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Unfurling the creator within… a series on yoga and creativity – part 2

Sep 17, 2012   //   by Yoga Lisa DC   //   Blog, creativity, Yoga  //  No Comments

I routinely explore my creative side through knitting, cooking, photography, and my class sequencing.

“One can be creative all the time. Creativity is usually associated with all the things that we do in any time of the day. Most of the things and almost all events can involve creativity. From cooking to dressing up involves creativity. Being creative tends to be shown when opportunities come or when the situation calls for it most especially when it is a project requirement or activities that need a touch of creative sense.”

I started my exploration of creativity by exploring the definition of creativity, what it means to be creative, and the attributes of the creative mind. I found a variety of studies and academic synthesis papers on the topic, but started by checking out the dictionary. As I explored, it was a lot of information to take in.

What are creativity, the creative, and the attributes of the creative mind and body?

Dictionary.com defines creativity as “(1) the state or quality of being creative; (2) the ability to transcend traditional ideas, rules, patterns, relationships, or the like, and to create meaningful new ideas, forms, methods, interpretations, etc.; originality, progressiveness, or imagination: the need for creativity in modern industry; creativity in the performing arts.; and (3) the process by which one utilizes creative ability: Extensive reading stimulated his creativity.”  Creativity has also been defined in studies about creative accomplishments as “an accomplishment that is ‘both novel and useful’.” An operational definition of creativity is “to produce or bring into existence something new by a course of action or behavior.”  Other researchers have defined creativity as “the capacity to general novel, socially valued products and ideas, or as the ability to produce work that is both novel and appropriate.”

These definitions are very broad, but all very similar. These definitions allow for the expansion of the thought of creativity beyond an artistic endeavor, which is often what one thinks about when hearing creative. The definitions allow for considering creativity to be the “thinking outside the box” moments in an office environment, leisure activities, like cooking or decorating, or academic activities, such as making presentations. They suggest that creativity is all around us; a part of our daily lives and being able to tap into it could enhance an individual’s life on a variety of levels.

One study noted that there are ten dimensions of a creative personality. These are:

1)    Great deal of physical energy,

2)    Being smart yet naïve,

3)    Combination of playfulness and discipline,

4)    Alternate between imagination and fantasy and a rooted sense of reality,

5)    Harbor introvertness and extrovertness,

6)    Remarkably humble and proud,

7)    Ability to escape the rigid gender role stereotyping,

8)    Traditionalist,

9)    Very passionate about their work yet they can extremely be objective about their work, and

10) Exposure to suffering and pain with a great deal of enjoyment.

These ten dimensions provide a good summary of the characteristics of the creative. Similar to the definition of creativity, these dimensions are broad and can encompass many types of individuals. Another study noted that creative people often have some or all of these traits: “broad interests, independent judgment, autonomy, self-confidence, intuition, ability to resolve paradoxes or accommodate opposite trains of thought in one’s self-concept, a strong sense of the self as creative, high tolerance of ambiguity, and willingness to grow.”

The question then becomes, if this is what creativity is, what are the attributes of a creative body and mind. Stopping for a moment to pay attention to what happens when an idea takes shape you might notice that in the exact moment that the idea is forming your mind feels relaxed and spacious. The creative impulse likely strikes when there is breathing room in the mind. This is the key point in defining what a creative mind is. A creative mind is often relaxed and spacious.

Although a relaxed and spacious mind is often the breeding ground for creative impulses, creativity may also strike when a person is in a variety of emotional states, ranging from lighter, happier moods to states of depression and sadness. In a state of sadness or depression, one might create artwork or literature that is darker, reflecting the emotions at the time the piece was developed.

An individual might seek to manifest an atmosphere that facilitates moving in and out of some of a variety of emotional states to achieve different outcomes. The practice of yoga can often bring an individual into those emotional spaces, often bringing up a variety of emotions and life experiences. And that is often noted to bring about the relaxed and spacious feeling.

Looking beyond the creative mind, creative people often are open to new experiences. As many participants in a non-statistical survey I conducted noted, being creative has opened them up to taking risks or taking on new challenges and exploring. Exploring this side of the Self has made them more confident and willing to give things a try. Whether someone considers himself or herself to be a “creative person” isn’t what determines if he or she is creative; it is whether he or she has ingenuity to think beyond the current situation, the confidence to take risks/chances, the willingness to be different, and the perseverance to try again that defines a creative person.

Next time

I’ll explore the similarities of the creative mind and the body after yoga, the benefits of being creative and the benefits of yoga.

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Resources

Magno, Carlo. Explaining the Creative Mind, The International Journal of Research and Review, Vol. 3, pp. 10-19 (September 2009).

Solomon, Miriam. Standpoint and Creativity, Symposium on Standpoint Theory, pp. 226-237 (2010).

Allmara, Angela R. and Ferraro, F. Richard. Creativity in Individuals At-Risk or Not At-Risk for Eating Disorders, Psychology Journal, Vol. 7, No. 2., pp. 51-54 (2010).

Horan, Roy. The Neuropsychological Connection Between Creativity and Meditation, Creativity Research Journal, 21(2-3), pp. 199-222 (2009).

Kenny, Robert M. The Whole is Greater: Reflective Practice, Human Development and Fields of Consciousness and Collaborative Creativity, Worl Futures, 64, pp. 590-630 (2008).

A Yogini’s Knitting Corner

Sep 14, 2012   //   by Yoga Lisa DC   //   Blog, creativity, knitting, meditation  //  No Comments

my yoga knee socks/leg warmers

Christine’s were this pretty pink

A couple weeks ago, I posted about yoga knee socks/leg warmers that I was making my friend Christine. After finishing hers and absolutely loving them, I decided that I needed a pair and made them for myself. I made mine in a gray/purple and I absolutely love them.

I used a diamond lace pattern that I found on ravelry.com and created my own pattern to get the right fit on the knee socks/leg warmers. Last Christmas, I made my first pair of yoga socks and I can say that I feel like I’ve evolved more than a bit with these. I worked increases up the back, above the ankle, that enabled me to wrap the lace all around the calf and get a nice fit.

 

see the lace pattern wrapping around the calf… a few more repeats and I would have a pair of thigh highs… hmmm…

About four more repeats of the lace pattern would have given me a pair of thigh highs. (it is entirely possible I may have a pair of diamond (or some other lace) thigh highs come the winter, since I love these so much.) I have recognized that I need to sew some elastic thread into the ribbing at the knee, since it stretches out quickly and in the next ones that I make, I’ll be doing more decreases around the top.

close up of the lace pattern

I wore these last weekend over some black leggings and I’m hoping to have them ready to wear this Saturday during some yoga training that I’m attending.

I have several pairs of these on my gift list, and with some more tweaks to the design, they will make great gifts. I have a few other projects in my cue to wrap up before I get to make another pair of these though. There are some arm warmers, a scarf, and at least one hat that I’m targeting finishing before I get back to these though.

I’ve been enjoying learning new knitting techniques and working on these and the other projects in my cue. Updates on those will come in the next few weeks. Knitting is one of the ways I like to express my creativity. It’s my creative playtime. And I can’t wait to have more time to work on those in process projects this weekend.

How do you express your creativity? When was the last time you had creative playtime?

Unfurling the creator within… a series on yoga and creativity – part 1

Aug 29, 2012   //   by Yoga Lisa DC   //   Blog, creativity, Yoga  //  No Comments

the final handouts

“Yoga opens up the flow of creativity, the unfurling of the creator within.” (yogajournal.com)

Over the last twelve months, I’ve been pursuing my 500-hour yoga teaching certification. The capstone to the training is writing and presenting our yoga thesis. Over the last few months, I worked to research my topic, write my paper, develop my workshop, and pull together my handouts.

I chose to explore the connection between yoga and creativity because in my own life, I have seen an incredible connection between yoga and creativity. Yoga has helped me to find the space to be in the present, to take risks, to relax and let go, and most importantly, to find clarity. My creative pursuits, specifically knitting and photography, also keep me in the present, help me to relax and let go, and bring clarity to my mind. I felt that it was inevitable for me to find out more about the connection between yoga and creativity, as I have found it to be profound. Yoga has created the conditions in my body to foster and enhance creativity. Pursuing my creative interests has helped lengthen the duration of the benefits my yoga practice brings me (being in the present moment, relaxing and letting go, and clearing my mind). It’s a never-ending circle.

the assembly line for creating my workshop handouts

This new series will explore the connection between yoga and creativity, providing insights from my research and paper. I’ll also explore ways that yoga can help us tap into our creativity by releasing energy blockages within the body and provide resources to help you explore the topic further. I hope you’ll join me on this exploration of the connection between yoga and creativity.

As the exploration begins, a few questions to ponder…

Has yoga inspired your creativity? How?

What benefits do you feel like you get from allowing your creative side to flourish?

What are your favorite ways to express your creative side on and off the mat?

Next time… creativity defined, what it means to be creative, and the attributes of a creative mind.

A Yogini’s Knitting Corner

Aug 27, 2012   //   by Yoga Lisa DC   //   Blog, creativity, knitting, meditation, self-care  //  No Comments

my ravellenics project – triangle shawl

This month has been incredibly busy, but I haven’t been at a loss for knitting projects. I’ve spent a lot of time knitting. The month kicked off with a knitting get together during the opening ceremonies of the 2012 summer Olympic games, where I started the colorful triangle shawl to the left. My friend Eve invited members of her local knitting group to watch the opening ceremonies and kick-off the ravellenic games – knitters and crocheters starting projects that would be finished by the completion of the closing ceremonies.

Knitting during the opening ceremony of the 2012 summer Olympic games

 

 

 

I had such a great time hanging out, knitting with these ladies. Many of which had begun an intricate lace shawl – the Rock Island. It’s a gorgeous triangle shawl, but a little too complex for me at this point. So I made another basic triangle shawl, that’s simple yet pretty (and when I wore it to work, quite warm). Many of the knitters finished their projects.

Eve in her completed Rock Island Shawl

 

 

I finished mine too and wore it to work that week.

my completed triangle shawl.

 

This shawl is an extremely basic lace pattern, which has driven me to begin to work with more complicated patterns (yet still simple). My next project is a little more complicated, but still a relatively simple pattern.

the start of diamond lace yoga knee socks

 

 

My friend Christine  and her husband are moving. Christine and I did our yoga teacher training together and connected over yoga and accounting. I’m in the midst of working on a pair of diamond lace yoga knee socks for her (22 rows and a seam left to finish the pair) and immediately when they are finished, I will be making a pair for myself, I’m loving them so much. (I’ll post more about this pattern, once I finish my pair.)

It’s been a busy month and as I start moving into gift making season, there will be lots more activity in this knitting corner. I love my knitting creative playtime and am excited to find more time for it.

What projects are you working on these days?

A Yogini Learns to Golf

Aug 1, 2012   //   by Yoga Lisa DC   //   Blog, golf, Yoga  //  No Comments

My golf clubs... I've had them for 7 years and happy to be playing with them again (after a 5 year break)

About two months ago, I decided it was time for me to get my golf clubs out of my apartment and start using them again. A little history… I got my first set of golf clubs back in 2003 from my dad after talking for a while about how I wanted to learn how to golf. At that time, I took some golf lessons and within two years had replaced the generic clubs I had with the women’s club set you see here. After nearly a year or so of lessons and playing many a 9-hole round, I had never managed to get consistency in my swing and quite frankly, i was never really good, so I put the clubs away for a while – five years to be specific.

So, I didn’t have any expectations when I picked up my clubs a month ago to start some full swing lessons. And I think I managed to come back to my clubs in a very different place than I had been before. The first lesson and the one that has stuck so well with me was “initiate the swing from the torso”. It was the first instruction and the one that helped me to begin to get consistency in my golf swing. And it brought me back to my yoga practice in a variety of ways.

Why I love golfing at East Potomac Park... it's cool being able to see and aim at the monuments while playing.

 

I started to think about my golf swing as a twist in my yoga practice. I remember how I tell my students to initiate twists from the torso, not the arms or the shoulders or the neck, but the midsection. It is something I always try to remember when I twist and it’s critical to getting a consistent motion when swinging a golf club.

Proper initiation of a twist wasn’t the only thing that connected to my yoga practice. Over the last few months, I’ve been spending time in my physical practice working on inversions and arm balances. I’ve been building strength and connecting to my core. As much as those poses are a function of arm strength, they are also a function of core and pelvic floor engagement or the bandhas – uddiyana and mula, to be specific. As I’ve been practicing my swing these last few weeks, I’ve been connecting even more with these bandhas. Drawing up on the pelvic floor and pulling my navel in and up has helped me find stability in my stance and establish a stable foundation. It’s helped me to connect to my swing in a way that I’d never been able to connect before.

top scorecard from when i played the course 6 or so years ago (62 strokes); bottom scorecard from my round on 7/21/2012 (41 strokes)

Initiating the twist and connecting to the bandhas are only the tip of the iceberg. I’ve also found myself reconnecting with my breath each time I get ready to swing the club. One of the fundamental elements of a vinyasa practice, of any yoga practice, is the linking of breath with movement. As I set up behind the ball, I take a couple deep breaths. And just as I would float my feet forward or turn my world upside down on an inhale, I initiate the movement of the club on the inhale. Connecting to my breath gives me time to move back into the present moment and clear my head. I move away from thinking about the result and towards the journey. I get out of my head.

I still have a long journey ahead to develop consistency in my swing and there will be lots of practice time on that journey. Continuing to apply these fundamentals from my asana practice during that practice time, though, will go a long way. I’m looking forward to continuing on this journey and seeing how I can progress along the way. Who knows what will happen, but no matter what, I intend to enjoy the journey.

A Yogini’s Knitting Corner

Jul 30, 2012   //   by Yoga Lisa DC   //   Blog, creativity, knitting, meditation, self-care  //  No Comments

Splendid Triangle Shawl - I like the lacy pattern, plus it's much simpler to make than it looks.

I’ve been quite busy with my sticks since I last posted. Knitting has been a productive and relaxing distraction from lots of things that I need to get done. I’m branching out in what I’m making, as I start to use my rather large yarn stash and begin to plan for holiday gift-making.

 

 

 

I finished another pair of baby booties, that I sent off to a friend for her son that will be born on Monday,and a triangle shawl that I gave to a close friend.

 

 

Splendid Triangle Shawl - pattern free from Lion Brand

I started a second shawl (pics to come next week) and designed the pattern for my friend Valerie‘s arm warmers.

 

Valerie's arm warmers... triple cable pattern with a reverse stockinette

 

 

 

 

 

 

This past weekend was full of knitting with friends. In the upcoming week, I’ll share more about those creative evenings.

Are you working on any projects lately? When was your last opportunity for creative play?

Adventures in Cooking… more smoothies

Jul 29, 2012   //   by Yoga Lisa DC   //   Blog, food  //  No Comments

As I mentioned a couple weeks ago, I’m back to enjoying breakfast smoothies. Thanks to my weekly fruit deliveries, I’ve had a refrigerator filled with fruit goodness that I won’t allow to go to waste, so I’ve been playing with new combinations and enjoying some classic ones. Here are some of my latest smoothie recipes.

Note: serving sizes vary depending on the quantities used, but in general, most of these make enough for two servings. And for all of these, blend all ingredients and enjoy!

Cantaloupe Summer Smoothie

 

Cantaloupe Summer Smoothie – when I got two cantaloupes in my weekly delivery, it was a must to create something delicious with them.

- 1/2 a medium cantaloupe
- 1 peach
- 1 nectarine
- 1 orange
- 1 packet stevia
- water, adjust quantity to achieve desired thickness

 

 

Chocolate Mint Goodness

 

Chocolate Mint Goodness – a favorite blend that reminds me of the holidays, delicious with the perfect hint of mint

- Chocolate flavored hemp protein powder
- Spearmint or Peppermint leaves
- 1 packet stevia in the raw
- 3 nectarines (I had a bunch that I needed to use, so this was my chosen application)
- water, adjust quantity to achieve desired thickness

 

 

 

Going Green... again

Going Green… again – I’m getting back to my, almost, daily green smoothies. This is a particular blend that I’ve been enjoying.

 

- 4 stalks kales
- 1/2 peach
- 1/2 nectarine
- 1 banana
- 1 packet stevia in the raw
- water, adjust quantity to achieve desired thickness

This morning, I turned this into a bit of mint bliss, by adding some peppermint leaves to it.

 

I’ve been enjoying trying out new smoothie combinations. I look forward to enjoying some more new blends very soon. What have you been enjoying for breakfast? Do you have any fruit combos you’d like to share?

A Yogini’s Knitting Corner

Jul 8, 2012   //   by Yoga Lisa DC   //   Blog, creativity, knitting, meditation, self-care  //  No Comments

Now that one big project is done and successfully mailed, I have been having fun with some small projects, before I get back to work on the two other big projects that I have in process. With a visit to meet my friend Liz’s 3 month-old daughter on the horizon, I decided I would make an attempt at making baby booties. I searched for a while through many patterns and although I found several that I liked, there were a couple that I decided to try.

the completed pair

The first pair was this cute pattern that look like slippers. I modified the pattern slightly by using a thicker yarn and larger needles. It calls for a DK weight yarn and size 5 needles. I used Caron Simply Soft in lavender blue and size 6 needles. As a result, the finished pair came out a little bigger than newborn size, probably closer to 12-18 months size. I loved using this yarn though, because the booties are a little stiffer and hold their shape really well.

before these were seamed

 

 

 

 

 

 

The pattern was really simple, knitted flat and then seamed to achieve the cute final shape. I love them so much that I’m hoping to play with the pattern a little and see if I can translate it into a pattern for adults. We’ll see how that goes later this summer.

the finished product

 

the first of the pair, before I found the ribbon for the little bows

After I finished this first pair, which went incredibly fast, I attempted the second pattern that I found. I really liked the first pattern, but I feel like they are a little bit feminine and I wanted to find a go-to pattern that I was more comfortable giving to little girls and boys.

This was another pattern that’s knit flat and then seamed. I used Patons Stretch Socks yarn in Carmel Cream Stripes and size 4 knitting needles. The pattern called for size 1 knitting needles and a fingering weight sock yarn.

the soles of these booties, coordinating and just too cute.

The result was two booties that coordinate, but don’t exactly match and I like that the pair turned out that way. And booties that appear to be close to a 3-6 month size, rather than newborn. I found it so easy to knit up and they look like little shoes. The shape was exactly what I was looking for in a go to that’s good for boys and girls.

coordinating, but not exactly matching, because of the yarn

 

 

 

 

 

For this particular pair, I happened to find the olive green ribbon on my desk at work, which worked perfectly for the little bows.

I cannot wait to give these to my friend’s daughter. I am so happy with the results and am looking forward to making some more pairs of these to have on hand as gifts. I love the shape, I think they these will also make great adult slippers, so I am going to experiment with other yarns and needle sizes, plus modifying the pattern to see if I can make a pair for me. One more project to add to the to-do list.

I’m so happy to be making more time for creative play and these quick projects. More will be coming soon.

Adventures in cooking… tropical chia smoothie

Jul 2, 2012   //   by Yoga Lisa DC   //   Blog, food  //  2 Comments

smoothie ingredients

I know, it has been just about forever since I last posted to my blog and although it’s not an excuse, I have been busy with life, work, and yoga, and booting up my laptop when I get home has been one of the furthest thoughts from my mind. Although it wasn’t all documented, June was a great month, filled with lots of accomplishments, new projects, and getting back on top of my 2012 intentions.

I’ve needed to get back on top of eating my 5 fruits and veggies a day, so I subscribed to Washington’s Green Grocer. It’s like a CSA, but there is no sign-up fee and I can easily adjust what I get in my box each week by using their website – both adding or changing out items that I prefer not to have. For a girl that doesn’t like to make time to head to the grocery store, it’s great and it is helping me eat healthy again. Since i get enough veggies from lunchtime salads, I receive the weekly mixed fruit box (combo of organic and conventionally grown fruits). My first box came filled with bananas, mangos, oranges, and blueberries and I spent the next five mornings (all the ones I was in DC for) enjoying my Tropical Chia Smoothies.

Tropical Chia Smoothie - bright yellow and delicious

This is another super simple, yet incredibly delicious chia smoothie. The ingredients:

  • 1 to 1 1/2 cups chia gel (2 tbls chia seeds to 1 cup water, whisked together and left in the fridge overnight)
  • 1 banana
  • 2 small oranges, peeled
  • 1 mango, peeled, pit removed
  • 2 packets stevia in the raw

I prepped the fruit (took about 10 minutes), loaded my Vitamix and that was it. It only took about 3 minutes in the Vitamix to blend and I had an incredibly delicious and nutritious breakfast.

I was excited about last week’s box (filled with blueberries, bananas, and grapefruits – I accidentally had declined to receive stonefruit, so no peaches or the like – i have since corrected that mistake) and when it arrived, I identified two new simple smoothie combinations. I’ve enjoyed a twist on this tropical chia smoothie, substituting a grapefruit for the oranges and frozen mango for the fresh. Since grapefruit is naturally more tart, it’s a little less sweet, but still delicious. And all the bananas aren’t going to waste, as I also enjoy Chocolate Chia Banana smoothies – 1 cup water, 1 cup chia gel, 1 banana, and 1 scoop chocolate Vega-One protein powder. It’s my version of my favorite Starbucks smoothie and I can’t get enough of it. I can’t wait to get this week’s box and see what new smoothie recipes I can come up with.

I’m happy with this decision that’s helping me get more fruits and veggies into my diet. How have you been getting your fruits and vegetables lately?

A Yogini’s Knitting Corner

Jul 1, 2012   //   by Yoga Lisa DC   //   Blog, creativity, knitting, meditation, self-care  //  No Comments

the finished blanket!!!

The month of June was a crazy month and my blog posting was “stunted” by lots of other things going on, including creative playtime. Some of that creative playtime has been spent finishing my niece’s baby blanket. It was an in process piece for a long time, and am proud to be able to say, that I will be mailing to her tomorrow. I knew I wanted to make her a blanket, the first ever blanket I’ve made and since it’s for her it’s that much more special.

It’s been quite and evolution…

the weekend I started the blanket and spent my art journaling afternoon working on it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

the work I'd put in when I visited in February to help my sister out with my nephews and niece.

 

 

 

 

the completed blanket... about the size of a throw

 

 

 

 

 

the 8 row by 8 stitch basketweave that makes up the pattern.

 

I knitted in the border in too, which was a 1 x 1 ribbing (all the knitters who read this will understand what that means).

I’m really excited that I completed this and even more excited that it’s something my niece will be able to have for a long time.

This was a longer term project, because it is rather big. It’s good to have one of these every few projects, but I do appreciate the “instant gratification” projects too – the ones that take less than 6 hours and you have a finished piece. In the next week I’m looking forward to more creative playtime and I’ll be working on a few of those projects, that will work up quickly plus some other things that I’ll be posting about as I finish them up.

Knitting continues to be a creative outlet and a source of great relaxation. I’m excited about what I’ll be able to work on over the next few weeks and seeing the little accomplishments, as I finish pieces for friends and family.

Have you made time for creative play recently?

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About Lisa

Auntie to two adorable little boys and a beautiful little girl. Sister. Friend. Yogini. Yoga teacher. Accountant. Knitter. Amateur photographer. Very amateur golfer.

Where to Find Lisa

Wednesdays, 8:30 p.m.
Yoga 1 (1 hour)*
Tranquil Space Arlington

Thursdays, 5:30 p.m. Yoga On-the-Go*
Thursdays, 7:00 p.m. Yoga 1*
Tranquil Space Arlington

Substitute Teach, As Needed*
Tranquil Space Arlington and Dupont

*Click here to make a reservation for any of these classes!

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