As much as a yoga class is about breath, movement and listening within, it can also be framed by another thing: words.
Teachers might share readings, quotes, poetry, or personal experiences at the start of class in the form of a dharma talk.
Others might share a sutra at the end, when everyone is laying still in savasana, as if the words might float and fall over the room where yogis lay, palms and hearts open to receiving.
Both poetry and yoga ask us to pay close attention. Both can be a practice of mindfulness, presence, awareness and gratitude.
The following three poems are meant as offerings to our yoga practice, our bodies, and our lives. Read, enjoy, and perhaps find a way to incorporate these and other poems into your yoga practice.
Three Yoga Poems to Honor Your Yoga Practice:
Love After Love
The time will come
when, with elation
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror
and each will smile at the other’s welcome,
and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you
all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,
the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.
You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
For a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about your despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting —
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.
The Laughing Heart
your life is your life
don’t let it be clubbed into dank submission.
be on the watch.
there are ways out.
there is light somewhere.
it may not be much light but
it beats the darkness.
be on the watch.
the gods will offer you chances.
you can’t beat death but
you can beat death in life, sometimes.
and the more often you learn to do it,
the more light there will be.
your life is your life.
know it while you have it.
you are marvelous
the gods wait to delight
Step Off the Mat and Into Your Life With These Poems
Since the yoga practice extends far off the mat and into the world, it’s my hope that these poems will also serve you in your day-to-day life, tethering you to your center, encouraging you to ask questions, and stay awake.
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