The Poetry of Yoga

Post image for The Poetry of Yoga

February 27, 2012

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!

Leave a Comment

{ 24 comments… read them below or add one }

Laurie N February 27, 2012 at 12:01 PM

This is perfect – I have been searching for something new to read in my classes! Thanks.

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Alicia from Poise in Parma February 27, 2012 at 12:07 PM

One of our instructors at Nishkama has shared stories from this book before and I agree that it’s a great compliment to a practice. I’d love to win a copy!

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Denise February 27, 2012 at 12:46 PM

Thank you for sharing – “Too Busy To relax.” Great choice. I teach at 4 different senior centers and during Savanasa I always share a reading. It is amazing how someone will usually tell me after class how the reading was meant for them that day. I have quite a collection myself that others have given me. I look forward to Poetry of Yoga and submitting a favorite for the second anthology. This website has been a great FIND!

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Laurie taillie February 27, 2012 at 12:47 PM

Yoga has changed my life… It is the one constant in an ever changing world. In learning about yoga, practicing asanas and pranayama, I have learned more about myself than I could imagine. I have become calmer, more focused, but also more flexible and confident. Because I used to teach English, poetry seems to me a natural companion to yoga…beautiful, meaningful words to accompany beautiful and expressive poses…yoga is the poetry of our souls.

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Rachel (Alive in the Fire) February 27, 2012 at 12:51 PM

As a writer and a yogi, I always love finding projects that combine poetry and yoga. Would love a copy of this!

And if you’re interested in more yoga poems, check out my fun little yoga haikus on Alive in the Fire :)

http://aliveinthefire.blogspot.com/2011/11/yoga-haiku-never-too-late.html
http://aliveinthefire.blogspot.com/2011/11/you-are-all-you-need.html
http://aliveinthefire.blogspot.com/2011/11/yoga-haiku.html

Namaste,
Rachel

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Deanna Nagle February 27, 2012 at 2:53 PM

I am very excited about this book. I love to share poetry with my yoga classes and have enjoyed Danna Faulds books in the past. I can’t wait to read poetry from some of the well-known yogis included in the book. I also love that the proceeds benefit One Common Unity – a theme I often express with my classes.

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Marge February 27, 2012 at 3:05 PM

We are taking a meditation class in our community and would love to share this book of poetry with them.

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Suzanne February 27, 2012 at 5:18 PM

The poetry of yoga has such a calming effect and cleanses my mind from all the distractions I allow to clutter it.

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Megan Eichhorn February 27, 2012 at 6:41 PM

This book would be great for me to read while at work, to bring yoga into my “work life”. I used to be a studio owner and now back in the corporate work setting. I miss my yoga world!

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Kelly February 28, 2012 at 8:36 AM

I totally agree with you. This poem should be read every day to remind us to slow down. If the other poems in this book are anything like this one, then this book will be wonderful to read ….. sitting in the shade of a big tree, on a nice sunny day, the sky is blue, the ice cubes are tinkling in my glass and the birds are singing. Yes, I am smiling !

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Tara L February 28, 2012 at 10:06 AM

Well said! Even if we’re not buzzing from here to there, we can still slow down and be with our breath. I tell my students that peacefulness is within, we just have to become quiet and listen. Thanks for sharing!

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Allison Kapitanoff February 28, 2012 at 12:40 PM

Reading the words of others that so eloquently puts feelings I can’t express on my own out there gives me inspiration that I am not alone in my journey.

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Angela Towers February 28, 2012 at 12:50 PM

This looks amazing. Two of my loves wedded – poetry and yoga. I would be elated to get a copy.

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Kristen Albert February 29, 2012 at 8:21 AM

I spend countless hours searching for appropriate readings to share with my students each week. I teach Vinyasa power yoga but feel that offering something more than just a rigorous practice, which is what many of my students are seeking initially, is my duty and I get such joy seeing that spark/wow moment that they have had where yoga benefits them in some other way than they envisioned. Naturally the readings I find speak to my heart and are a constant reminder and affirmation in my journey through this life. Yoga has changed my life profoundly on many levels – physically, mentally, spiritually. I love the poem you shared above and will be sharing it today in the 3 classes I teach. I would be honored to have a copy of this book and look forward to the second edition on 12/12/12. Thank you. Wishing you joy, love, and light – Namaste
Kristen

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Jessica Patterson February 29, 2012 at 9:40 AM

This book of poetry speaks to me in a different way with each entry. I feel light and uplifted, inspired and able, intertwined and connected. I can identify with so many of the words written and feel like I, too, am more than the reader. I am a part of each story, the character facing challenges and flaws, I love when poetry can transform me!

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Sondra February 29, 2012 at 10:13 PM

I am grateful for your book review, I love to read poems to my students!
I feel that poetry allows us to step back and experience a perspective in a non-judgemental
way. It opens our eyes to soulful and passionate thinking in a way that is personal and unique. I am sharing “Too Busy to Relax” tomorrow…thanks so much.

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Tami -- Teacher Goes Back to School March 1, 2012 at 12:31 AM

oh poetry of yoga, how i need thee. having class appropriate poetry at my finger tips would definitely help me spread the poetry love.

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Laurie B March 1, 2012 at 6:42 AM

I came to yoga later in life
And discovered its benefits
For healing emotional strife.
Helped me deal with tears and sadness
When my Dad was aging and ill.
And now with open gladness
I share so others have their positive fill.

Poetry is yoga practiced on a page.

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virgo March 1, 2012 at 2:42 PM

it’s amazing!!! thank you for sharing with us…..

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Maria @dailydownwarddog March 5, 2012 at 1:23 PM

Woo Hoo Marge is the lucky winner of The Poetry of Yoga!!

I’ll keep all the remaining entries in the hat and continue to collect entries through this week. Another lucky winner will be selected next Monday, March 12th.

Thanks for all the lovely comments and for stopping by The Daily Downward Dog!

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Maria B March 5, 2012 at 4:13 PM

I love this book and even more so the idea to help inner city communities based on music, art and wellnes. It’s GREAT. The One Love poem is absolutely amazing.

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Maria @dailydownwarddog March 12, 2012 at 12:35 PM

Congrats to Denise the second winner of The Poetry of Yoga.

Thanks again to everyone who entered to win and remember you can purchase your very own copy at http://www.thepoetryofyoga.com. Not only will you get an awesome book of yoga poetry, but you will also be making a donation to support One Common Unity!

Thanks again to HawaH for creating such a lovely anthology and for making them available to DDD readers!

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Jhoanna Mukai October 23, 2012 at 2:09 PM

Hi! How can I order this book? Thank you!

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Maria @dailydownwarddog October 24, 2012 at 9:39 AM

Jhoanna:
Go to this website: http://thepoetryofyoga.com/ to order the book.

Enjoy!

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