I love a good yoga class, almost as much as I love a good story.
It was while pondering this notion (in Shavasana) that I had the following earth-shattering revelation: I love both writing and yoga because they are one and the same! Structurally, I mean. The elements of a good story must also take place in a good yoga class, or it will fall flat on its face (like I do when attempting crow pose).
Here are the five ways a good story resembles yoga:
1) The hook. At the beginning of yoga, the teacher will look at you while oozing serenity and say something to the effect of, ”Like it or not, here’s what you’re going to learn today.” Stories do this same thing by serving up something scary, jarring, or uncomfortable. They put you squarely into a problem, one that (you hope) will be unraveled by the end.
2) Warm me up, lest I break. With the hook, I’m given a dose of what I’ve come for. Now it’s time to move some blood around, so I don’t pull a hammy. Here’s where I’m shown characters, voice, and plot—the yoga equivalent of sun salutations.
3) Vascillation. I suck at yoga! Wait, I should be an instructor! I’m so flexible! Actually, I’m a starfish! In this part of a both yoga and story, we don’t know what we want, who we love, or why we are still on this planet. Because when we aren’t ecstatic, everything aches.
4) The test. Did we succeed or fail? Win or lose? Or did we leave with a lesson we had no intention of learning? In yoga, this will usually resemble some type of inversion.Today it was the flying pigeon. But on this day, all the flapping, twisting, stretching, and breathing wouldn’t get this bird out of the coop. In a story, we are also turned upside down. Tension is at its peak because this is the last shot at the goal we think we have, the final chance to tuck that ribbon into our pocket and move on. We are sweating, focused, riveted because success or failure comes down to this moment right here, right now.
5) Release the heat. Now I can breathe with my mouth open again and review what I learned. In yoga, perhaps my intended physical goal was not realized but I instead I gained a clearer picture of my true strength, a greater appreciation for my purpose. If I’m lucky, I may have gotten a longer glance at the fleeting fairy of inner peace. In both yoga and story, this is where we acknowledge why we came and recognize that we will come again, to breathe in more of this feeling, to twist ourselves into even more unlikely contortions, and to, once again, (attempt to) take flight. And, once our story is over and if we have done this right, we get to say Namaste to strength, hope, improbability, and magic.
Photo Credit: https://pixabay.com/en/yoga-headstand-cat-1726228/