A few weeks ago I received a book in the mail, and as I started to scan through the pages, I felt like I had won the lottery! Like a beautiful asana, each page contained words perfectly aligned to lift my soul. I had been given the gift of a book of yoga poems that I know will provide inspiration for my life and my yoga classes for many years to come.

The Poetry of Yoga is a new anthology of contemporary poetry that was edited and pulled together lovingly by community organizer, peace educator, author, spoken word poet, yoga instructor, and artist HawaH, who wanted to create a body of current yoga verse written by modern, living poetic voices that would reflect on how yoga continues to shift the landscape of human consciousness and civilization.

Back in October 2010, HawaH launched a call for submissions for this book (which, through the power of social media, became a worldwide poetic movement) and received more than 1,500 submissions. He called upon master teachers and writers from around the globe to offer submissions as well.

So, how cool of a job would that be to read all of those submissions and then get to pick which ones made it to the anthology? HawaH joyfully did this task without seeing the names of the authors so that he would have an unbiased view. He was able to narrow down the submissions to 450 pages, too much for one book, so the decision was made to offer two anthologies. The first was published on November 11, 2011 (11/11/11).

“Poetry and Yoga…as inseparable as ocean and sand. Together they create a mirror glass reflecting the enlightenment inside of us. Yoga turns us inward as we discover the graceful flow of our bodies interacting with breath and spirit; poetry channels expression outwards, pouring in the shape of words onto paper. Letters bend as a yoga asana, creating paragraphs with our lives. Feelings unravel in the form of sentences buried deep inside.” – Hawah, from the Prologue of The Poetry of Yoga

As you go through the poems, you will find diverse voices from all around the globe, and if I have not piqued your interest yet, you can also check out the poetic stylings of yogis like Shiva Rea, Erich Schiffmnn, Sharon Gannon, Judith Hanson Lasater, Swami Ramananda, and Krishna Das.

One of the missions of this work is to help raise awareness and money for a non-profit organization called One Common Unity, which supports a movement for peace education and the building of a non-violent culture through music and art. In other words, they bring arts-based health and wellness, conflict resolution, and nonviolence education for inner-city youth. Fifty percent of the proceeds of each book sold is donated to One Common Unity.

If you are looking for uplifting poems to share with your yoga classes or are simply seeking a spiritual lift, you will find it in the pages of The Poetry of Yoga. Visit thepoetryofyoga.com to watch videos of the authors reading their poetry, get details on how to submit your work for the second anthology (which will be published on 12/12/12), and to purchase your very own copy.

I’d like to share with you one of the poems from the book. I got a huge smile on my face when I found it because it is the poem that I read when I taught my very first yoga class. I was leaving behind my stressful days working in corporate America and choosing instead to teach yoga. The words in Aaron’s poem speak to how I lived my life for so many years, and they celebrate the decision I made to live a more peaceful, fulfilling, and healthy life.

Too Busy to Relax by Aaron Hoopes

From The Poetry of Yoga Volume I, page 95-96

Too busy to relax they say
Complaints, excuses everyday
They sound so weak, so stressed, so tired
A mundane world in which they’re mired
No time to sit and just be quiet
Their mind’s a rush of thoughts, a riot
No chance they have to hear the sound
Of nature’s wonder all around
Of birds and trees and clouds and air
Too much work, it’s just not fair
This really seems quite sad to me
So much to do, no time to be

Breathe I say and move a bit
Then after that we can just sit
And watch the world at its own pace
There is no rush, it’s not a race
And if it were, what is the goal?
Where are you going mind, body, soul?

Too busy to relax I hear
These words seem like they’re based in fear
Tired, weak and too much stress
How did our lives turn such a mess?
We don’t need to look above
To find a place that’s based in love
Turn instead and look within
Find your self, it is no sin
Forgive, let go, open your heart
It is the only place to start
Think on that and you might find
Throughout your life you have been blind

Breathe I say and move some more
Run, walk, jump, stretch on the floor
Move your body, get up and go
Feel the energy, let it flow
Don’t get caught in negative
Habits that won’t let you live

Too busy to relax? Not true!
This hoax must end, it starts with you
If all you do is just the same
You never will escape this game
Do something new, do something Zen
Begin right now, not ‘if’ or ‘when’
Do one thing different, or two, or five
Change how you live, become alive
Do or do not, there is no try
Step off the cliff and start to fly
Begin with this, you won’t go wrong
Remember to breathe, deep and long.

I think I need to read this poem each and every day as a reminder to slow down and RELAX! Thank you, Aaron, for the insight and wisdom this poem provided.

Win Your Very Own Copy of The Poetry of Yoga!

To celebrate and share this lovely gift I received, The Daily Downward Dog is giving away two copies of The Poetry of Yoga. Leave a comment below to let me know how the poetry of yoga speaks to you. I will randomly select one winner on Monday, March 5 and another on Monday, March 12, 2012 at noon EST. In between now and then, I may just share a few more of my favorite poems from this awesome anthology.

Please spread the word about this book. And, you can follow the creation of the second anthology on the website and also through the Poetry of Yoga Facebook page.

Thank you, HawaH, for making these two copies of the book available to my readers and for your hard work and dedication to create such a marvelous and awe-inspiring collection of poetry about yoga. I may just have to get busy and create some poems to submit for the second anthology!

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