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363000: Creative Flow: Writing & Yoga

  • Fall 2018
  • Section 1
  • 2 Credits
  • 10/24/2018 to 12/04/2018
  • Modified 09/28/2018


Between the breath--that pause between the inhale and exhale--is our still center. This is the creative mind, where words and images dwell. When writers gain access to this core, they contact the original mind and their work becomes charged with heat, energy, emotions, and naked truth. This course helps you focus and gain access to the wide open spaces of your own inner being and arm you with techniques as sharp as swords to allow your own voice to spill onto the page. You examine disciplines like breath control; meditation; intention; ahimsa; visualization; mindless activities; and physical disciplines, like yoga asanas and Thich Nhat Hanh's walking meditation. You experiment with these various spiritual tools, discuss obstacles in a supportive milieu, design your own daily practice, and post work in any genre along the way. Designed for students with some background in yoga or another physical discipline and interest in Indian philosophy. Featuring podcasts and photo clips exploring practical ways to shift into stillness prior to writing.


Textbooks (see below). Also see Bibliography online for materials that might interest you. Some scanned material will be available for assignments, namely Brande's early chapters for those who did not yet purchase the book by Week 1.

Links and weekly podcasts posted.

Required Textbooks

  • **Journey to the Center of the Page (“JCP”)(Monkfish, paperback 2008)by Jeff Davis
  • Becoming A Writer (“BAW”)(Putnam or Penguin reprint 1981 for page references but ANY edition will do)
  • BOTH BOOKS MUST BE PURCHASED BY DAY 1 OF THE COURSE AS INITIAL ASSIGNMENTS INVOLVE THEM. BAW only has first chapters scanned. PURCHASING THE books in time is the student's responsibility. This syllabus posted on UCLA site a month ahead of time.

** Note re “JCP”: Students may use the hardcover first edition but some of the chapters will not correspond; they will have to skip around to find material. All work covered in the hc is contained in the pb but there is also much new material here and poses are incorporated in the chapters rather than separate.

Optional Textbooks

Next is Recommended Reading NOT required. Selected, scanned pages from this book will be available in this course as a reading assignment so no one needs to purchase it):

A Walk Between Heaven and Earth (Crown 1994) by Burghild Nina Holzer



Types of evaluations and related weights
Type Weight Topic Notes
Participation/ Discussion/ Attendance/ Effort 30%
In-class assignments in Forum 35%
Posted writing, workshopping in Forum 1 & 2 35%


100 %
to 97.0%
< 97.0 %
to 94.0%
< 94.0 %
to 90.0%
< 90.0 %
to 87.0%
< 87.0 %
to 84.0%
< 84.0 %
to 80.0%
< 80.0 %
to 77.0%
< 77.0 %
to 74.0%
< 74.0 %
to 70.0%
< 70.0 %
to 0.0%

Course Policies

Course Format: Online

This course is designed to be completed entirely online. All course activities and assignments will be managed through Canvas – you will use your unique username and password to log into the course, interact with your instructor and fellow students, and submit any required assignments.

Since attendance is asynchronous (not in real time), you may login at any time of the day. However, you are expected to participate in the virtual classroom on a weekly basis and complete all readings, discussion requirements and assignments/exams as required (see Course Policies below for more information).

Please keep a copy of all assignments and work submitted. Print the syllabus for your reference. It is your responsibility to be aware of all assignments, due dates and guidelines.

Note the following points about online courses at UCLA Extension: 

  • Students must have basic computer skills, including the use of word processing software, email, and the ability to use internet browsers such as Firefox, Safari, or Chrome.
  • Students should familiarize themselves with Canvas and are responsible for meeting the minimum technical requirements for using Canvas.
  • Course materials will become available two days before the beginning date of the course.
  • Students must follow all posted deadlines and must complete all work in Canvas by the end of the course. Students receiving an “Incomplete” may not complete work within Canvas and must work individually with their instructor to satisfy completion requirements.

Planning Your Study Time

To plan your study time, it is estimated that you will spend 3 hours per week "in class" with the instructor and approximately 7 additional hours per week outside of class studying for exams, reading, and completing assignments. Depending on the extent of your academic preparation and recent college-level coursework in this topic area, the amount of study time needed may vary considerably.

Course Requirements

For beginning and intermediate writers, all genres

"Meeting the Muse" is recommended but not required prior to taking this course,

This course is designed for students with some background in yoga or another physical discipline and interest in Indian philosophy. It is 6 weeks in duration.

Course Procedures

Each WEDNESDAY, I will post lectures and assignments by 12 AM EST. Please read the lectures and complete ALL written, reading, and discussion assignments including workshopping comments no later than 12 Midnight EST by the following TUESDAY. Please note that additional marks (2) are given for workshopping or support of fellow writers during the same week that the assignments are due. For example, if a fellow student posts in W1 Assignment A, you can comment on their work by replying to it in W1 as well. If you wish to receive full credit for workshopping, please submit by the weekly deadline as well. Assignments may, of course, be submitted in advance of this date. As noted above, grades are almost equally distributed among the 3 components with slightly more focus on in-class writing assignments and workshopping.

You are encouraged to post ahead of time so that other students have ample time to read and respond to your work before the deadline. Marks are posted each week, viewing both Assignment A & B and your workshopping responses.

If your assignment is late, you will have to take the chance that your peers may not offer any comments on your work that week. The instructor will still comment on late material. However, if you are taking the course for a grade and miss the deadline, you will receive a reduced mark for that particular assignment. Please be timely. Students who submit assignments on time receive higher grades, have the opportunity to get more feedback from fellow students and engage more deeply in developing lifelong strategies.

If the instructor notices any issues such as poor participation, effort etc. in any of the 3 categories for grading during the duration of the course, she will contact such a student personally to inform them and discuss alternatives.

Posting Assignments


Each week, there will be assignments in Discussion A & B. Please post ALL assignments in each section together at the same time. Do not submit one entry at a time but hand in all assignments together. You can cut and paste from your files to do this. Fellow writers can then read and respond to your entire work of the week in one viewing. No attachments please.

Posting: Meet your deadlines but give yourself time first to fully try each week’s suggested exercises. Don’t be in a hurry to post! Rather, practice the techniques (breath, imaging, meditation, visualization, a standing posture, walking to enter an open state etc.) several different times during the week first before commenting on them or entering into the discussions. Sample. Try. Explore. Play. Engage. Develop. This course is experiential. It is designed to invite your participation and reactions to new techniques that will help you design a spiritually centered writing practice that can fuel your writing. The more you engage in the activities each week, the more tools you will discover that you can benefit from in the little time you have to prepare yourself to write. Remember that the initial time we try something new, we may not feel the full effect. Practice!



Workshopping Guidelines

This is a group that builds and supports an online community of writers experimenting with physical disciplines and internal practices such as meditation. The atmosphere is one of constructive criticism with an emphasis of support and positivity. Profanity and overt sexual material are not accepted. Neither is plagiarism.

Students are expected to join in general discussions posted under Introduction: Biography (Weeks 1-2) and all Discussion modules A & B from W1 onwards and also to participate weekly by responding to writers’ postings. You may respond to another student’s posts personally (“Your story about grief reminded me of …”), with support, (“Many people will be interested in learning how someone survives after a divorce.” or “You highlighted my exact issues with sitting down to meditate regularly.”), identifying what worked in a piece (“Your first person narrative was most effective!”), with advice (“You might want to read ‘The Life of Pi’ to see how authors keep readers constantly on edge.”). It is recommended that you read ALL work posted in the forums each week to view the wide range of responses, issues and styles. However, you may choose to actually respond to at least 3 entries weekly either by tracking the same writers or picking different writers weekly in either Forum 1 or 2. It is highly recommended during this course that you connect with fellow writers for the purpose of networking and forming critique/support groups after this course ends.

Of note, this class is not a critique group. While students will be writing regularly and posting excerpts of their own stories in Discussion B, the focus of this class is on the writing process, the ways we access our own creativity from within, rather than the product. As an instructor, I will comment on your ability to create, expand, and maintain a schedule of physical and mental disciplines as tools to aid your writing and provide feedback.

Institutional Policies

Student Conduct

Students are subject to disciplinary action for several types of misconduct or attempted misconduct, including but not limited to dishonesty, such as cheating, multiple submission, plagiarism, or knowingly furnishing false information to the University; or theft or misuse of the intellectual property of others or violation of others' copyrights. Students are encouraged to familiarize themselves with policy provisions which proscribe these and other forms of misconduct at:

Services for Students with Disabilities

In accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, UCLA Extension provides appropriate accommodations and support services to qualified applicants and students with disabilities. These include, but are not limited to, auxiliary aids/services such as sign language interpreters, assistive listening devices for hearing-impaired individuals, extended time for and proctoring of exams, and registration assistance. Accommodations and types of support services vary and are specifically designed to meet the disability-related needs of each student based on current, verifiable medical documentation. Arrangements for auxiliary aids/services are available only through UCLA Extension’s Service for Students with Disabilities Office at (310) 825-7851 or by email at [email protected]. For complete information see:


Your instructor may post the interim grade Incomplete/I if at the end of the class your overall work is of passing quality but a portion could not be submitted for understandable reasons (e.g. illness). It is your responsibility to petition your instructor for permission to submit work late and to provide an explanation, and it is his or her sole decision whether to accept the explanation. If permitted, the Incomplete/I grade will be posted and a time frame defined for you to submit the missing work, ranging from one to twelve weeks. Incomplete/I grades that remain unchanged after twelve weeks will lapse to F, NP or U. Receiving an I grade entitles you to submit only the missing work your instructor has agreed to accept late, and does not allow other work to be retaken or oblige UCLA Extension to provide continuing access to course materials via Canvas. The Incomplete/I grade is not an option for courses that do not bear credit, such as 700, 800, or 900-level courses. For complete information, see:

All Grades are Final

No change of grade may be made by anyone other than the instructor, and then, only to correct clerical errors. No term grade except Incomplete may be revised by re-examination. The correction of a clerical error may be authorized only by the instructor of record communicating directly with personnel of Student and Alumni Services.

Sexual Harassment

The University of California is committed to creating and maintaining a community where all individuals who participate in University programs and activities can work and learn together in an atmosphere free of harassment, exploitation, or intimidation. Every member of the community should be aware that the University prohibits sexual harassment and sexual violence, and that such behavior violates both law and University policy. The University will respond promptly and effectively to reports of sexual harassment and sexual violence, and will take appropriate action to prevent, to correct, and when necessary, to discipline behavior that violates our policy.

All Extension students and instructors who believe they have been sexually harassed are encouraged to contact the Department of Student and Alumni Services for complaint resolution: UCLA Extension, Suite 113, 10995 Le Conte Ave., Westwood; Voice/TTY: (310) 825-7031. View the University’s full Policy on Sexual Harassment and Sexual Violence at

Additional Items

About Your Online Course Materials

Please note the following about online course components at UCLA Extension:

  • Students must have basic computer skills, including the use of word processing software, email, and the ability to use internet browsers, such as Safari, Firefox, or Chrome.
  • Students are responsible for meeting the technical requirements of Canvas and familiarizing themselves with the Canvas Learning Management System.
  • Students are responsible for keeping a copy of all assignments and work submitted, and to be aware of all assignments, due dates, and course guidelines.
  • Students are encouraged to keep and/or download a local copy of their assignment files, as access to the online environment of a specific course is limited to 30 days after the final course date, as listed in the course catalog.

    If you need assistance downloading student materials from your course, please contact Canvas Support or the UCLA Extension Learning Support Team.

UCLA Extension Canvas and Learning Support

For immediate 24/7 Canvas technical support, including holidays, click on Help (located on the menu to the left) where you can call or chat live with a Canvas Support representative.

UCLA Extension Instructional Design and Learning Support
The UCLA Extension Learning Support staff assists both students and instructors with Canvas-related technical support, as well as general and administrative questions.

Learning Support staff is available Monday through Friday, from 8 AM to 5 PM (Pacific Time), except holidays:




Final day for interaction in this course: 12/4/18 (course shell remains online for a week or more afterward)


This course will guide you through six weeks of instruction. It is designed to build, deepen and extend your writing practice by connecting it to various disciplines. The more you experiment during this course, engage your fellow students and instructor in thought provoking posts, the more you will benefit and carry over into your daily practice afterwards.

We will be following this format:


Example of course curriculum for the first 2 meetings including in-class writing exercises, readings and homework assignments.


Course calendar and related activities
When Topic Notes
10/24 - 10/30



  1. ) JCP Preface to 2nd Ed., Introduction and Chapters 1, 2, 15
  2. BAW Chapters 1 & 5 (scanned)
  3. Listening: PODCAST W1 “Moving into an Open State” (posted with Lectures)


FORUM 1: Postings in Forum 1 should always be between 1 – 1 1/2 pgs., no longer.

  1. ) Discuss your own dilemmas/barriers that halt your ability to move ahead.
  2. ) Describe your current writing practice or schedule including time, frequency of work, methods that work for you, genre you write in. Begin to schedule realistic times over the span of this course when you will show up, write it down and tell us your decison. Try the ritual “TAKE A BREATH” on pg. 23 JCP to get you started.
  3. ) Post your background in spiritual disciplines – meditation, intentions, yoga, breath work, readings, etc. What has proved invaluable for you?
  4. ) What rituals do you practice to maintain inner balance, mindfulness? Do you have specific ones for writing? How do you tackle your own fears around writing?
  5. ) What are your writing goals at this moment? What attracted you to this course?
  6. ) Try the exercise “TAKE A BREATH” on pg. 10 JCP several times. Jot down what thoughts and images come up. Share your reaction with us.
  7. ) Try the activity suggested in W1 PODCAST (example: the walk, mind/body scan, releasing, deep breathing, looking for a noun etc.) or do one of your own activities that help you release. It is essential to try this activity at least three different times during the week. Share your observations. 
  8. MAX of 10 pts. (8 work; 2 networking)


Post a selection from a work in progress or new work generated during this course. This piece is subject to gentle critique by fellow students. 300 maximum word limit. Don’t allow the word limit to block you. If you need to, post a brief line before the excerpt (this brief explanation not included in word count of piece) stating, for example, that,

“This is an excerpt from a middle chapter in a novel about the passage of time and how it affects a family’s grief.”

  MAX of 6 pts (4 work; 2 networking)

10/31 - 11/6


READINGS:   W2 LECTURE plus ....

  1. ) BAW Chapter 6
  2. ) “Running High” on External Links page & “Zen Gardening”
  3. ) Yoga Sequence/Course Documents
  4. ) Listening: PODCAST "Runner's Stretch" W2 (Posted with lectures) 


WRITINGS: (1-1/2 pgs.)

1.) Discuss your experience/background in any physical discipline or activities. How did you first get involved? How long are you practicing? What aspects of this activity drew you in? What makes you stay with it? What subtle mind-body connections are you aware of with this practice?

2.) What new steps can you now incorporate into your practice to allow more mindfulness, to deepen the mind-body connection? For example, combine walking with deep breathing, use a physical activity as a prelude to writing or as a break when writing gets dead-ended.

3.) Explore one pose or some component of your current exercise pattern and tell us what happens while you are in it. For example, as I wrote how I use the Child’s Pose and its multiple layers, what physical activity of your own can you share and analyze? Tell us about inner space. See Zen Gardening & Running High articles.

4.) Experiment with Brande’s writing on schedule. Tell us what happens.

5.) Try activity in PODCAST W2 or any variation you want to. Examples: post running stretches, breath, visualization, cool downs, warm ups, intentions, etc.   Share your experience. Again, try several times this week.

MAX points 10 (8 for work; 2 networking)



Share a selection from current work. It is important to post writing that is topical, reflecting your issues and life at the moment. Gradually, as the course goes on, try to incorporate writing about your own process. For example, a poem about stillness, a description of your own creativity and the places you might access, a dream that fills you with wonder, etc.

MAX points 6 (4 work; 2 networking) 300 word limit

11/7 - 11/13

1.) W 3 Lecture
B) DESCRIPTION of breath techniques in article

3.) W3 PODCAST: “Tadasana”. Try activity suggested.
+ Supplementary Readings - Optional

4. DISCUSSION: WRITING Assignment A: (*8 pts.)

1.) Share your background in breath techniques.

2.) Begin to notice your breath this week. Share your observations about your own breathing patterns in general. Are there times when you are short of breath or breathing deeply? What emotional states are you aware of that you can associate with your breathing?

3.) What is the difference between beta and alpha brain? In your own life, do you experience these states and what are its symptoms?

4.) Try using the breath techniques pg 43 – 44 before or during your writing sessions – what happens?

5.) Post your thoughts about using intentions and gratitude in your writing. Have you tried it before? In your life in general? In your writing? Post several intentions that you feel you can work with at this time.

6.) Share your experience with this week’s PODCAST on the guided Tadasana.

7.) ONGOING WORK: Give us an update on your experience with physical and writing disciplines begun on Week 2. Are you sticking to one type of exercise, using a variety of exercises for differing purposes, or stopped altogether? How is your new writing schedule working out? Are you able to insert these new practices into your day, even if it’s only 10 minutes worth? *Effort, Support of fellow writers, Response, Attendance: +2 pts. (Max=10)

5.) Discussion: Creative Writing Assignment B: (4 pts. due 4/18) A.) Post any piece related to the work of this course, any genre, any related topic. 300 word limit. B) *Effort, Critique, support of fellow writers: + 2 pts. (Max=6 pts)

11/14 - 11/20
  2. READINGS: Natalie Goldberg Interview & book Review
  3. Emily Hanlon: “Down the Rabbit Hole”
  4. Read at least 1 meditation article
  5. W4 PODCAST: “Guided Meditation”
  6. Mindfulness article


W4 WRITING Assignment A: (*8 pts.)

1.) Describe your background/knowledge of meditation.

2.) This week is experiental. Begin to assign yourself at least 5 minutes of stillness 2-3 times this week. What techniques are you having success with in meditation? What is not working for you? Describe your process. Include time, space, conditions.

3.) What are your obstacles to sitting down to meditate this week? What strategies can you use to get around them?

4.) Please share any issues that arise with your meditation practice. What are you noticing about: a) your mind during meditation & b) the after/effect of meditation in your day to day life & c) your attempts to prolong length of session & address obstacles to the practice, before, during or after

5.) ONGOING WORK: Post updates on your experience with your physical routine and writing routine. Have you experimented with just getting up from your desk and doing a stretch, asana etc. or incorporated a breath technique at your desk? Or deliberately used breath to engage more deeply in a physical exercise?

6.) Share your reactions to this week’s PODCAST.

*Effort, Support of fellow writers, Response, Attendance: 2 pts. TOTAL= 10 pts.


W4 Creative Writing Assignment B (*4 pts)

A. Post any piece related to the work of this course, in any genre. Examples: a description of your mind during meditation, a list poem naming your hindrances, how you freewrite. Be out there! 350 maximum word limit.

B. Effort. Critique. Support of fellow writers: 2 extra pts. TOTAL: 6pts

11/21 - 11/27

W5 WRITING Assignment A: 1-1/2 pgs. (*8 pts.)

1.) What (mindless) activities can you think of using as part of your daily life? Which are most suitable for you to use intentionally? Have you ever worked this way before?

2.) Choose any mindless activity suggested in this week’s lecture and use one of your own this week. Practice the mindfulness suggestions with this activity. Are you able to detach from the body and mind to some degree? What resistances do you have? Feed your subconscious with assignment “seeds”. Jot down your observations of the experience. You might want to keep a log of your ideas that surface at this time.

3.) Discuss the process of how you access ideas from what your mind is first attracted to, and how you pull in new ideas for a draft or revision. What’s the best way for you to access them? Can mindless activities be a valid tool for you?

4.) What is your reaction to Holzer’s discussion of “images”. Share your experience with recurring images. Post any noticings that are taking place currently. Have you tried using forward bends, Child’s Pose to develop these freeflow images and if so, what is taking place?

5.) Post your reaction to W5 Podcast. Also, from “Walk Between” & PODCAST: Holzer describes the process of freeflow pg. 43-44, referred to in PODCAST. This is what Julia Cameron refers to as “morning pages” and Virginia Woolf calls “freewrite”. Have you ever done this? What was it like? Try it out a few mornings this week, or at another schedule time. What use can you see in it?

6.) ONGOING WORK: Choose one posture from JCP readings this week to work on and combine breath with a yoga pose. Describe the effect on your mind, imagination and possibilities for your writing.

*Effort, Support of fellow writers, Response, Attendance: 2 pts. TOTAL = 10 pts.


W5 Creative Writing Assignment B (*4 pts.)

A. Write about any spiritual activity and its effect on you, any genre.

B. *Effort. Critique. Support of fellow writers 2pts/ TOTAL+ 6 pts.

11/28 - 12/4


 (DUE DATE IS ****12/1/18 @ 12 Noon). Closes 12/4 to discussion

1. W6Lecture

A) JCP CHPT 24 & CHAPTER 6, 8 & 9
B) BAW Chapters 15 & 17 3.)

W 6 PODCAST: “Moonbreath”
+ Supplementary Readings - Optional

4.) Discussion: WRITING Assignment A: (*8 pts.)

  1. Post a final presentation of your spiritual writing practice incorporating techniques discussed in this course or presented: meditation, a physical discipline, mindfulness,
    mindlessness, breathing, intentions, etc. Include specifics like time, schedule, exact postures.      
    What to include -- What works? What doesn’t? What are the obstacles? What’s changed in the way you write and exercise since you began this course?
  2. What was your experience with Moon Breath in the PODCAST (also JCP pg. 99)? Was it different from other breath techniques discussed and tried here?
  3. What are your goals for when this course ends? Do you have a mentor or writing group or course to help you continue? Please share any tips you have for ensuring that you incorporate new techniques learned here into your daily practice. How do you remind yourself to do them? Are there certain activities you reserve for deskwork?
  4. Take any of Jeff Davis’ tips or philosophy from this week’s assigned chapters and try one. What was effective? Example: allowing ourself to get lost, Unboxing the Third Eye etc.

250 words maximum. *Effort, Support of fellow writers, Response, Attendance: +2 pts. Max+10)

DISCUSSION: Creative Writing Assignment B (4 pts.

) A. Post a final piece. Any genre. Any subject. Limit 350 words.

B. *Effort, Critique, support of fellow writers: 2 pts.

C.NOTE:+4 extra points for overall participation and engagement in course given
when assigning final grade. (Max=8 pts