Creative Mindfulness and Yoga with Kristiarne Wilson
1. Tell me about your dance history and how it has influenced your yoga practice?
As soon as I could walk my mum put me straight into dancing. Calisthenics, jazz, gymnastics, and ballet. Once I finished year 12 I went and studied dance full time at the Victorian College of the Arts. My second year into the course I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia and went onto to suffer from a lot of chronic back and muscular pain to the point where I had to stop dancing. This was a really tough time in my life as dancing had always been all I ever imagined doing. Desperate to find a practice that still allowed me to use my body - I found yoga. I remember practicing my first Vinyasa class and it felt like I was dancing again. I fell in love with how the breath and the poses worked together like a dance and how our body was given the freedom to focus on the actual experience of the posture rather than a pose to be performed. It was another way I could express every part of myself through movement and breath. Dance was always a way for me to share something I loved with my friends and my community, a way to unlock un-processed emotions, a way to be creative, spontaneous and playful. The more my yoga practice deepens, the more connected I feel to it.
2. Yoga is a form of art - do you agree?
Tough question! It’s important to clarify what art is to me as it has such a different meaning for each individual. To me - art is a creative process & a way of expressing every part of yourself. Yoga and art obviously have a lot of differences, but beyond those clear differences they both evoke an exploration into the human spirit that assists in bringing to the surface creativity and self-expression. The creative process has evolved and transformed through time and has always been a gateway for people to express themselves. Between beginning the process of making and finishing the art-work, the artist goes on a journey that takes them to many places that organically unfold in many directions, both consciously and sub-consciously. Yoga has a very similar process, it begins from an initial decision to step on your mat and use the inner tools of your body, the muscles, the bones, the breath to move and like art go on a journey from the beginning of your practice until the end. It offers the opportunity to express what is being felt and, like art, it can unfold both consciously and sub-consciously. This is where yoga transforms into an art form.
3. What’s inspires your creativity, whether it be, painting, dancing, yoga, drawing?
Depending on what’s around me, where I am, the mood or time of day or my state of body & mind will depend on what inspires me. Generally, when I’m building a yoga class I am always inspired by what I’ve been processing and experiencing energetically and mentally through the week as well as what my body has been craving in my own practice. My creative practice often begins from a place of spontaneity (usually when my daughters asleep) I have the time to get out all my art tools and experiment – and it isn’t until I stop drawing or painting that I realize what has been inspiring me. This is what I love about the process of being creative, and then it really becomes an organic expression of the inner self that spills out of you.
4. How can we build the courage to express what’s within?
This is a big question! I will talk from my experience. For me, the first step was deciding that I needed to investigate the most potent fears that were holding me back from expressing who I was beneath the anxiety and self-doubt. After I made that clear decision, I realised I needed to build some supportive and formal tools within me to begin to see the fears – this is when I discovered the power of both yoga and creative mindfulness to support this process. Both yoga, creative art and mindfulness training gave me the tools to build up the courage to see my negative core beliefs more clearly and to get to know them from a place of self-compassion rather than purely resistance and dread. Once I built up my capacity to be with the difficult thoughts and sensations, from a less-attached and more loving space, the more courage I had to begin to express myself from a more authentic space. As Jon Kabatt Zinn says, “It is very hard to practice being mindful when there is a lack of non-judgmental awareness along-side you.” The same attitude applies when building up the courage to express ourselves. First I believe we must work on building up loving kindness to give us the invitation to see what’s stopping us from being more courageous and expressing who we truly are. Once we begin to cultivate this attitude, we are on the pathway to expressing what’s within. Practice, practice, practice! It is not easy, I know I still have a long way to go.