November 2015 Pre-Thanksgiving Yoga and Writing Cleanse Review

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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.

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Jessica leading the writing workshop.

CWW Pre-Thanksgiving Writing & Yoga Cleanse (Sacred Sounds Yoga, NYC, November 21-22, 2015)

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Join the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop for a Pre-Thanksgiving Writing & Yoga Cleanse at Sacred Sounds Yoga in New York City. We hope you’re as excited for this event as we are! Registration is currently $30 per day in advance or $35 on the day of the workshop.  REGISTER HERE

SATURDAY Nov. 21 & SUNDAY Nov. 22 * 2pm-4 pm

163 Bleecker Street, 2nd Floor
(b’twn Sullivan & Thompson Streets)
New York, NY 10012
T: 212.533.YOGA (9642)
E: info@sacredsoundsyoga.com

  • Yoga with Elissa Lewis
  • Writing Workshops with Diana Norma Szokolyai and Jessica Reidy

Join our 3rd annual Pre-Thanksgiving Yoga & Creative Writing Cleanse. As the leaves are changing colors, bring some of those transformations into your life.  Before re-uniting with family for lots of heavy food and holiday affairs (along with the cheer and stress that comes along with it), treat yourself to a weekend of creative writing & yoga.  If you’re participating in #NaNoWriMo 2015, come join us, rejuvenate your creative juices, and enjoy working on your novel in a relaxing environment!  The writing workshop is for all levels of writers and open to all genres.

Elissa Lewis will begin class each day with a gentle vinyasa flow to relieve stress in the body followed by restorative poses, essential oils and yoga nidra. She will focus on the ajna chakra, or our “third eye,” the lens which we see the world through.  This asana is ideal for “opening up the third eye” so that we’re intuitive, imaginative, and able to visualize. Then, writing instructors Diana Norma Szokolyai Jessica Reidy will lead you in generating new material for existing or potential writing projects.

Faculty Information:

DianaNormaDiana Norma Szokolyai is a writer/interdisciplinary artist/educator and Executive Artistic Director of Cambridge Writers’ Workshop. She frequently records her poetry with musicians and has collaborated with several composers, such as Jason Haye (UK), Sebastian Wesman (Argentina), Peter James (UK), Julie Case (US), Jeremie Jones (Canada), Claudio Gabriele (Italy) and David Krebs (US). Her poetry-music collaboration with Flux Without Pause led to their collaboration “Space Mothlight” hitting the Creative Commons Hot 100 list twice in 2015, and can be found in the curated WFMU Free Music Archive. Her writing on literary communities was the subject of a monthly feature on HER KIND by VIDA: Women in the Literary Arts and an interview on the same topic was featured in Quail Bell Magazine in May 2014. Author of the poetry collections Parallel Sparrows (honorable mention for Best Poetry Book in the 2014 Paris Book Festival) and Roses in the Snow (first runner-­‐‑up Best Poetry Book at the 2009 DIY Book Festival), she has also been published in Quail BellInternational Who’s Who in Poetry 2012, Lyre Lyre, The Boston Globe, Dr. Hurley’s Snake Oil Cure, Polarity, The Fiction Project, Up the Staircase Quarterly, The Dudley Review, and elsewhere. Her writing has been anthologized in Always Wondering, The Highwaymen NYC #2, Other Countries: Contemporary Poets Rewiring HistoryThe Cambridge Community Poem, and Teachers as Writers. She co-­curates a poetry-music series, performs in CHAGALL PAC, and is an interdisciplinary performance artist with the Brooklyn Soundpainting Ensemble. She lives in Brooklyn, NY and holds an Ed.M degree in Arts in Education from Harvard, as well as an M.A. in French literature from UConn.

Jessica Reidy is a mixed-Romani (Gypsy) heritage writer from New Hampshire. She earned her MFA in Fiction at Florida State University and a B.A. from Hollins University. Her work has been nominated for a Pushcart, and has appeared in Narrative Magazine as Short Story of the Week, The Los Angeles Review, Arsenic Lobster, and other journals. She’s a staff-writer and Outreach Editor for Quail Bell Magazine, Managing Editor for VIDA: Women in the Literary Arts, Visiting Professor for the Cambridge Writer’s Workshop retreats, and Art Editor for The Southeast Review. She also teaches yoga and occasionally still works her family trades, fortune telling and dance. Jessica is currently working on her first novel set in post-WWII Paris about Coco Charbonneau, a half-Romani burlesque dancer and fortune teller of Zenith Circus, who becomes a Nazi hunter.

ElissaLewisElissa Lewis is the Yoga & Arts Coordinator of the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop.  She began her journey with yoga in 2006, when she moved to France and made the practice part of her daily routine. She saw yoga as a lifestyle, not only a class, helping her to clear her mind and have more compassion for herself and others. In 2010 she moved to New York and completed her teacher training at Laughing Lotus, a creative, soulful yoga studio that teaches the student to ‘move like yourself.’ She’s taught private and group classes in Manhattan and Brooklyn ever since. Visit her websitefor informative yoga sequences and information.

You can also email us at directors@cambridgewritersworkshop.org if you have any specific questions. Follow us on FacebookTwitter, and Tumblr for more information and to learn more about upcoming events.

CWW Instructor Jessica Reidy nominated for Best of the Net

Cambridge Writers’ Workshop Instructor, Jessica Reidy, recently had her poem “Transfiguration of the Black Madonna: Gypsy Goddess, Gypsy Saint” nominated by The Infoxicated Corner of The The Poetry Blog for “Best of the Net.”  Check out the other nominees here!

Transfiguration of the Black Madonna (excerpted from Zenith)

Gypsy Goddess; Gypsy Saint
Black Madonna, full of snakes, let your crescent down. Wield the sickle, rush the milk, and salt the serpents’ mouths. Golden bangles, black milk snakes—these adorn your arms. Blue sky cloth cut for (you) Sarah, Sarah Black, Madonna Shadow, cut for goddess saint of wanderers, cut predestined, cut of chaos, cut the star palm bowls. Slip the feathers under scales and reform the body whole. You were a slave who sailed the chasm, sailed the sea and sun. Persecution sprang a river from the monster: milk, and spit, and blood. In the monster lived a woman and the woman’s soul—you wore her face and wore her tresses spun from black snake gold—golden teeth and golden brow, golden tail and root. The milk snakes split their nests and fled and now your mouth is ruined. There is no birth, there is no death, there’s only mutant growth, and milk snakes dyeing Sarah’s skin with heaps and heaps of gold. There is no sickle there is no moon, there is no blood or salt. There’s only Sarah sailing through the dream in which she’s caught.

Jessica will be teaching alongside Diana Norma Szkoloyai (writing faculty) and Elissa Lewis (yoga faculty) at our upcoming Thanksgiving Cleanse Writing & Yoga Retreat at Sacred Sounds in Greenwich Village, NYC. The retreat runs from 2-4 on Saturday November 21st and 2-4 on Sunday November 22nd, and is packed with both writing and craft classes and yoga classes. Registration is currently $30 per day in advance or $35 on the day of the workshop. The workshops will be different each day, and we’d love to have you with us for the whole weekend!

Jessica ReidyJessica Reidy attended Florida State University for her MFA in Fiction and earned her B.A. from Hollins University. Her work is Pushcart-nominated and has appeared in Narrative Magazine as Short Story of the Week, The Los Angeles Review, The Missouri Review, and other journals. She’s a staff-writer and the Outreach Editor for Quail Bell Magazine, Managing Editor for VIDA: Women in the Literary Arts, Art Editor for The Southeast Review, and Visiting Professor for the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop retreats. She teaches creative writing and is a certified yoga instructor and Reiki Master. Jessica also works her Romani (Gypsy) family trades, fortune telling, energy healing, and dancing. Jessica is currently writing her first novel set in post-WWII Paris about Coco Charbonneau, the half-Romani burlesque dancer and fortune teller of Zenith Circus, who becomes a Nazi hunter.  You can learn more at www.jessicareidy.com.