We all know the power of the yoga asana practice on its own. At its essence, there’s really no need to add anything more to the practice.
And, yet, when you do… when you add just the perfect ingredients… our already perfect yoga practice can transform into a truly magical experience.
A poem, of course, can easily be one of those perfect ingredients…
Sometimes words are a powerful means of carrying us into the language of the body. The right words become the river guide that ferries us from this world of intellectualizing and analytical thinking across to the shadowy world of feeling.
A poem is a bridge between the language of the mind and the language of the soul.
Below are 5 poems that yoga teacher Liz Huntly uses to inspire her classes as well as her own personal practice. For each poem, Huntly has also shared her own personal interpretation of how the poem relates to yoga. Enjoy and Namaste!
Use these words in whatever way moves you.
“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.”
You are perfect in your wholeness. Your wholeness includes your scars, your weaknesses, your mood swings, the days of your life you’d rather pull the covers up over your head and stay in bed.
Yoga is a practice of peeling away labels of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ and embracing whatever form of beauty you bring to your mat each day.
“We have come to be danced
not the pretty dance
not the pretty pretty, pick me, pick me dance
but the claw our way back into the belly
of the sacred, sensual animal dance
the unhinged, unplugged, cat is out of its box dance
the holding the precious moment in the palms
of our hands and feet dance”
As long as we are alive, we are in motion. The transition between asanas, the care with which we move in and out of a pose, are as important as the poses themselves. Even within the held space of an asana, we find the dance of the breath, the constant subtleties of tuning that align the body more harmoniously.
“your life is your life
don’t let it be clubbed into dank submission.
be on the watch.”
Through practice, we move from unknowing into knowing, from darkness to illumination. When we follow the breath into the body, when we focus our gaze inwards, we invite light into the shadows. With practice, this process often becomes a journey that surprises us, that delights us.
“Before you know what kindness really is
you must lose things,
feel the future dissolve in a moment
like salt in a weakened broth.
What you held in your hand,
what you counted and carefully saved,
all this must go so you know
how desolate the landscape can be
between the regions of kindness.”
Yoga is a practice of non-violence, of love. We start by learning kindness towards ourselves. We learn to take all our sorrows and our hurt and wrap them in the blanket of our own self-love. And then we learn to be compassionate, we take that blanket of love and drape it across the world.
“You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.”
Endeavor, in your practice (and your life), to do what you intuit is best, or to follow the sound advice of others. And know, still, that you will make mistakes and that good fortune will not always appear to be on your side.
An injury, a pose that is eternally frustrating, an experience with a teacher that irritates you, are lessons that become threads in the strong weave of your practice. In yoga (in life), we do our best to stay the course, but we also trust the wind to carry us home.