thought the poem was about and what really stood out to us. After that discussion, we moved along to the pears.
With our pears on hand, we were asked to examine them. What did they look like? Did they trigger any particular memory? What did they smell like? How about their touch? What did they taste like? As we explored each sense, we took notes, assigning words to the different categories we had just talked about. We were then asked to – with the use of our notes – write for about ten minutes, and thus create either a poem or a story that captured the essence of the pear. It didn’t necessarily have to be a memory or anything connected to our own lives. It just needed to be a creative piece.
With the little time we had left over after writing, a few of us (including myself) shared our pieces. After each person read, Jessica asked those of us who had listened what had jumped out at us from the story or poem. And was there any particular detail we wished the writer would expand upon?
The yoga and writing festivities continued onto Sunday, November 22nd, the second and final day of the workshop. Once again, Elissa did an hour of yoga, and Jessica did an hour of writing.
After two fun-filled days of yoga and writing, guests who attended the cleanse found themselves not only with a renewed sense of self and a clear mind, but also really great ideas for future stories, as well as extremely helpful writing tools. As with all of our workshops and retreats, we sincerely hope that those who joined in on the fun had a wonderful time, and of course, that they join us for any writing retreats we have in the future.
Jessica leading the writing workshop.