Yoga Minds, Writing Bodies: Contemplative Writing Pedagogy
Christy I. Wenger
Education & Teaching
Yoga Minds, Writing Bodies: Contemplative Writing Pedagogy

In Yoga Minds, Writing Bodies, Christy Wenger argues for the inclusion of Eastern-influenced contemplative education within writing studies. She observes that, although we have "embodied" writing education in general by discussing the rhetorics of racialized, gendered, and disabled bodies, we have done substantially less to address the particular bodies that occupy our classrooms. She proposes that we turn to contemplative education practices that engages student bodies through fusing a traditional curriculum with contemplative practices including yoga, meditation, and the martial arts. Drawing strength from the recent "quiet revolution" (Zajonc) of contemplative pedagogy within postsecondary education and a legacy of field interest attributable to James Moffett, this project draws on case studies of first-year college writers to present contemplative pedagogy as a means of teaching students mindfulness of their writing and learning in ways that promote the academic, rhetorical work accomplished in first-year composition classes while at the same time remaining committed to a larger scope of a writer's physical and emotional well-being.

Available in paperback and hardcover from Parlor Press.

Preface In the beginning, there is no substitute for sweat.
Introduction: From the Sticky Mat to the Classroom: Toward Contemplative Writing Pedagogy What we cannot imagine cannot come into being
Chapter One: The Writing Yogi: Lessons for Embodied Change [It’s] not that I always write about the body, though I often do, but that I always write, consciously, as a body. (This quality more than any other, I think, exiles my work from conventional academic discourse. The guys may be writing with the pen/penis, but they pretend to keep it in their pants.
Interchapter One: Using “Body Blogs” to Embody the Writer’s Imagination I have never heard of the mind-body experience in my life but at this moment I still feel like writing is a brain thing and not a mind-body thing. There are only two things that you need to write: your brain, and a hand.
Chapter Two: Personal Presence, Embodied Empiricism and Resonance in Contemplative Writing We teach in a culture that simultaneously obsesses about and disregards bodies and in an academic culture that still views teachers and students as ‘minds’ and ‘intellects’ only …. Our theories of pedagogy cannot afford to neglect the dancing bodies in our classrooms.
Interchapter Two: Habits of Yoga Minds and Writing Bodies Your practice is your laboratory
Chapter Three: Situating Feelings in Contemplative Writing Pedagogy It is difficult to speak of bodily knowledge in words. It is much easier to experience it, to discover what it feels like
Interchapter Three: 26 The Writer’s Breath Your practice is your laboratory.
Conclusion: Namaste I breathe deeply; my students are about to finish their first “yoga for writers” practice with Holly and me, and they look happy and at ease. No one walked out, and I’ve enjoyed this more than I can put into words. I move with my students into a cross-legged position at Holly’s request. We sit quietly for a moment, letting our practice sink in and acknowledging the ways it has subtly changed us in one short hour. Holly explains to my students that yoga practices end with bringing our hands in namaskar mudra, which is a prayer-like position that aligns the hands under the breastbone. She instructs them and reminds me that we bring our hands together and say the phrase, “Namaste” as a way of honoring each other and ourselves. Holly asks us to say this Sanskrit word with conviction and with self-knowledge of what we can achieve when we are aware and acknowledge the union of our body, mind and heart. I recognize that it is this union that guides me, first as a yogi and now as a teacher.
Appendix A: Yoga Asana Handout Iyengar Yoga for Writers*
Appendx B. Yoga Pranayama Handout Writer’s Yoga Breathing*
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