For nearly a year, I’ve been practicing yoga with Cara George at Yoga District on H. Street, Northeast in Washington, D.C. Yoga has come into my life at a crazy busy time where I find myself juggling many responsibilities and meeting many deadlines in a short period of time. The past six months have been wonderful and stressful at the same time.
Something that has been on my mind is the idea of “letting go,” and the space and freedom this can bring into the creative process and helping me reach my goals. I find this in yoga. Yoga is meditative and has brought balance and clarity to my life and artistic process. It helps me reach a place, which feels authentic, clear and helps me visualize the life I want to lead.
In this interview, I talk to Cara George, who brings the philosophy of yoga into her graphic design business and creative life. Cara discusses her background in Jivamukti Yoga, and the relationship between yoga and her graphic design business. She also shares how yoga can help remove artistic blocks and assists the creative process. For more on Cara George, please visit http://www.carageorgedesign.com.
Tell me about your background and what led you to yoga.
Yoga has been a part of my life for a long, long time. Almost 20 years now, believe it or not. I was very much intended to practice yoga in this lifetime and infuse these teachings into all elements of my life … and hopefully share them with as many folks as possible. I was introduced to yoga shortly before I moved to NYC for the first time. I practiced one-on-one with a teacher for a few months and then when I moved to NYC, I found Jivamukti Yoga, which was life changing, transformative and really, really fun!
Jivamukti is a practice full of life and love — they believe in the power of music, chanting and do not shy away from sharing the spiritual teachings in class. It’s also a practice that recognizes the beauty of all things aesthetic. They emphasize the look and feel of their practice with beautiful space, print materials, logo, identity, etc.
As a designer, I really appreciate that because I wholeheartedly believe that yoga and design have a lot in common. There is spirit and divine in creativity, in art, in design. When we see something that is beautiful — a piece of art, clothing, graphic design, photograph — we respond from our heart, not from our head. That is yoga! So, I try to live and work in the place where those two worlds meet — the aesthetic and the spirit.
What is the relationship between yoga and your design?
I’ve recently started my own graphic design business and yoga has been a big, big part of the philosophy behind that business, but is also a big part of how I design and lead people through the design process. Typically, whether or not I am creating a brand for someone or designing custom invitations or stationery, the process is similar and sort of mirrors a yoga class.
Step One: Breathe In and Begin
This is the centering part of the process. Clients and I talk about the kind of design they love, their style vibes and the kinds of messages they want to hear and want to send.
Step Two: Guided Inspiration
This is an important part of the process because it is very collaborative. In yoga classes, I guide students through a physical and spiritual practice, but ask them to listen to the teacher within so they know how far to push themselves, how to gain peace and calm in moments of challenge — and that is exactly what I do with design clients, too. After we talk about their design loves, I create some initial designs for them to review and very much want them to respond with their intuition — to really listen to the teacher within and respond honestly.
Step Three: Divine Design
I believe in the power of being yourself, which is why my design process is so collaborative. I want clients to see themselves in the design. By the end of the process, we’ve created something together that is a reflection of individuality and creativity — the things that truly live within us all! This process is so much fun!
How can Yoga help artist overcome artistic blocks?
It is my belief that blocks of any kind are energetic. We all have an energetic body that helps us to feel connected to the world, to others, to our work. When our energy is blocked we can feel disconnected from one or all of these things. There are lots of things that we can do to clear our energy systems. The physical yoga practice can help, but so does prāṇāyāma (breath work) and meditation.
Often times I find that it helps to meditate on how it will feel to not be blocked anymore. Thoughts become things, so if we flip the block on its head and realize that we are not our artistic block and that we have the power to imagine a better way, that imagination will turn into reality.
It’s quantum physics at its most basic — all things are energy, even our thoughts. We have the power to turn anything in our life around — just by the power of our thoughts and our imagination. Don’t surrender to the block and instead imagine clear creativity flowing through you … and then really feel it flowing through you; believe it.
Love the idea of yoga allowing artist to “let go” and not operate out of fear based on others’ judgments.
This is one of the hardest parts of being an artist of any kind. I encounter this as a yoga teacher and as a designer. All we can really do is be ourselves. When we let ourselves really shine and surrender to our inner truth, others will see it, too. That doesn’t mean they’ll always like it, but if we can walk away from any performance, design, meeting with a client, art show, etc., knowing that we were fully ourselves, I think that can bring some peace and help us to let go of the fear. Yoga and meditation can help us feel more connected to our truest self, and to express that self with a little bit more light and enthusiasm and a little less fear and worry.
We have to remember that being ourselves is the only thing we can really control. So, be you and turn it up.