Why Paint Yoga?
I've always loved to create artwork. I was always working on something in high school, but somewhere I started believing that my art wouldn't pay the bills and neglected it. I did some jewelry making a decade or so ago, but I can't say that was ever profitable, and it's slow going trying to clear the old inventory and catalogue the leftover supplies. A couple years back I decided to take a painting class because I thought it would be relaxing and I might learn something new, and I did have an opportunity to learn something different than I had expected. When that experience wasn't what I had hoped for, I tried Paint Nite, the original painting party, and while wonderful, also left something to be desired for me.
I attended a couple of Paint Nite classes at the beginning of my Yoga Teacher Training last year. As I said, I really did enjoy the outing, but what I realized I want out of a painting class isn't so much about learning color theory or a new technique, and it isn't about going out to a bar or restaurant with other noises and distractions, but to be able to have a time carved out and dedicated to artwork, and to connect with other artists working in the same time and place.
What we tend to think of when discussing "yoga class" is a set of asana and/or vinyasa, poses and movements for the purpose of physical fitness. Some of us look forward to the savasana, nap, at the end of a class, but that's typically it for the higher branches of meditation offered in traditional yoga. In fact there are many kinds of yoga that don't even involve any poses, but are focused on singing, study, and performing selfless service in the community. Ultimately what "yoga" really means is to get connected. You can get connected to your inner inspiration in a physical practice, through study, worship, repetitions of all kinds of mantras and affirmations.
I think one of the reasons I like the philosophy of yoga so much is the universalist and agnostic nature of it. When a yogi tells you any suggestion in class or private session, this is never a prescription, or absolute fact, but an offering to try for yourself. Even the potentially dogmatic codes of conduct are merely suggestions to avoid unneeded interference. Paradoxically, It seems to western thinkers, we're using detachment as a means of connection. Note that connection is NOT attachment, but the pinnacle of detachment in yogic teachings. We use the detachment from outcome, from our senses, etc. as a means to be connected to who and what we really are. Some say what we are is the present moment, and everything else is an illusion.
I was at the Yoga Farm during a retreat weekend, and the idea of Paint Yoga came to me. Originally I wasn't really clear about what it means - I had the Paint Nite format in mind combined with "yoga" in our western phys ed connotation. Now that I've completed my yoga teacher training and other certifications such as the Cuddlist and the Cuddle Party Facilitator, I have had the opportunity to really study and value the whole range of yogas. With this broadened perspective on what the experience can be, I invite you to give yourself the opportunity to test that hypothesis by engaging in this relaxing experience.
I'll be hosting a small Paint Yoga class at my home on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. I only have room for 6, so sign up early!