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Yoga for Papermakers

Nicole Donnelly, foreground, leading Yoga for Papermakers at the Paper Points North annual Friends of Dard Hunter conference at the Banff Center, 2015. (May Babcock)

Saturday, October 27. Demonstration by  Nicole Donnelly

As someone who suffers from insomnia and monkey mind at night, meditation and yoga have always been some of the recommendations that I have received from people. Meditation is a practice that I try to do daily, but somehow it just helps to calm the anxiety that comes with the fact that I didn’t get to sleep. This presentation grabbed my attention because more than being yoga, it was yoga for papermakers. The demonstration, scheduled right after lunch, attracted only four people. Nonetheless, the instructor was highly motivated. 

Nicole, who practices Ashtanga and Hatha yoga on a daily basis, focused on strengthening the arms, relaxing the shoulders and the back since these are the parts of our body that we use the most in papermaking. She also shared breathing exercises to help with the flow of our energy pathways. 

Overall the practice was beautiful. It was nice to have a moment to be in the present. When I was doing yoga, my mind didn’t jump to another place. I was fully present, fully connected with my breath and my surroundings. I wish more papermakers and printmakers would have come to the demonstration. At the end, motivated by the class I got to talk with the artist. She told me that yoga and papermaking started for her at the same time. She got a free month yoga class as a Christmas present and since then she has been doing yoga. She finds these two practices being very meditative, she said that you cannot make paper if your mind is somewhere else. As someone who meditates and follows Buddhist teachings,  I totally agree.

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