Updated: Apr 8
Here is the article I saw in my training thru a yoga online course~
Yoga teacher, Business of Yoga co-founder, and musician Justin Michael Williams shares the 3 books that influenced his creative rituals, how a hardware store inspired his music, and how he stems self-doubt so it doesn’t get in the way of great ideas.
What's your advice for a fellow yoga teacher who wants to bring more creativity into her life and teachings?
Don’t compartmentalise parts of your life. Stay open, allow your interests to lead the way, and combine it with the things you already do to come up with something new. Creative things happen when you mix and match different interests and come up with something new. I’ve seen so many examples of this: Yoga and surfing, yoga and horseback riding, yoga and chocolate...
Can you share a creative, not-the-norm yoga sequence that inspires you these days?
My meditation practice is driving my creativity lately. I start my morning sitting with my palms up and open on my knees to receive, and I think about something artistic and creative I can do to fuel the rest of the day. It changes every single time. Sometimes it’s, I’m going to sleep for 20 more minutes or I’m going to read this book that I love or even I’m going to put on this Justin Timberlake album that I haven’t listened to in 10 years.
How do you spark your best ideas? Do you have a routine or tactic to stoke the creative process?
My best ideas always start with a high-quality question in the morning, sometimes during my meditation. I let that question sit in the background all day, and when inspiration hits, I disconnect the phone and everything else, and sit with the question for an hour. (I’ll set a timer.) Follow the impulse and ride the wave of whatever comes to you, even if it’s not the answer you’re expecting. Even if no ideas are coming, I’ve given myself to the creative process for an hour. But something usually comes.
Where is the most unexpected place you’ve ever found inspiration?
I’m performing a music set at an upcoming festival, and I needed a new cover song for a daytime show, which I’d never done before. So that was my question today. Later on I was standing in the hardware store picking out paint for a wall in my apartment in New York. Justin Timberlake’s Cry Me a River came on, and I was like, That’s it! That’s the song! If I hadn’t had the intention of that question, I wouldn’t have noticed that the song was playing, let alone think of using it for my set.
What do you do off the mat to keep your classes fresh?
The best teachers are the best students. You have to take other teachers’ classes, especially ones that have a style very different from yours. But you can’t just copy and paste what other teachers teach. You embody it and share it through your own unique filter. I take those practices home and ask myself: How can I make this my own? What part of this feels good to me? What part of this can I send out to my students in my own way?
What’s your go-to strategy when you feel like you can’t bust through creative blocks, whether it’s for a sequence or for a personal project?
Everyone gets blocks, but living a creative lifestyle isn’t about what you’re producing; it’s that you’re sitting down to produce. It doesn’t matter if you actually come up with something, but if you spend an hour a day working on a creative project, then you’re living a creative life. Even if you’re blocked, you’re not going to get unblocked by not doing it.
Every day I set a timer and work on something creative, whether it’s yoga or music, and sometimes I’m sitting there totally blank. There’s a quote I really love, and it’s “Inspiration will hit you, but it has to find you working.”
Is there a time of day you feel the most and least creative?
I feel most creative first thing in the morning before I do anything else and before I have any outside influence from anyone in the world who needs something from me. If I look at my phone or emails before my creative session, it ruins it—immediately. Otherwise it’s super late at night. I’m a total night owl, and I thrive after 11 p.m. with creative stuff.
When in your life do you feel like you are most creatively fulfilled?
Expressing my art through music during the past year has been incredible. That’s been my main creative squeeze. I’m coming out with an album in September and starting to perform in all these shows, and I feel totally fulfilled because it’s a mix of everything i’ve been doing. It is a yoga practice to me because it’s a practice of being fully present and a practice of not judging myself.
Creatively, who has influenced you the most in your journey as a teacher?
I wish I could say one person, but honestly three books have been major for me in terms of opening up to creativity.
The War of Art by Steven Pressfield is about how everything that full-fills us creatively will make us experience fear and resistance because it’s taking us to the next level of ourselves, creatively, spiritually, and emotionally. So it talks about pushing through that and making the time in your day to do it.
Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert shifted my perspective on things. It’s about inspiration and creativity while living a totally normal life.
The Big Leap by Gay Hendricks is about breaking through your own upper limits. A lot of times people think you can’t live a creative life and have a lot of money, have a good relationship, or have good health—something has to give. So this book talks about taking that leap and having happiness in all domains while living a creative life.
How would you define living a creative life?
You are living a creative life if you are spending time being creative. If you’re spending time thinking about being creative, wishing you were creative, or putting it on your to do list, you aren’t being creative—you are procrastinating and experiencing resistance. You don’t have to be a full time artist, yoga teacher or musician to live a creative life. You can spend five hours a week doing something creative, like writing in your journal or practicing creative asana, even if it doesn’t produce anything for anyone to see.
A creative life requires a degree of fearlessness.
How do you combat self-doubt and foster confidence to share your ideas with the world?
Self-doubt and self-criticism are one of the hardest things for me to push through. Am I good enough to do this? Should I be doing this? Somebody’s better, why am I wasting my time? All of those things come up. You just have to keep doing it!
There is no other solution. My yoga practice keeps me connected to myself, my desires, and my dharma. It makes it harder to put the things that I really want creatively on the sidelines because I’m so clear about what I want through my practice.
One thing I’ve learned is that you have to look at creativity and fear as twins. You can’t do anything creative without fear coming along for the ride. So I say OK, fear, creativity and I are going on this road trip. You can say what you want, but you can’t make any of the decisions: you’re sitting in the backseat, you aren’t giving any directions, and you can’t even touch the radio.
Creativity and I are making the calls. So when fear is coming up, I ask myself what creativity would do. Is this response coming from creativity or coming from fear? That’s how I make my decisions and move through fear in my life.