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Sometimes yoga is a poem

I went to my home studio on Monday, the place that officially trained me to share yoga. I was almost nervous on the way; I am certified to teach power vinyasa, and yet it’d been months since I’d had a vigorous practice. I felt sure that after class I’d be glad I’d taken, but during the commute, I wasn’t excited so much as resigned.

The sense of obligation wasn’t quite the same as a “should”–it was more like I couldn’t escape the idea that practice would benefit me. Back when I used to have self-discipline, I often went to yoga when I didn’t completely feel like it. But lately, not so much.

Last week when I hit the mat I realized it’d been a fortnight since my previous class and that upset me. I know better, understand the importance of a regular practice. And even though it’s vital to stretch in the shower and great to do a little morning qi gong, an hour or so of guided yoga is a more thorough way of recalibrating energy, and an opportunity for heightening emotional awareness.

So when my friend suggested I join her for practice on Monday it made sense to agree, and even after she had to work late and cancel, I decided to go ahead and drag myself to the studio.

It was weird coming home to my training studio, at first. I was happy to recognize the teacher–and pleased she recognized me, given my prolonged absence–and out of instinct almost asked if I could do something to help set up. But before I said anything someone else offered assistance and I realized there’s a fresh batch of teacher trainees eager to stack sweaty mats and organize rows. Of course I’d help if I was needed, but I wasn’t, and that was okay too.

I’ve been learning to love the ugly in me, the parts I’m not as proud of, and Lindsey’s class helped me make progress. She spoke with earnest eloquence about the importance of taking time to be with our bodies, to take full ownership of our experiences.

“If you’re having a great class, that’s all you,” she said as we hovered and shook in an extended chair pose. “If you’re having a rough class, that’s all you,” she continued, and I grinned, I agreed so much.

I had a vigorous practice; I haven’t sweated like that since summer. But I gently embraced the challenge, went slow and stayed true to my breath, and by savasana I felt peaceful release, calm enough to soak up an excerpt of a poem by Rumi that resonated deeply, and that I’d like to share here. Because sometimes yoga is a poem:

How does
a part of the world
leave the world?

How does wetness
leave water?

Don’t try to put out fire
by throwing on more fire!

Don’t wash a wound
with blood.

No matter how fast you run,
your shadow keeps up.

Sometimes it’s in front!

Only full overhead sun
diminishes your shadow.

But that shadow
has been serving you.

What hurts you,
blesses you.

is your candle.

Your boundaries
are your quest.

I could explain this,
but it will break
the glass cover
on your heart,
and there’s no fixing that.

One Response to Sometimes yoga is a poem

  1. youngyogamasters November 14, 2011 at 3:47 pm #

    Beautiful poem and I agree with your title. I can relate to your experience of going out for a class. If I stay home and do yoga I often do an hour of warm-ups. In a class with another teacher is where I get the workout!

    Thanks for visiting the Young Yoga Masters blog : )

Love > fear