The Synergistic Nature of Yoga & Pottery: Creative Transformation

The Synergistic Nature of Yoga & Pottery: Creative Transformation – Lara Warren

As a long-time yoga practitioner and a burgeoning potter, I have been struck by how complementary the nature of the two practices are.

Both incorporate a blend of science, art, and philosophy. There are methodologies and techniques to learn. There are similar concepts in centering and alignment of form and fine-tuning and adjusting, observing and correcting in real-time as we move toward the final “shape.” There are emotional, mental, physical, and meditative aspects to cultivate in both practices. While there is the possibility of perfecting the techniques, ultimately, it is not about perfection or collecting postures and pots but about integration, beauty, self-knowledge, and divine expression.

In addition to the tools, methodology, and philosophy of yoga and pottery, there are similarities in approaching both practices. For instance, the way I start my yoga practice and the way I start a pottery project are pretty similar. I set an intention. It is usually about clearly defining what I want to craft. Then, I decide how to get to that “peak pose” in yoga or arrive at my chosen design in pottery. In addition to “how,” there is the “why” I have selected that destination and the route I will take. Then, there is the “who” it is for or who (body, mind, breath) is in the driver’s seat.

The WHAT of the practice

In yoga, we have “families of poses.” In pottery, we have various vessels on a wheel or shapes and sculptures in hand building. So I might decide to get to Kapotasana (a deep backbend) in yoga, while in pottery, I might decide to throw high and narrow. Knowing where I want to go will influence how I proceed in both cases. I get lost if I don’t have a clear idea of where I am going. This, too, can be fun for a while, but ultimately, unskilled and ineffective. Intention doesn’t have to be just about setting a shape; it can be creating a mood, working with a specific technique, and deciding how you want to make something today or why you want to create it.

The HOW of the practice

After deciding on my practice’s direction, I choose how I want to get there. In yoga, I might do a faster-paced and unsupported practice or a slower, methodical, and supported one. This involves sequencing, timing, and choosing a methodology for my sought-after destination (pose). In pottery, there is also sequencing, timing, and choice of methods. To share just one example, the timing of drying a piece before trimming is crucial—we are looking for “leather hard” where it is neither too soft and wet nor too hard and dry. It reminds me of striking the right balance of doing and non-doing, action and repose when we move from doing to being in an asana.

The WHY of the practice

It could be that I am trying to improve a skill set (throw taller in pottery, get better at connecting my femur bone into its hip socket in a head balance variation) or to evoke a certain feeling/mood (I want to ease and comfort; focus and discipline, beauty and whimsy) or a practical reason (I need a set of plates, I need to heal an injured knee).

The WHO of practice

By “who,” I do not mean that I am making something for someone else, although that would influence the type of pottery I am building. But in everything we commit to, we can be involved entirely, at peace, where “the seer, the seeing, and the seen become one.” This is what yogis call “associated conditions.” When the body, breath, and mind are in sync, we are genuinely at peace and our most authentic and creative selves. In yoga, it is a given that we are crafting for ourselves (body, breath, mind, and its associated conditions). When we have honed any craft or “cracked the code,” it is possible to get “into a zone” where we are no longer thinking of what we are doing but are absorbed in the process. In both yoga and pottery, we are shifting, to borrow from Prashant Iyengar’s lexicon, from the mind as a benefactor and the project as a beneficiary to the project (body/pot) as a benefactor and “ours” (our entire wondrous human embodiment) as beneficiary.

By uniting mindfulness with purposeful action, we pave the way to creativity and positive transformation. I hope you will take this opportunity to add a unique dimension to your retreat experience and dive into the world of ceramics with me.



Lara is thrilled to be teaching a second time at Feathered Pipe Ranch outside of Helena, Montana, which is also the home to the Archie Bray Foundation, the oldest artist residency for potters. While the week’s primary focus is yoga, the Archie Bray Foundation, the Feathered Pipe Foundation, and Lara are collaborating to bring you a unique and inspiring creative experience. During the retreat week, there will be three occasions to attend an experiential clay class at the Bray. Join is for The Alchemy of Yoga & Creative Self-Expression, July 6 – 13!



About Lara Warren:

The Alchemy of Yoga & Self-Expression - Lara Warren

Lara first explored B.K.S. Iyengar’s “Light on Yoga” when she was twelve. Enthralled with the pictures of “Guruji” performing a myriad of postures, a year later, she went to her first Iyengar Yoga class in London.

Lara received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors in Environmental Sciences from the University of East Anglia, Norwich, England, in 1992. In University, she practiced with a Shingon Buddhist group that combined Chinese Yoga with seated meditation and martial arts. Lara knew she had found her calling from the first class she had ever taught. Lara moved to New York City soon after she graduated from University.

In New York, she studied Iyengar Yoga with Robin Janis and Mary Dunn, began building the HipJoint Yoga Studio, where she was director from 1994-2014, and worked as a project manager and environmental organizer with the Council on the Environment of New York City. In 2001, she decided to go full-time into teaching yoga. Lara felt that as an environmentalist, she was running from crisis to crisis, busy trying to transform her surroundings or influence policy with much effort but without much success–while as a yoga practitioner and teacher, the effects she experiences and witnesses are much more immediate and tangible. She believes that as dedicated yoga practitioners, we are empowered on a very visceral level to make positive and lasting changes in all aspects of our lives.

In addition to daily yoga practice and raising her beautiful child, Lara is happiest when playing guitar, traveling the world, or simply staying closer to home and enjoying all NYC has to offer. Lara looks for joy and ease; challenge and transformation; evolution and peace in her life and practice, and some of the elements with which she hopes to imbue her students.

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