Last week, I went on a vacation to see my dad and step-mom in beautiful Oakley, Utah. The town covers 6.3 square miles and has a population of 1,544. It’s 6,500 above sea level and is the gateway to the Uinta Mountains. It’s all open road and mostly untouched land, and so different from where I live. That is one of the many things I so look forward to when I visit— immersing myself in those unique qualities, so spectacularly different from my own every day life.
My step-mom is a true yogi. She practices yoga almost every day, and has been doing so for well over ten years. It is an honor to join in on her yoga classes. I was thrilled to be invited!
I haven’t practiced yoga in well over a year. Even when I practiced regularly, I’ve always considered myself a real perpetual beginner. And though I hadn’t done yoga in a long time, I was SO ready for this. It was really a gift— a time to rediscover my inner-perpetual beginner-yogi self! No judgement. No gymnastics. Just a potential reconnection with a great mind-body practice that’s long gone dormant. I was fully open to the experience!
Over the course of my trip, we ended up attending yoga every day! Each practice was different… but the foundation of each practice— the way it unfolded and took root in a meditative-yet-physical way—was really similar.
…And, I noticed, it also felt really familiar to something else.
I noticed just how similar the yoga practice was, to the practice of drawing in my sketchbook. When I put two and two together, I was surprised that I never come to this conclusion before!
Yoga and sketching are practically the same thing
The Warm Up
In yoga, you wake up your body gently and warm up your breath. In sketching, it’s the same thing. In sketching, warming up with initial looser sketching is a great way to awaken your mind-body connection before digging into a deeper drawing and idea development.
Getting into the zone (the “autopilot” state)
There is the moment in a yoga practice when you are warmed up physically, mentally, and in terms of your breathing. You are beginning your flow, and your breath and body movements are becoming synchronized.
This is a moment that is usually invisible to us as we are experiencing it.. and, If it IS invisible, than we’re doing something RIGHT!
Being self-conscious doesn’t help us in yoga OR in our sketchbook. However, (ego–free) self-awareness is CREATIVE GOLD in BOTH yoga AND sketchbook practices!
In this state, you are aware of your movements and you may even be hyper-aware of the details of the work you are absorbed in.
But, your mind has kicked-in to this cool “autopilot” state!
When I’m in this state of mind in my sketchbook, the self-communication is effortless. In fact, I am barely even “talking to myself” about the next line I draw. It.. all… just.. FLOWS.
THIS is where you want to be! Pure, moving atoms and unhindered creativity, whether in yoga or in the sketchbook.
This is the state of mind I am ultimately seeking for every time I open my sketchbook. Now, I can see that a similar state of mind + body is available in the practice of yoga.
Breath is fundamental in yoga— connecting movement and breath is the foundation of yoga.
With sketching, when you’re on “autopilot”, your breath is natural, smooth, unlabored and sometimes, it is practically imperceptible. Very meditative, like yoga!
Practice, not perfection
Our sketchbook practice is a place to explore and experiment, and to let our minds open up and flow with new ideas.
A yoga practice is there for you to flow from the physical and mental space you are in, on any given day, and “work with it”.
In BOTH cases, you do the best you can, in those moments, and without judgement. (It IS a PRACTICE, after all!)
I am now curious about what OTHER daily rituals, practices and habits also mirror this “autopilot”, zen, creative state!
Which one creates a similar mind-body connection as a sketchbook practice for YOU? Let me know in the comments!
(Want to get more inspired to start or RE-start a daily sketchbook practice? Get my Sketchbook Magic ZenList! It’s FREE> Just click on the image below.)