Yoga Minds, Writing Bodies

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This book argues for the inclusion of Eastern-influenced contemplative education in writing studies as a means of exploring the active engagement writers maintain with their bodies throughout the composing process. It explores how this engagement can be navigated by integrating yoga and mediation into the instruction and practice of writing.

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Published 01 May 2015
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EAN13 9781602356627
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Wenger
YO G A M I N D S, YOGA MINDS,WWRRIITTIINNG BGOBDIOESD I E S
CO N T E M PL AT I V E W R I T I N G PE DAG O G Y
Christy I. Wenger
PERSPECTIVES ON WRITING Serîes Edîtor, Susan H. McLeod
PERSPECTIVES ON WRITING Serîes Edîtor, Susan H. McLeod
he Perspectîves on Wrîtîng serîes addresses wrîtîng studîes în a broad sense. Consîstent wît te wîde rangîng approaces caracterîstîc o teacîng and scoarsîp în wrîtîng across te currîcuum, te serîes presents works tat take dîvergent perspectîves on workîng as a wrîter, teacîng wrîtîng, admînîsterîng wrîtîng programs, and studyîng wrîtîng în îts varîous orms.
he WAC Cearîngouse and Paror Press are coaboratîng so tat tese books wî be wîdey avaîabe troug ree dîgîta dîstrîbutîon and ow-cost prînt edî-tîons. he pubîsers and te Serîes edîtor are teacers and researcers o wrîtîng, commîtted to te prîncîpe tat knowedge soud reey cîrcuate. We see te opportunîtîes tat new tecnoogîes ave or urter democratîzîng knowedge. And we see tat to sare te power o wrîtîng îs to sare te means or a to artîcuate teîr needs, înterest, and earnîng înto te great experîment o îteracy.
Recent Books in tHe Series
Sara Aen,Beyond Argument: Essayîng as a Practîce o (Ex)Cange(2015) Steven J. Corbett,Beyond Dîcotomy: Synergîzîng Wrîtîng Center and Cassroom Pedagogîes(2015) Tara Roeder and Roseanne Gatto (Eds.),Crîtîca Expressîvîsm: heory and Prac-tîce în te Composîtîon Cassroom(2015) Terry Myers Zawackî and Mîcee Cox,WAC and Second-Language Wrîters: Researc Towards Lînguîstîcay and Cuturay Incusîve Programs and Prac-tîces(2014) Cares Bazerman,A Retorîc o Lîterate Actîon: Lîterate Actîon Voume 1(2013) Cares Bazerman,A heory o Lîterate Actîon: Lîterate Actîon Voume 2(2013) Katerîne V. Wîs and Rîc Rîce (Eds.),ePortoîo Perormance Support Systems: Constructîng, Presentîng, and Assessîng Portoîos(2013) Mîke Duncan and Star Medzerîan Vangurî (Eds.),he Centraîty o Stye(2013) Crîs haîss, Gerd Bräuer, Paua Carîno, Lîsa Ganobcsîk-Wîîams, and Aparna Sîna (Eds.),Wrîtîng Programs Wordwîde: Proies o Academîc Wrîtîng în Many Paces(2012) Andy Kîrkpatrîck and Zîcang Xu,Cînese Retorîc and Wrîtîng: An Introduc-tîon or Language Teacers(2012)
YOGA MINDS, WRITING BODIES: CONTEMPLATIVE WRITING PEDAGOGY
Crîsty ï. Wenger
he WAC Cearîngouse wac.coostate.edu Fort Coîns, Coorado
Paror Press www.parorpress.com Anderson, Sout Caroîna
he WAC Cearîngouse, Fort Coîns, Coorado 80523-1052 Paror Press, 3015 Brackenberry Drîve, Anderson, Sout Caroîna 29621
© 2015 by Crîsty ï. Wenger. hîs work îs îcensed under a Creatîve Commons Attrîbutîon-NonCommercîa-NoDerîvatîves 4.0 ïnternatîona.
Prînted în te Unîted States o Amerîca
Lîbrary o Congress Cataogîng-în-Pubîcatîon Data Wenger, Crîsty ï., 1982- Yoga mînds, wrîtîng bodîes : contempatîve wrîtîng pedagogy / Crîsty ï. Wenger.  1 onîne resource. -- (Perspectîves on wrîtîng)  ïncudes bîbîograpîca reerences.  Descrîptîon based on prînt versîon record and CïP data provîded by pubîser; resource not vîewed.  ïSBN 978-1-60235-662-7 (pd ) -- ïSBN 978-1-60235-663-4 (epub) -- ïSBN 978-1-60235-664-1 ( mobî) -- ïSBN 978-1-60235-660-3 (pbk. : acîd-ree paper) 1. Engîs anguage--Composîtîon and exercîses--Study and teacîng. 2. Mînd and body. 3. Se în îterature. 4. Yoga. ï. Tîte.  PE1404  808’.04207--dc23  2015007050
Copyedîtor: Don Donaue Desîgner: Tara Reeser Serîes Edîtor: Susan H. McLeod
hîs book îs prînted on acîd-ree paper.
he WAC Cearîngouse supports teacers o wrîtîng across te dîscîpînes. Hosted by Coorado State Unîversîty, ît brîngs togeter scoary journas and book serîes as we as resources or teacers wo use wrîtîng în teîr courses. hîs book îs avaîabe în dîgîta ormat or ree downoad at ttp://wac.coostate.edu.
Paror Press, LLC îs an îndependent pubîser o scoary and trade tîtes în prînt and mutîmedîa ormats. hîs book îs avaîabe în prînt and dîgîta ormats rom Paror Press at ttp://www.parorpress.com. For submîssîon înormatîon or to Ind out about Paror Press pubîcatîons, wrîte to Paror Press, 3015 Brackenberry Drîve, Anderson, Sout Caroîna 29621, or emaî edîtor@parorpress.com.
PREFACE ïn te begînnîng, tere îs no substîtute or sweat. —BKS ïyengar,Lîgt on Lîe
I take a ard ook în te mîrror, notîng my yoga pants and sneakers. As someone wo preers to dress busîness casua or teacîng, tîs outit îs a devîatîon tat ees bot excîtîng, because ît’s reeîngy comortabe, and a bît scary. I cose my oose-it-ted yoga pants careuy today, avoîdîng te skîn-tîgt paîr I reguary wear to te yoga studîo. hroug my sow deveopment as a yogî, I’ve earned tat to understand your body, you ave to see ît; to see ît ceary, you ave to caîm ît. It’s ard to see î your knee îs îned up over your bîg toe, or exampe, î tat knee îs swaowed up by abrîc. Tîgter its aow or better aîgnment assessment and easîer movement în yoga. Wîe my tîgt pants ave a practîca purpose, ten, tat tey’ve come to rest în my coset îs just one îndîcatîon o ow ar I’d come în ettîng go o my body se-con-scîousness and caîmîng my body as ît îs. As a yogî, I understand tese actîons o gîvîng myse over to my practîce—worryîng ess about oters’ perceptîons o my body and more about my own sense o embodîment—as a sîgn o growt. As a wrîtîng teacer-cum-yogî about to brîng tese two words togeter, owever, I proceed wît measure. Stî standîng în ront o my mîrror, I move my arms up and down to make sure my top stays în pace. I pan to compete today’s yoga practîce wît my irst-year wrîtîng students and don’t reîs te îdea o tem seeîng unveîed any part o my body tat woud be normay coted. Abandonîng body se-conscîousness îs, I ave ound, îs a very sow process. Muc îke gaînîng conidence as a wrîter. Beore I can turn away rom my relectîon, I see te wîde eyes o someone not ony excîted but aso a îtte araîd. I must admît to myse tat I’m wonderîng î my irst-year wrîtîng students wî revot ater today’s yoga practîce wît my Iyengar teacer and me. I am worrîed about wat wî appen wen I dîspay wat I coud never îde but or years trîed to îgnore în te cassroom: my own young, emae body. As a neopyte scoar, I ony ave about a decade on most o my students, and I worry tat acknowedgement o my les coud dîsrupt my “teacery” autorîty, sendîng te cass on a coîsîon course toward caos. O course as a yogî, I reaîze tîs îs unîkey and desîre to pus troug te earned ear untî ît îs a dîstant memory. My experîence as a “wrîtîng yogî” îs wy I am doîng tîs, gîvîng my students te cance to încorporate yoga înto teîr wrîtîng processes as I’ve done wît great success. I’ve reaced tîs mo-ment because I can no onger tînk o wrîtîng and yoga as separate processes, înked
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Wenger as tey are by a common core o mînduness. But, I stî can’t keep te od, earned panîc rom nîppîng at me.My students Itered înto te dance studîo o te campus dance studîo sowy. Most took my înjunctîon to wear oose-Ittîng, comortabe “workout” cotes serîousy. houg, two mae students came în jeans and t-sîrts, peraps to sug-gest teîr ack o entusîasm. Everyone ooked around nervousy, spottîng te uge stack o oded bankets on te sîde o te room, bankets my yoga teac-er, Hoy, and ï and er two assîstants ugged up în uge, back tras bags to te tîrd loor o my campus’ gym. ïn te nervous energy tat accumuated beore my students sowed up or cass, ï neaty oded tose tras bags and paced tem în a pîe beînd te bankets; te caenge o odîng pastîc was a wecome dîstractîon to wat woud come next. As or te bankets temseves, Hoy was adamant tat we provîde props or my students so as to better accom-modate te restoratîve poses wît wîc we’d start and end cass. ïndeed, î se’d ad er way, we woud ave moved te brîcks and straps rom er studîo across town to tîs room as we. he copîous use o props îs a eature o te kînd o yoga we’d do today. ïyengar yoga can accommodate a range o students’ needs and lexîbîîtîes by modîyîng poses usîng props. Among oter reasons, ît îs suc adaptabîîty tat makes tîs Hata approac a rîendy one or te wrîtîng cass-room. Today was te day a our joînt pannîng woud opeuy pay of, and Hoy and ï were commîtted to gîvîng my students a taste o “rea” yoga even as we strîved or a structure tat woudn’t be întîmîdatîng and tat woud It organ-îcay înto te overa goas o my wrîtîng cass. My wrîtîng students were pre-pared or today’s “yoga or wrîters” practîce rom te day tey stepped oot în my course. hey knew tat teîr body bogs and our exporatîon o te pysîca demands o te wrîtîng process woud eventuay brîng us to tîs Irst day o practîcîng yoga togeter as a cass. Ater exporîng te împortance o our wrîtîng bodîes or te Irst quarter o te semester, we woud Inay be earnîng yoga so we coud experîment wît întegratîngasanas, or poses, în our composîng pro-cesses rom tîs poînt on. Today, we woud be ed by a certîIed înstructor, my own yoga teacer, wo generousy ofered to teac my wrîtîng cass a serîes o yoga poses tat we cose togeter, careuy sequenced and ten dubbed a “yoga or wrîters” practîce. By my eyes and teîr own accounts (wîc ï woud read ater în teîr bogs), my students seemed wary as tey entered te room. hey îmmedîatey took în te presence o Hoy and er assîstants—one mae and one emae. ï oped te mae assîstant served as an împortant remînder or my mae students, especîay te jean-cad ones, tat yoga wasn’t “gîry” or înerenty emascuatîng. Sînce
Preface young men at my unîversîty tended to approac yoga as a orm o women’s exercîse, ï’d prevîousy mentîoned tat te yoga casses ï take rîgt outsîde o te unîversîty’s bounds are popuated wît just as many mae as emae yogîs and taked about ow proessîona ootba payers were usîng yoga as a way to deveop body awareness, strengt and lexîbîîty. My students and ï ad even-tuay come togeter over te îrony tat a practîce domînated by men în ïndîa îs so dîferenty caracterîzed by Amerîcan yout cuture. Notîng te assîstants, students ooked back to me or reassurance. heîr eyes seemed to say, “ï guess we reay are doîng yoga în our cass today.” ï smîed opeuy at tem. My students ook appreensîve, but I beîeve myse to be te most nervous person în te room. I worry tat despîte my attempts to prepare tem and unne our cass toward tîs very moment, tey wî not dîscover even a degree o embodîed awareness today. I tey can’t make te connectîons between yoga and wrîtîng on teîr own and troug teîr îndîvîdua bodîes, I can ony pray tey won’t wrîte me of aong wît our practîce. Wat î tey start to vîew me as some “cruncy,” new-age îppîe wastîng teîr tîme? How can I inîs te semester wîtout încîdent î my students no onger respect me or my autorîty as teîr composîtîon înstructor? I reaîze în a moment o carîty tat an anxîous teacer îsn’t te most convîncîng, so I try to swaow my nerves and to smîe conidenty at tem as tey enter te room. One by one, tey ook to me or reassurance, and I ind myse noddîng and teîng tem to take of teîr soes and grab a banket, tryîng to draw strengt rom routîne. hîs îs, ater a, ow Hoy as run a o er yoga casses, so ît as been my routîne as a student o ers. My roes as student and teacer merge as my words coîde. ï oped tat our mîndu preparatîon and organîzatîon as we as Hoy’s evîdent and serîous passîon or yoga woud ep students eave beînd prîor judgment and woud medîate teîr trepîdatîons wît a sense o adventure. ï ad great aît în Hoy’s no-nonsense approac. ït was tempered by genuîne rîendîness and a desîre to sare er practîce wît oters tat was înectîous to me as a yoga student. ï oped tat er Ire-and-îce combînatîon woud keep my students on task and prevent tem rom gooIng of. Hoy began by askîng students ow tey were eeîng, notîng tat many ooked exausted. ï woudn’t normay ask students ow tîred tey were eeîng, so tîs questîon surprîsed me or a moment. And, even î my students acknowedged teîr exaustîon în tose catty moments beore te day’s esson ad begun, ï woudn’t necessarîy tînk to gîve tem a moment to reconnect and revîve temseves or te tasks tat îe aead durîng our cass tîme togeter. But, tîs îs ow Hoy started. As my students expaîned teîr ectîc weeks o atetîc practîces, ate nîgts study-îng or tests în te îbrary and wrîtîng papers, ï began to notîce just ow muc wearîness tey wore on teîr aces and te exaustîon wît wîc tey seemed
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Wenger to carry teîr bodîes. ï coudn’t ep but wonder ow many tîmes în prevîous casses ï’d mîsread exaustîon or dîsengagement. Hoy promîsed students tat our practîce woud ep wît teîr exaustîon. Aready beîng îstened to, tey responded în turn and took Hoy’s înstructîon to od up teîr bankets în tîrds as se was. hey copîed er mode o te Irst pose,savasana,wîc se sowed tem by yîng on te loor în a supîne posî-1 tîon wît arms and egs reaxed to te sîdes o te body.To encourage students’ energetîc învovement and teîr u presence durîng our practîce o te more actîve poses orasanas, we started students în tîs restoratîve pose, wîc îs meant to cam te mînd and quîet te body. ï teîr responses to Hoy’s Irst questîon were an approprîate gauge, my students were în great need o momentary pys-îca rest and a stîîng o teîr mînds. Students reaxed întosavasanawît a banket oded în tîrds beneat and between teîr souder bades to ep open up teîr cests. ïn yoga, cest openers are not ony meant to be pysîcay restoratîve, as a way to counter te rounded souders cutîvated by too many ours în ront o te computer or sîttîng în caîrs wît poor posture but are aso tougt to open up te eart and mînd to new îdeas. Because yoga sees te metaporîc and pysîca as înterconnected, ît îs understood tat as we open up pysîcay, we are ess îkey to make snap judgments and are more îkey to approac ourseves and oters wît baance, compassîon and non-vîoence, caedaîmsa. O course, on a îtera eve baance and openness are împortant or my students, many o wom never practîced yoga beore and woud ave to be patîent wît teîr tîgt bodîes; tey woud ave to et go o debîîtatîng judgments î tey ound teîr peers to be more îmber tan temseves, or înstance. Furter, on an îmagînatîve eve, ï oped students woud be înluenced by tîs openîng pose to gîve our practîce a aîr cance and not îmmedîatey judge ît as a poor use or a cass meetîng. Happîy, students’ sîgs as tey setted înto tîs pose were a testament to te reîe tey et at beîng gîven a cance to reax beore asked to exert temseves once more or a teacer’s demands. Movîng tem înto an easy seated, cross-egged pose romsavasana, we asked students to set an întentîon orsankupaor teîr practîce, notîng tat tîs înten-tîon was to guîde and gîve meanîng to teîr movements. We expaîned tat tîs was îke avîng a goa wen wrîtîng a paper. ïntentîons remînd students to îsten to teîr bodîes as tey move tem în new and dîferent ways, promotîng ocus and gîvîng tem a eeîng o purpose to carry înto teîr practîce o yoga—or wrîtîng. Settîng an întentîon îs a conscîous way to brîdge te mînd and body’s înteîgence and can ep students earn to connect eeîngs and tougts, în-creasîng awareness o bot. Drawîng înward or a moment consequenty eps
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Preface deveop se-relectîon and încreases lexîbîîty. hîs practîce o reconnectîng wît ourseves îs understood to gîve measure to our actîons, teacîng us tat we can contro our response to stîmuî by îstenîng to our bodîes and usîng our energy productîvey and not or untînkîngy reactîng to everytîng tat comes our way. he practîce o coosîng wat we react to îs a rîtua we woud ater use to support curîosîty and engagement wen tackîng ow to întegrate outsîde sources and dîferîng perspectîves în our wrîtîng. Beore I can tînk muc about wat my întentîon soud be today, one rîses to te surace: I must et go and sîmpy enjoy tîs experîence. I want my beîng and doîng to merge în tîs întentîon so tat I can ind strengt and carîty, wîc I wî need în order to know ow to brîng tîs practîce “ome” to our reguar cassroom meetîngs ater today. As I set tîs întentîon, I îmagîne ît arîsîng rom my eart and permeatîng my woe body. Wen I practîce yoga, I îke to tînk o my întentîons as beams o îgt tat start în my center and reac to te tîps o my toes and ingers so tat every ce o my beîng can ind a unîty o purpose în te movements to come. Today îs no dîferent. As I îmagîne tese beams o îgt warmîng me and spreadîng rom my înner body to my outer body, I remember tat ît îs tîs cutîvatîon o strengt rom awareness and patîence tat drew me to yoga în te irst pace. To move ocus toward se-awareness, we coaced students troug a process opratyaara, or a sow reeasîng o tensîon rom te body and consequent wît-drawa o te sense organs. We cose to încude tese practîces în order to ep students deveop a reatîonsîp wît teîr bodîes tat woud contînue troug-out our practîce, and ater, înto teîr wrîtîng. he goa opratyaaraîs not to îgnore everytîng or to tune ît out but to deveop cam awareness and concen-tratîon în te mîdst o a dîstractîng word. And because yoga vîews te body as a medîatîon poînt between înner and outer, yoked as we are to oter bodîes and a materîa word, drawîng înward sîmutaneousy remînds us o te oter bodîes to wîc we are connected and creates a et communîty between practîtîoners. Students ten worked on steadyîng teîr breat, engagîng înpranayama, or breat awareness. To keep tîngs sîmpe, Hoy asked tem to matc teîr outbreats and în-breats so as to even tem out, brîngîng peace and promotîng ocus or te practîce to oow. A basîc tenant o yoga îs tat te breat împacts te mînd so wîe ïyengar yoga approacespranayamaas a skî o îts own rîgt, a separate îmb o te eîgt-od pat o yoga, basîc appîcatîons o attentîve breatîng are încorporated rom te begînnîng oasanapractîce. Awareness o te breat îs te înge on wîcasanasturn. Wen our breatîng îs even, our tougts and our actîons can be baanced and dîrected. Wît my eyes cosed, I breate sowy, eeîng my în-breats cam me. I ear my out-breats mînge wît my students’ wo are sîttîng a around me. At tîs moment,
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