After nearly two years of taking Gina Dunn’s yoga class at WeYogis, I’ve been lucky to witness the evolution of her craft, not only as an instructor but as an artist. I studied from her while completing my certification under Cheryl Oliver and Julie Boyd this past year, and picked up on why and how she sequences her 75 minute vinyasa class. Coming from a dance background and speaking in dance terms, I depict her more as a choreographer/instructor if you will. Although she changes the dynamic through her creative sequencing and music, she manages to stay true within the framework of the ancient practice. Her classes have become increasingly popular and no two are ever the same. I chatted with her this past Tuesday after her class and we got on the subject of creativity..
Here are Gina’s thoughts on how it translates to yoga:
“So how are yoga and creativity connected? After all, one is a physical and mental discipline, and the latter a manifestation of innovative thoughts and ideas. But what seems like two divergent roads, is in fact deeply intertwined. Both lead to a new-found way of thinking and seeing the world.
Yoga empowers physically, teaching practitioners to take risks, and in the path of discovering their intelligent physical edge they learn that it is ok to try and succeed or perhaps to fail, and to release attachment to results and become focused in the moment. This same courage is required in creative thinking. One thing that severely hinders the creative process is the need to control it. Yoga helps practitioners surrender ego and give into the creative process. Drop the ego and immediately one is less defensive, more open-minded and more creative. This itself a practice, much like yoga.
The meditative aspect of yoga helps eliminate unnecessary thoughts cluttering the mind, freeing up valuable mental real estate for imagination to reside. When the mind is clear, ideas flow easily and freely. The well of inspiration is never dry, but it is often murky with layers of constant distraction. Parts of our brain and our consciousness can be numbed by routine and the autopilot of day-to-day. Through the practice of mindfulness in yoga, practitioners develop a deeper perception of the layers, possibilities, mysteries and miracles of life. It’s is comparable to walking around with glasses that had Vaseline smeared on them, and with time (practice) the Vaseline disappears and all becomes clear. Yoga offers a way to see the world with heightened technicolor awareness.
The breathing techniques practiced in yoga also help keep the chatter of the mind’s nagging thoughts and negativity at bay. A mind free of dark thoughts breeds organic and clever ideas without playing devil’s advocate and dismissing what may be constructive or worthwhile. Interestingly, yoga offers insight to a higher plane of thinking when in the process of creating. Rather than being swept away by thoughts, the practitioner is trained to become the watcher of the thoughts. Mental alertness and energetic planes of experiencing the word are intensified.
It’s important to realize that creativity needn’t necessarily be painting, sculpting or writing a novel, one can be a creative in the smallest endeavors from doing chores to planning out an afternoon to creatively solving strategic decisions that influence households and companies. People are creative when the things they do are executed with passion, imagination, a sense of humor or a new approach. Creativity is a way of life that is intuitively guided, leading us to make connections to self and others in interesting ways. Yoga teaches us that we are the Artist as well as the Art.” –GMD
Gina Marie Dunn is an Artist, Yogi, and a teacher of both. By living creatively, she hopes to share the happiness that comes from existing “outside the lines” with both her family and her students. In turn, the students remind her to take risks, create from a place of freedom, and most of all enjoy the process and beauty of this journey.
Follow her painting at www.ginamariedunn.com and her yogi adventures/teaching schedule at www.asanadealers.com. She teaches at various studios in Dallas, and you can find me on Tuesdays at her 9:15 class at WeYogis.
Thank you lovely Gina, for taking the time to express your thoughts and your artistry with us.
See you on the mat.