As kids, we draw and dance to express ourselves and the newfound emotions that come with age. Teenagers are drawn to music, art, or dance to navigate the angst of adolescence. Adults choose a career path to make a difference, contribute to society, and hopefully receive praise and even reward.
These are different methods to reach the same resolution: self-expression. At any age, we all want to use our voices and for our voices to be heard.
According to Psychology Today, “Neuroscience is teaching us that ‘self-expression’ might be one – if not the most important -- ways [sic] for people to connect, navigate and grow with each other.”
We cannot always control or influence our work spaces, but we can choose activities that allow us to self-express within our own work and personal environment. Here at Yogaja Yoga Toledo, our herd shares five ways we practice self-expression.
Whether you have the skills of Beyonce or Steve Urkel, dancing can be so freeing.
“I love to use any type of movement to release pent-up energy," Donna Seed explains, and then she adds, laughing, "I like to dance like no one's watching...and only when no one's watching!!”
“Taking BUTI YOGA classes allows me to move freely and let go of any inhibitions I may have," says Adrienne Salon, yoga and elementary teacher who used to be a dancer. "I need to move. Buti allows for both static and dynamic movement during class and allows the freedom to move when a beat is dropped that you just can’t help but move to!”
“I do AERIAL YOGA because it gives me self confidence and grace. If I can do anything in the air, I can do it on the ground," reflects Brittany Wilkewitz, aerial yoga instructor and NASA engineer. "When I am able to self express, I can be happier around people and less stressed because it's an outlet for me.”
Michelle Ostermyer, Yogaja BODYART instructor, adds, “Any type of movement I feel helps an individual express themselves. Their body is able to speak through the movements."
“Movement is so healing,” Michelle continues. “We were designed to MOVE, and in this day and age, it’s not very common, unfortunately. You have to move every day to keep your body healthy.”
Whether you practice ashtanga, yin, hatha or any vinyasa flow, yoga can be a method to move our bodies in ways that we typically don’t on an everyday basis.
Donna Seed, yoga teacher and social worker, summarizes, “I love YIN and MEDITATION to slow my body and mind because they are both always in overdrive at work, so I seek the opposite expression/outlet.”
“I use yin and GENTLE YOGA to slow myself down," echoes Erin Marsh, yoga teacher and writer. "I love the POWER YOGA practices because I’m working so hard that I inevitably quiet my overactive mind. When you’re exhausted and focused on the practice, you don’t have time to obsess about the past or the future!”
Hope Dalrymple, yoga teacher and speech language pathologist, exclaims that “HANDSTANDS!” are her form of self-expression. She jokes, “Nothing like making gravity your b*tch when life gets you down.”
Whether you write as part of your career or journal for yourself, writing allows us to put words to thoughts and feelings we may not have necessarily analyzed.
Erin explains, “WRITING allows me to use a part of my brain that I don’t necessarily use on an everyday basis raising two little children. It also gives me the freedom to explore and learn about other perspectives. I feel especially rewarded when someone tells me that my words affected them in some way or they connected with what I wrote.”
Donna uses JOURNALING for similar reasons: “I love art journaling and writing to express my feelings, fears, challenges and dreams. Sometimes I write, sometimes I create collages in [my journal], [and] there’s some poetry.” She adds laughing, “And some pretty horrific drawings! My [artistic] talent is pretty horrific, but I do it anyway!”
Cooking is a chore for some and an art for others. Chloe Littzen, yoga teacher and nurse, gushes, “I cook! That’s my daily self expression and it winds me down from writing [and/or] reading dense academic content all day, and [it] allows me to explore other cultures (or take me back to them).”
Christopher Hartmann, yoga teacher, musician, and future massage therapist, explains his love for MUSIC perfectly:
“My mother is a classically-trained pianist, and some of my earliest and fondest memories are of sitting next to her on her piano bench while she played. I remember thinking early on…’This is MAGIC.’”
“The reason I love and practice music is the same reason I practice yoga,” Christopher continues. “The word ‘yoga’ means ‘union’-- union with the divine or to commune with our higher self. Music has always been the most direct way to achieve that ineffable, unnameable yoga, and I truly believe that the purpose of life--or at least my own life--is to attempt to live in that space of harmony and beauty that music itself represents.”
Christopher concludes, “Many things in life are pointing to that divine grace--for example, the blooming of a beautiful flower or the birth of a child. However, I think music is the most common and sought after way of communing with that higher order. If you think about the people in your life, how many of them dislike or have no interest in music? My guess is very few.”
Photos by Mary Wyar Photography.