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8 Steps to Creating a Yoga & Art Therapy Practice

March 4, 2016

Yoga, art making and journaling combined with aromatherapy and music is a holistic multi-sensory experience that has the ability to open your body, mind, and soul for deep relaxation, self-reflection, and self-expression. Yoga and breath work help to relax and open the physical body and allows the thinking mind to slow down. Art making in this state enables access to a less guarded, less self-conscious part of yourself.

Here are some basic instructions for creating this practice at home:

1. Create a Safe Space

Creating a clean, comforting, safe environment is so important for any relaxation or healing to take place. If you’re at home, make sure you choose a private, tidy area that feels peaceful and calm, away from any distractions. Turn your phone on silent and put a sign on the door that says “do not disturb.” If you are out in nature, find a place that is quiet and beautiful! Set up a playlist that will last the duration of your session.

Lay out your yoga mat and have your art supplies within reach. Use whatever you have around, or get a watercolor palette, paintbrushes, water, paper towel, oil pastels, markers… etc. Anything goes! Trace a circle shape (use a bowl or a plate) onto a large sheet of watercolor paper to create a mandala. Have the paper handy so that you don’t have to get up after yoga.

2. Aromatherapy

Place a few drops of essential oil (favorites include: lavender, frankincense, lemon, and grapefruit) into the palm of your hand. Rub your palms together, sit up tall, close your eyes and take five deep breaths. Feel the root of your spine and your sitting bones sinking towards the earth and the crown of your head lifting towards the sky.

3. Journaling

Have a pen and paper handy and write stream of consciousness whatever is on your mind. Don’t judge your thoughts, just literally write — do this for at least two minutes, or as long as you like. It’s a great way to clear your head and drop into the present moment.

4. Yoga Practice

If you haven’t done much yoga, follow along to a dvd or youtube video. If you feel comfortable, let yourself flow– see what your body is craving and intuitively move through some sun salutations and feel-good stretches. Go as slow or as fast as your body is guiding you. Try to spend at least 20 to 30 minutes moving through your own sequence.

5. Meditation

After yoga, take a five-minute savasana or seated meditation. If you have a guided visualization that you like, play it for yourself. Or simply just relax in corpse pose (lying down in savasana) letting gravity take your weight completely.

6. Art Making

With your materials handy, go right into your creative process. Start drawing or painting in the center of the mandala and work your way out. Feel free to go outside of the circle and do not judge the process, be open to what comes up. Stay present to your breath as you create marks on the paper. Have some good music playing, and experiment with syncing the movement of your hand to the music.

7. Witness

Look at your art work and on a separate sheet of paper write down, stream of consciousness, whatever comes to mind. Write down questions, comments, references, associations and try to draw insight about yourself and the current moment from your art. Write without thinking, just put it on paper.

8. Reflect

Take a moment to observe how you feel after creating and if you feel any more relaxed, open, and inspired than you did before you sat down. Thank yourself for taking the time to nurture your body, mind and spirit.

Experience the power of creating art after a yoga practice on our How You Glow yoga retreat in Bali. Join us from March 26—April 2. Find out more. 

Certified Yoga Instructor and Art Therapist Jessie Groveman provides life-enhancing, enriching, and enlightening experiences to clients across the globe. She has made a name for herself in the industry, focusing on holistic multisensory healing, and through workshops that blend the practices of yoga with aromatherapy, meditation, journaling and art making. Groveman inspires people to live the most vibrant life possible.