I’ve done yoga for decades. I say ‘done’ but in many ways, the ‘doing’ words don’t work. While yoga can be a ‘doing’, it is also a being. A being present to my body, a being with myself, a being in flow, in rhythm, in breath. A mindbody-bodymind being.
I’ve been writing for decades too. My 17th novel, Lullaby Beach, came out last year. I don’t think writing is only a ‘doing’ either. When I’m very into the work of a book or story, whether that’s first draft or edits, it’s always there, somewhere beneath what else I’m doing, moving alongside me in my daily life.
I’m at the end of my third year of a four-year doctorate in Existential Psychotherapy. Alongside the practical work and theoretical training, I am beginning my research project into the embodied experience of being postmenopausal – ie, not the story of the symptoms or the to-HRT-or-not dilemmas (both of which seem to be the prime focus of most menopause research), but what it’s like to live postmenopause, the long and fruitful rest of our lives. This too, sits with me all the time, an embodied wondering that will (eventually) take form in the embodied writing of my thesis.
Yoga helps my writing. Yoga supports me to be writing. I’ve known this for ages and have often incorporated breath work or physical offers when I teach writing workshops. And so I chose to train to teach yoga, not to be a yoga teacher solely, but to bring yoga more centrally into my writing workshops.
Over the past couple of years I taught a yoga-for-writing workshops monthly with the support of lovely Level Six in Peckham, sadly no longer operating – for now!
People tell me the workshops work for them – in non-fiction writing as well as fiction, for academic writing and for people who have never written before. Each time the offer changes a little and I have made an effort to adjust sequences for attendees with specific physical challenges.
The yoga flows are intentionally low-key and lead into writing exercises that match the energy we’re awakening in our bodies. Just as there is no studying each others’ yoga poses, nor is there any reading out loud – it’s a workshop, a playtime, an allowing.
If this sounds like something you’d like to try, there’s an online workshop coming up:
Online on Saturday 26th November, 10-1pm – book here. The booking will then send you the link for the workshop. (Let me know if you have any trouble booking – email here.)
NB – you will be asked for your address and phone number when you sign up, this is for my insurance and will be kept confidentially, never shared.
And here’s some lovely things people have said about my workshops:
“The confidence Stella instils, not only to create stuff that’s good, but in not being fearful of creating stuff that’s not so good, is wonderful. And combining that with the bodywork was ridiculously liberating.”
Amy Beashel, author of “The Sky is Mine”
“Skilled teaching, so much generosity, wisdom, embodied practice, cutting through bullshit, encouragement and expertise-dressed-as-nurture. One of those experiences where I’ll still be mining for riches long after it’s over. If you get the chance to work with Stella and absorb this integrated work she’s forging I can highly, highly recommend it.”
Beccy Owen, songwriter/musician
I hope you won’t mind my writing this here. I’ve been so excited to follow your progress, as I have taken a strangely similar path to yours: moving from an academic career (my doctorate was on Proust and the strange arts of self-justification), into writing, with side departures into change management, education research, coaching.
Following treatment for early breast cancer, and the death of my mother, I decided to train as a yoga teacher, and am currently completing a training with Triyoga, precisely with the intention of teaching yoga with writing in various ways.
I’m so fascinated by the sound of your doctoral work on the ’embodied experience of being postmenopausal,’ in relation to Existential Psychotherapy, it sounds brilliant. But not just this — your amazing work on the Fun Palaces, with the Women’s Equality Party, and your incredible writing productivity. It amazes me.
I co-moderate an online discussion group called Hot Ladies, for women to debate menopause and midlife questions, which is stuffed full of creatives, artists and writers. It’s been running for 4.5 years and has evolved into a supportive, enquiring entity which has seen women from peri to meno to post-menopause. A lot of swearing, a lot of laughing, some rage, some grief, mostly tapping into a kind of quiet power we didn’t know was waiting for us at the end of menarche. I sometimes think the group is suspended between the Furies and Baubô —between a simmering desire for revenge on the society that has mauled us, and the simple joy and mirth of having made it this far.
I wonder, would you be at all interested in speaking to the Hot Ladies at an online event, perhaps about Lullaby Beach, perhaps about your doctorate, perhaps teaching a sequence with an opportunity to journal? I realise you must be hugely busy, but if this sounds at all appealing, would you be able to let me know who I should approach about the logistics side of things?
Warmest wishes, Ingrid
Hi Ingrid, yes I’d love to do something with your group. That ‘quiet power at the end of menarche’ is what I’m imagining might be something I’ll find in the research. It’s certainly the experience I have had, along with many of my peers – it’s also been lovely, having been menopausal since chemo in my mid 30s, to have my friends catch up with me! I’d be happy to get a date and make a plan to talk about all of the above. If you can give me your email, I’ll contact directly. (If you add an email reply here I will delete it so it’s not public.)
Hi Stella, I was sorting through some old papers today and found the programme notes for your performance of Breaststrokes in Cardiff that I did the lighting for. I remember what a great day we had together and just wanted to take a moment to send love your way…
ah, thank you. how lovely of you to say. I remember that performance and the conversations afterwards. it was really lovely.
Hello Stella! I would very much like to be present at your yoga for writing workshop in Nov 26th/22.
I’m not sure that I’d be able to make it at 3am Pacific time. If I register, will I be able to view a recording of the class, or must I be there live?
Thank you so much!
I really enjoyed listening to you talk on the Hagitude Sessions podcast!
Love to you. 💜