Knitting Is The New Yoga.
Some of you may know that in addition to my knitting interests, I’m a bit of a yoga lover. (Let’s be honest, I’m a Gemini, I’m interested in all kinds of things!)
Last year, I went through yoga teacher training as a way to give myself an assignment on personal growth. I had found myself stressed to the max with business ownership and the hours I was keeping not only at the old shop, but up all night working on marketing plans, exhausted but unable to sleep. I needed an escape.
Knitting had been that escape, but in late 2015 I was in a knitting funk. I wasn’t enjoying it for myself anymore. It felt like deadlines for the shop, and it was heartbreaking to realize. I decided a commitment to some other kind of enjoyment for myself was necessary. In all honesty, I hadn’t been taking very good care of myself, either, so yoga was a perfect prescription.
I had been doing yoga even longer than knitting, but not very regularly until I had this realization about carving out some space to decompress. Because I can’t do anything in a mild manner, I decided to signup for Yoga Teacher Training with Emery Bryant. Over the course of 2016, I was immersed in one weekend a month of training, books and videos to watch, honing my personal practice, and learning how to teach yoga, even though I didn’t originally think I would.
What I found out, blew me away. Now, I had read articles about the mental and stress benefits of yoga, but I had previously viewed it mostly as exercise. I had even read a couple of articles likening it to knitting, and other mindfulness practices. Until I dove in headfirst, I hadn’t experienced this.
One of our training weekends, we were discussing “What is Yoga?” To me, this was totally intriguing because I didn’t know there were so many different kinds, styles, shapes and ways to practice. I didn’t know if it could be summed up by a single over-arching theme. Our instructor had included in our training an excerpt from one of my favorite books, “Eat Pray Love,” by Elizabeth Gilbert, and that day, it stopped me dead in my tracks:
“The Yogic path is about disentangling the built-in glitches of the human condition, which I’m going to over-simply define here as the heartbreaking inability to sustain contentment.”
She later continues, “Yoga is about self-mastery and the dedicated effort to haul your attention away from our endless brooding over the past and your nonstop worrying about the future so that you can seek, instead, a place of eternal presence from which you may regard yourself and your surroundings with poise. Only from that point of even-mindedness will the true nature of the world (and yourself) be revealed to you.” (Gilbert, 2007) (Emphasis mine)
This definition of yoga clicked. Although I had read this book years ago, I didn’t remember this passage. I had never regarded yoga as anything other than physical movement. This day, I realized, that’s what my knitting had been for me. “A place of eternal presence from which you may regard yourself and your surroundings with poise.” It brought me to the moment, appreciative of the materials in my hand, the design in my head, the simple joys around me. I had let that get mucked up by the pressures of work, self-imposed deadlines, letting my mind wander to my endless to-do list.
This realization that Knitting IS Yoga, or anything can be if we let it, changed my perspective. It helped me to see that part of the stress I was feeling was to do with the fact that I was rarely present with what I was doing. My mind was wandering over to the thoughts that kept me up at night.
It happened slowly, but I eventually re-claimed my knitting for me. I let myself off the hook. I started the Yarn Year Round Club as a passion project because I wanted to design things start to finish as simply a creative outlet. I wanted to finish the thing and wear it, take it home with me, not leave it at the shop as a sample. I began listening to podcasts or music while knitting to give my brain something positive to focus on, until I could bring myself back to knitting for the pleasure of it.
It eventually happened, and I also eventually realized that I had to teach yoga. I had to help others enjoy the process of connecting back to their breath, their movement, the small still voice within. I now teach a class on Friday mornings in Carthage, MO at Yoga 4U. Yoga has permeated so many of the things I do. I now view putting up the dishes as an opportunity to just be there. Appreciate the beautiful things that fill my life each and every day.
It is not always easy, and it is not always possible, but little by little my knitting and yoga obsessions are teaching me to be present in the moment.
What about you? Do you find that knitting brings you to the present moment? Have you tried yoga and found that it has similarities to knitting?
Leave a comment here on the blog and share your experience!
Until next time, Happy Knitting (& yoga!)
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