Newport, RI Writing & Yoga Retreat (April 2-5, 2015)

Newport, RI Writing & Yoga Retreat (April 2-5, 2015) Join us April 2-5, 2015

Our Newport retreat offers the opportunity for writers of all genres and levels to work alongside award-winning authors & editors to hone their craft and expand their writing skills, while working on new or existing projects. Famous for its seafood and coastline, we chose this location for its inspiring beauty and history. During free sessions in the afternoon, take a mansion tour of gilded-era Newport, visit the Newport Museum, listen to some Newport jazz classics, or just relax beside the ocean watching the sailboats and let the stunning location influence your writing.

Tuition includes:

  • Shared room lodging
  • Daily creative writing workshops 
  • Craft seminars
  • One-on-one manuscript consultations
  • Toasts
  • An orientation dinner
  • A farewell brunch 
  • Yoga and meditation classes

During the retreat, writers and yoga practitioners will learn craft techniques alongside award-winning and internationally-renowned authors such asKathleen Spivack (fiction, poetry, nonfiction), Stephen Aubrey (playwriting, screenwriting), Rita Banerjee (poetry, fiction), & Diana Norma Szokolyai (poetry, nonfiction).  Yoga and meditation will be lead by Elissa Lewis

Included in the $650 tuition are all daily creative writing workshops, shared lodging, craft of writing seminars, one-on-one manuscript consultation, orientation dinner, toasts, and farewell brunch, plus daily yoga and meditation classes.  Shared room lodging is included. Please send us an email to inquire about partial attendance ($375 or $475 with shared lodging). Please inquire about optional add-ons include aromatherapy, massage, and reiki healing. There are limited seats for this workshop so apply early! There are limited seats, so apply early!  The extended deadline for admittance for our retreat is March 15, 2015. Apply at cww.submittable.com.

Newport1

Faculty includes internationally renowned author and writing coach Kathleen Spivack (fiction, poetry, nonfiction), Stephen Aubrey (playwriting, screenwriting),Diana Norma Szokolyai (poetry, nonfiction), Rita Banerjee (poetry, fiction), andElissa Lewis (yoga, meditation).

If you’d like to join us in Newport, please apply online at cww.submittable.comby March 15, 2015 and include $5 application screening fee along with a 5-page writing sample. (Due to limited seats, early applications are encouraged, but check for rolling admission after deadline, depending on availability).

applyExtended Deadline: March 15, 2015

Featured Faculty:

Stephen Aubrey is a Brooklyn-based writer, editor, dramaturg, lecturer, storyteller and recovering medievalist. His writing has appeared in Publishing Genius, CommonwealThe Brooklyn Review, Forté, Pomp & Circumstance,and The Outlet.  He is also a co-founder and the resident dramaturg and playwright of The Assembly Theater Company. His plays have been produced at The Ontological-Hysteric Theater, The Flea Theater, The Collapsable Hole, The Brick Theater, Symphony Space, the Abingdon Theater Complex, UNDER St Marks, The Philly Fringe and the Edinburgh Fringe Festival where his original play, We Can’t Reach You, Hartford, was nominated for a 2006 Fringe First Award.

Kathleen Spivack is the author of A History of Yearning, winner of the Sows Ear International Poetry Prize 2010, first runner up in the New England Book Festival, and winner of the London Book Festival; Moments of Past Happiness(Earthwinds/Grolier Editions 2007); The Beds We Lie In (Scarecrow 1986), nominated for a Pulitzer Prize; The Honeymoon (Graywolf 1986); Swimmer in the Spreading Dawn (Applewood 1981); The Jane Poems (Doubleday 1973); Flying Inland (Doubleday 1971); Robert Lowell and His Circle (2011) and a novel,Unspeakable Things. She is a recipient of the Allen Ginsberg Poetry Award 2010, the 2010 Erica Mumford Award, and the 2010 Paumanok Award. Published in numerous magazines and anthologies, some of her work has been translated into French. Other publications include The New Yorker, Ploughshares, The Atlantic Monthly, Poetry, Massachusetts Review, Virginia Quarterly, The Southern Review, Harvard Review, The Paris Review, The Kenyon Review, Agni, New Letters, and others. Her work is featured in numerous anthologies. She has also won several International Solas Prizes for “Best Essays.”

Diana Norma Szkoloyai is author of the poetry books Roses in the Snow andParallel Sparrows (Finishing Line Press). Her writing and hybrid art have appeared in Lyre Lyre, Dr. Hurley’s Snake Oil Cure, The Fiction Project, Teachers as Writers, Polarity, The Boston Globe, The Dudley Review, Up the Staircase, Area Zinc Art Magazine, Belltower & the Beach, and Human Rights News. Founding Literary Arts Director of Chagall Performance Art Collaborative and co-director of the Cambridge Writer’s Workshop, she holds an Ed.M from Harvard and an M.A. in French Literature from the University of Connecticut.

Rita Banerjee is a writer, and received her PhD in Comparative Literature from Harvard University. She holds an MFA in Poetry and her writing has been published in Poets for Living Waters, The New Renaissance, The Fiction Project, Jaggery, The Crab Creek Review, The Dudley Review, Objet d’Art, Vox Populi, Dr. Hurley’s Snake-Oil Cure, and Chrysanthemum among other journals. Her first collection of poems,Cracklers at Night, was published by Finishing Line Press in 2010 and received First Honorable Mention for Best Poetry Book at the 2011-2012 Los Angeles Book Festival. Her novella, A Night with Kali, was digitized by the Brooklyn Art-house Co-op in 2011. She is a co-director of the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop, and her writing has been recently featured on HER KIND by VIDA: Women in Literary Arts and on KBOO Radio’s APA Compass in Portland, Oregon.

Elissa Lewis is the Yoga & Arts Coordinator of the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop.  She began her journey with yoga in 2006, when she moved to France and made the practice part of her daily routine. She saw yoga as a lifestyle, not only a class, helping her to clear her mind and have more compassion for herself and others. In 2010 she moved to New York and completed her teacher training at Laughing Lotus, a creative, soulful yoga studio that teaches the student to ‘move like yourself.’ She’s taught private and group classes in Manhattan and Brooklyn ever since. Visit her website for informative yoga sequences and information.

The Symbiotic Magic of Yoga and Writing: Essay and Interview by Jessica Reidy

Retreat, Ritual, and a Chat with the Women of the Cambridge Writers’ WorkshopBy Jessica Reidy QuailBellMagazine.com

*Note: Though the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop Summer Yoga & Writing Retreat at the Château de Verderonne, France. Admissions are rolling until filled and there are still a few spaces. Apply A.S.A.P.

Photo: Rita Banerjee

 20140520-100858.jpg

20140520-100858.jpg

We hear that writers are crazy and miserable people. I don’t necessarily mean crazy in the clinical, mental illness sort of way, though sometimes we are that too. “Writer crazy” is that unspecified, wild-eyed, solitary unhappiness exalted and romanticized in films, books, television, plays, songs…because what could be more romantic than the manic sadness of a tragic visionary who collapses under her own magnificent world? It’s a blessing and a curse. Meanwhile, my friends who are doctors, therapists, and psychologists vehemently assure me that artists who struggle with mental illness are usually less productive or entirely unproductive in periods of illness compared to their periods of stability, wellness, or recovery. While instability and isolation do not support sustained prolific creativity, fortunately, the road to “You can get it!” is paved with easily accessible self-care and support. It’s just a matter of finding the practices and communities that support you.

Some quotes from “The Symbiotic Magic of Yoga and Writing“–

Robert Olen Butler, Pulitzer Prize winner and author of The Christopher Marlowe Cobb Thriller Series, argues that ritual is the key to creating art. In From Where You Dream: the process of writing fiction, he explains that you must prepare for writing by entering a trance and focusing on the breath in a quiet space, much like the centering meditation of a yoga class. Once you’re there and centered, you must stay present with sensation and allow yourself to create directly and organically from that “dream space.” Like in yoga, you set an intention to stay open to all experience and at the same time, remain unattached to ideas, hence the popular mantra, “I am not my mind.” Butler writes that the best art comes from this “moment to moment sensual experience,” and “non-art” is full of summarized or intellectualized reported experience.

Those “moment to moment sensory experience[s]” are much more nuanced than you’d think—all the available senses are involved. In my Yoga Teacher Training at Kripalu, I learned that the body holds memories, a phenomenon addressed in the study of somatics, a branch of psychology that examines the mind-body connection. In certain poses, you may feel spontaneously happy, sad, angry, frightened, blissful—you may be flooded with memories, sensations, and epiphanies. You may weep or laugh without knowing why (or knowing all too well why). Stay with present if you can: breathe, relax, feel, watch, allow (or BRFWA). Your body is releasing trapped energy, memories, and emotions—parts of your past that you have been carrying unconsciously, perhaps as tension, shortness of breath, pain, or anxiety. What does the experience feel like, smell like, look like, sound like, and taste like? The information you need to have a cathartic experience is the same information you need to create one on the page. Butler argues that in order to make art, we have to dive into the unconscious mind, confront whatever pain dwells there, and use that intense awareness to write from the “white hot center.” This is just another way to access the unconscious.

Jessica: What are some of your favorite yoga poses, breathing exercises, and/or meditations for stimulating (or sustaining) creativity?

Elissa: To increase creativity and flow, hip-openers like Pigeon pose and Lizard pose (Uttan Pristhasana) are my favorite. When you release tension in your hips, you also release the emotions that come bubbling up. The hips and pelvis are related to the Svadisthana chakra and the water element which governs the area of creation and creativity. These postures help clear writer’s block by encouraging creative energy to flow without over-efforting.

Also, Nadi Shodana pranayama (also called alternate nostril breathing) is a wonderful breathing technique to begin or complete your practice and is appropriate for anyone. It stimulates a daydream-like state, where our senses draw in (called pratyahara) and we can disengage from the external world. It helps us develop the focus and concentration needed in meditation. I think any meditation that works for you is excellent. Meditation is the key to open the mind to inspired creative thought. It brings you back to yourself, to moments of truth, without mind chatter, self-criticism and self-consciousness.

Jessica: How does community support your yoga practice and/or artistic practice?

Norma: The image of the solitary writer is deeply rooted in the romanticized myth of the lone, genius writer. In truth, most great writers were part of communities comprised of other writers, intellectuals, and artists that inspired each other. Many great literary movements and unforgettable manifestos came out of the collaboration of such communities of writers….In addition to encouragement, support, and critical feedback, I think one of the most powerful things a community can offer a writer is accountability. If you know that people are counting on you, then you are more likely to follow through. Whether your goals are short term or long term, a community can hold you to your word.

Of course, the same principles apply to a community supporting one’s yoga practice.

For the rest of the essay/interview: http://www.quailbellmagazine.com/the-real/essay-the-symbiotic-magic-of-yoga-and-writing

Restore, Nourish and Cleanse

http://wp.me/P3MSKY-1N Please enjoy exploring these restorative yoga poses, each has its own benefits and qualities. All of the poses relieve stress by first calming and grounding and then taking students into a deep state of relaxation. Restorative yoga is healing, as it stimulates and soothes organs.

Through yoga, we are trying to move out of the sympathetic nervous system, which kicks in at times of crisis. Imagine you see tiger coming towards you. Your heart begins to pound, you start to sweat, your breath becomes rapid. This is the sympathetic nervous system. We often create stressful situations for ourselves, leaving us in a state of heightened alert. This causes a lot of stress and dis-ease in our bodies, because our bodies don't know the difference between the real tiger and the a non life threatening stressors.

We want to calm the sympathetic nervous system so that the parasympathetic nervous system is operating well. The parasympathetic nervous system maintains and conserves body energy and directs "housekeeping" activities such as breathing, digestion and elimination and hormone balance. It only operates well during times of low stress.

As we relax in these restorative poses, we learn to shift ourselves into a more concentrated parasympathetic existence in life. We move away from dis-ease and into ease. Times of high anxiety or stress are the times you can most benefit from the healing aspects of a restorative practice. Take care to support passive postures with props in such a way that feels grounded, safe, and integrated. Stay in each pose for up to 15 minutes. Even a few minutes will make a difference. When your body feels completely supported, let your attention turn toward your breath. Like an ocean wave, each breath will rise and fall on its own.

 IMG_6050

IMG_6050

 20130811-234054.jpg

20130811-234054.jpg

Bed of Nails

You will need:

~12 blocks

~2 medium pillows

Getting into the pose:

Place two blocks (mid height) length-wise on the mat, then cover with a pillow. This will be at the top of the mat, to support your head. Place four blocks in a row, (mid height) length-wise on the mat, then cover with a pillow. This will be in the middle of the mat to support the mid and low back. Place one block (mid height) on either side of your body, about a foot out from the hips. This will support the back of your forearm. Place another block next to it to rest the back of your hands and the wrist on the blocks. Finally, place one block (mid height) under each ankle.

 20130812-000909

20130812-000909

Viparita Karani

You will need:

- A bolster, a folded blanket or a pillow

Getting into the pose:

This pose is simple. Start with your support about 5 to 6 inches away from the wall. Sit sideways on right end of the support, with your left side of your body against the wall (left handers can substitute "left" for "right" in these instructions). Slide your right hand away from the wall as you transition to lying down. Swing your legs up onto the wall and rest your shoulders and head down onto the mat. The bolster supports the middle of the sacrum and bottom tips of the shoulder blades. If you feel irritated in the mid-low back, play with the legs you can drop them open to baddhakonasana or bend the knees to a squat.

1st variation: Once in legs up the wall, bend your legs into a cross-legged position.

2nd variation: Once in legs up the wall, open the legs into a V-shape. Feel the thigh falling into the hip socket with gravity.

3rd variation: Once in legs up the wall, open the knees, press soles of feet together. This is the baddhakonasana version.

4th variation: Legs up the wall in bed, with a pillow under your sacrum. So convenient!

Stay in this pose anywhere from 5 to 20 minutes. I recommend 20 minutes to get the full effects. To come out, You can bend your knees and push your feet against the wall to lift your pelvis off the support. Then slide the support to one side, lower your pelvis to the floor, and turn to the side. Stay on your side for a few breaths, and come up to sitting.

Benefits:

This is really the most therapeutic pose in yoga, once you get used to it, you'll want to do it all the time. It's an amazing relief to the entire body, all the venous return easily returns to heart, so that your body doesn't need to work to pump the blood from your lower body up to heart. It's really good if you spend a lot of time on your feet, if you have varicose veins, if your ankles tend to be swollen or if you have jet-lag. Viparita Karani opens the chest to breathe and lets the heart work efficiently.

 20130811-234715.jpg

20130811-234715.jpg

 20130811-234851.jpg

20130811-234851.jpg

Supta Baddhakonasana

You will need:

~12 blocks total: 4 blocks-lower back, 2 block for head, 4 blocks for hands and 2 blocks for arms.

~4 medium-sized pillows

Getting into the pose:

Place four blocks in a row (mid height) length-wise on the mat, then cover with a pillow. This will be in the middle of the mat to support the mid and low back. Sit with your back to the short, low-end of the bolster. Bring the soles of your feet together, and butterfly your thighs open. Place a medium-sized pillow under each knee for support. Gradually extend your stay anywhere from five to 10 minutes. To come out, use your hands to press your thighs together, then roll over onto one side and push yourself away from the floor, head trailing the torso.

Benefits:

Supta Baddhakonasana opens the whole front of the body: the pelvis, belly, heart, and throat. These are areas we instinctively protect, which is why a pose like this can leave one feeling exposed and vulnerable. Besides the calming factor, this pose improves digestion, stretches your diaphragm, intercostal muscles and abdominal muscles. In addition, it aids in relieving menstruation discomfort.

 20130811-235047.jpg

20130811-235047.jpg

 IMG_5690

IMG_5690

Restorative Fish Pose

You will need:

~2 medium sized pillows

~6 blocks

Getting into the pose:

Place 5 blocks (mid height) length-wise on your mat, then place a 6th block (low height) at the end, where your lower back will be resting. Cover all the blocks using two pillows. Sit in front of the block on the lowest height with your legs out in front of you. Make sure your head will also be on the support. Keep the hips as close to the support as possible. Relax as your back gently bends back and your chest and heart open.

Benefits:

Restorative fish pose is great for upper back, neck and shoulder pain. This positioning aids in Softening the muscles between the shoulder blades and releasing tension in jaw, neck, shoulders, and upper back. It opens the chest, increasing lung capacity and realigns muscles for improved posture, especially shoulders rolling forward. It activates of thymus gland stimulates the body's immune function.

 20130811-235455.jpg

20130811-235455.jpg

 20130811-235534.jpg

20130811-235534.jpg

Restorative Twist

You will need:

~6 blocks

~2 medium sized pillows

Getting into the pose:

Stack all 6 blocks (mid height) in a row. Sit with one hip flush up against the support at a 90 degree angle with your knees bent and legs to one side. Keep the spine as long as possible as you twist your torso gently toward over the support. Walk you hands forward on either side of the support and gently rest your belly and chest down on it. Your arms will fall to both sides of the support as you surround with your arms in a hugging fashion. Turn the head to one side, alternating sides halfway through the pose. On each exhalation, feel the back body expand; on each exhalation, feel the support under the chest and belly. Stay in the pose for 5-10 minutes.

Benefits:

Massages your abdominal organs, stimulation digestion and detoxification. Wrings tension out of the muscles along the spine.

 20130811-235745.jpg

20130811-235745.jpg

Restorative Child's Pose

You will need:

~6 blocks

~2 medium sized pillows

Getting into the pose:

Set up 6 blocks (mid height) in a row, then cover with two pillows. Kneel on the mat, then separate your knees so that they are hugging the support close to your body, the arms gently fall to your sides. Turn your head to the side that feels more comfortable. Melt into the cushion as you breathe deeply and let go.

Benefits:

This gentle forward bend nourished the nervous system by relieving anxiety, while creating a restful state for those with insomnia. It helps release low back tension and opens the hips. It's tightly wrapped shape envelops the front of the body, allowing us to soften and release protective holding patterns in the abdomen.