Tag Archives: Writing Yoga Retreat

Writing Informs the Yoga. Yoga Informs the Weekend.

1warrior2-1As many of you may know, I co-lead a writing retreat each summer on Long Island, The Writing Yoga Retreat. It’s all kinds of good for oh so many reasons. And you don’t have to already do yoga to attend. “Why,” you may ask yourself, “would I want to do that?” Honestly? Because we do stuff at our retreat that you won’t find anywhere else. Seriously. Also, at the Writing Yoga Retreat you’ll learn how to bring something different to your writing, and learn new ways of looking at what you’re working on. Now you might say, “Oh yeah? Like what?”

Ok, so one of your choices for a one-on-one consultation is to work with Tarot cards. WHO ELSE DOES THAT?! Nobody. We’re not fortune telling or anything. We use the Tarot deck as a jumping off point to explore character, theme, setting. We’ve even done readings for our participants’ characters. Come on, how cool is that?

During the twice daily yoga (and you know I’m not one of the people at the early morning class, right?) our instructors tailor the class to each person’s skill level, with modifications for beginners and greater challenges for advanced practitioners. At the beginning of the class when the yoga teacher does a dharma talk, the teaching connects the yoga you’re doing with writing. Actually, writing and the writing process is kind of woven into the whole class. It’s fantastic.

There’s also a Participant Showcase like you’ve never experienced before. Imagine this: We go off site to a delicious Italian restaurant, where we have dinner in a private room and endless glasses of wine. You’re at a long table with these people who you now count as friends, and you have the opportunity to read your work. Not a critique. Not a workshop. You just read. And then bask in applause! Our past participants have told us this was the highlight of their weekend. Last year’s participants wrote adult fiction, YA, middle grade fiction, picture books, and memoir. It was amazing hearing their work!

Our dinner with editors is pretty darn cool, too. We have 2 adult editors and 2 kidlit editors join us for dinner. You know, just a casual, Friday night dinner with SOME OF THE TOP NYC EDITORS THAT THERE ARE. Sorry for shouting. I just really want you to get how cool this is. This year’s editors are Justin Chanda from Simon & Schuster, Jill Davis from Katherine Tegen Books/HarperCollins, Naomi Gibbs from Houghton, Mifflin, Harcourt, and Connor Guy from Metropolitan Books/Macmillan. I’m so psyched for this part, I can’t even…(Oh my! I just made that “squee” noise people write about.)

To get a more yoga-y view of the weekend, check out Stefanie Lipsey’s post at writingyoga.com. She’s my partner in Writing Yoga crime, the yin to my Writing Yoga yang. And for more detailed information or to apply, go to writingandyogaretreat.com. (FYI – We have people apply rather than just register so we can make sure that you already have a work in progress and a commitment to your writing. We’re not judging or assessing.)

Ok, any questions?

 

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Guest Blog: I’m Obnoxious & That’s Okay

swearing-at-workI’m not shy. This is not a shock for people who’ve met me. But I do suffer from a bit of social anxiety. It’s the anxiety of trying to be myself without being obnoxious. Turns out, that’s impossible.

That’s what I was thinking about all the way to the Writing Yoga Retreat last Thursday. I reminded myself of recent gaffes, of which there are plenty (I get it, Joe Biden).  While waiting to meet my contact at the train station, my nervousness grew and I considered keeping to myself all weekend. But then I wouldn’t enjoy myself, and what’s the point of that?

As I considered my options, I was greeted by a beautiful girl with a warm smile. She led me to her car, and I was certain that I needed a teeth check. I pulled down the visor of the passenger side and opened the cover of the vanity mirror. The cover came off in my hand. I tried to shove it back on as if it came off all the time, but that didn’t work. I can be a jerk without even speaking.

I apologized and she told me it was okay, I probably didn’t do. Then she smiled and said, “Well, you might have.” And her honesty put me at ease.

That was only the beginning of my ease. The entire retreat, though tightly scheduled, flowed easily. The wonderful facilitators, Linda Epstein and Stefanie Lipsey, were both friendly and accommodating. The attendees, a talented group of writers I felt so proud to be a part of, were a perfect mix of personalities and writing styles.  All of our needs were met with nothing expected of us except to write and nurture ourselves with yoga and decadent food.

And as for me, my obnoxious personality was not only accepted but welcomed. What a freaking relief! We were comfortable enough with one another to shed the ‘proper language’ and behave like a group of friends. Even the editors’ dinner felt like a dinner party with friends and not industry rock stars.

I returned home with sharpened focus and renewed confidence. But the most unexpected result of the retreat was the kinship I felt with the facilitators and attendees. Writing is an isolating thing. We spend much of our time in our heads. We’re reluctant to talk about feelings, or many things that are personal and important. We constantly express our innermost thoughts on paper, so talking about our feelings is just not a priority. Forming bonds with other writers in a setting like the Writing Yoga Retreat was therapeutic in a way that exceeded my expectations.

The tagline for the retreat was ‘Nurture Your Work in Progress, Nurture Yourself.’ I had no idea how true this would turn out to be.

facePenni Jones is a writer, mom, and caffeine addict. She specializes in women’s fiction set in the dirty south.

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Guest Post: Being a Writer by Natasha Sinel

nutella

First of all, thank you so much to Linda Epstein and Stefanie Lipsey for thinking up the Writing Yoga Retreat and then making it happen. And thank you to Twitter for showing me Linda’s tweet at the moment when I most needed it.

I write. I write as often as I can, which isn’t as much as I’d like – an hour here and there, maybe a full day if I’m trying to get revisions to my agent. I’ve written two novels and am hard at work on a third. But you know what? Even though I give myself time to write, I haven’t given myself time to be a writer.

Deep, right?

I applied to the Writing Yoga Retreat because I wanted more time to write. But, oh, it was so much more than that. For three days, I was a writer. I didn’t have anything on my schedule except writing, workshop, meals with writers, and of course, inspirational yoga. I had nothing to cook, no dishes to wash, no camp-pick-ups, nothing to get at Target, no reminders beeping at me. When I’m home, those details crowd me and even though I may have some time to write, I’ve barely got anything left.

I love that classic Gloria Steinem quote: Writing is the only thing that, when I do it, I don’t feel I should be doing something else. I feel that way. When I’m in a scene, I’m there, in the world of my characters, watching their actions and feelings unfold. No problem there. I can live in that moment. But for the rest of the day? Nope. Never. Maybe even never ever.

At the Writing Yoga Retreat, I was in the moment for the entire weekend. Magic. During yoga, I focused on the poses, my breathing, the sounds of cicadas and the soft prickly feeling of the grass underneath my mat. During workshop, I listened to Linda and Stefanie and my colleagues’ thoughts, and I dug into the exercises like it was a jar of Nutella. At meals, I enjoyed my food, guilt-free, and talked and laughed with my new friends. At our Writers’ Showcase, I actively listened as the super-talented writers shared their work, and I found myself walking around in their stories. At Friday night dinner, I sat between two phenomenally successful editors, and I learned that not only are they brilliant when it comes to books and the industry, they also have three-year-old sons who might just become singer-songwriters and they have loving moms who store two-thousand books for them in their garages.

I told my busy mind to shut up and I lived in the moment. I found peace.

I don’t know if I can sustain that peace – I came home to a leak in the ceiling, bills, and three boys, who, after the delicious welcome-home hugs, each wanted something from me. But I lived in that moment. I accepted it. I did the things they wanted without yearning to be doing something different. [Note: This feeling didn’t last past the first things they asked for, but let’s be realistic, who feels at peace getting your kid water or updating a game on the iPad]?

Natasha SinelEven though the perfect peace doesn’t necessarily last, I’ve made a promise to myself to be a writer, not just to make time to write. Oh, and I’ll be going back next year for more magic. Peace out.

Natasha Sinel is a YA writer represented by Leigh Feldman and Jean Garnett of Writers House.

 

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