Posts Tagged ‘yoga’


            after an hour of yoga with Erika Moss
Curled on the earth
like a small animal,
I bury my nose in the grass
and breathe in the surprising sweetness
of spring green and purple bloom
and soil still damp from last night’s rain,
and though my eyes are closed
the desert sun enters anyway,
infusing my inner world
with radiance, with red.
There are so many ways
I work to hold myself up,
but in this soft moment,
I notice how nothing
is asked of me and how,
when I am still,
the world I might ignore
invites itself in.
There is such a thing,
says my friend,
as the back of the heart.
It is, she says, like the dark side
of the moon.
I honor that dark side,
that quiet, shadowy terrain
that is no less necessary,
no less true for being dim.
There will be a time to unfurl,
to open, to shine, to rise,
but in this charmed interval,
I sink deeper, deeper
into what is cool,
what is quiet,
what is beyond my knowing.
The interval builds a nest around me.
I do nothing and feel
how I am held.

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On the First Day of the New Year

I twist.
My knees
go right,
my gaze
goes left.
I pause
like this—
in deep
wring out
old stress
like water.
I inhale
and lengthen,
exhale, squeeze.
How quickly
new thoughts
rush in.
I twist

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In these darkened days,

I think of the potato

that, left in the pantry,

will grow long white arms

to reach for the light.


There is, of course,

a beauty in reaching.

But today I think of Augusta

who taught me

the beauty of softening—


how the same reaching effect

can be achieved

by focusing on the part

that isn’t reaching,

letting it soften.


Soften, she said.

Soften. And it was as if

I were new in my body.

The effect was the same,

the method the opposite.


I love how I didn’t know

there was something

so beautiful yet to learn

about letting go. I love

these lessons in softening—


how, on this morning I learn again

to relax, to unstrive, to unreach,

to lean into ease, and like a camellia blossom,

in the dark of winter to open,

to find such sweet release.


















20 billion atoms from Shakespeare

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We sit with legs crossed and shins stacked

and attempt to bend forward.

The yoga instructor waxes about the benefits

of forward folds—how our ancestors bent

to pick sustenance from the earth

and how forward bends create

so much space in the spine—and

the whole while, my hips

are opening into red-petalled agony.

I have heard, of course, of how

forward bends lead to introspection—a

literal folding in on the self.

How they calm the nervous system

and quiet the mind. I also remember

my father’s advice when I came to him

with a sore thumb. Well, he would say,

I can drop a rock on your toe and

you won’t think about your thumb

anymore. No wonder the mind is quiet

when doing forward folds in knee-to-ankle pose.

It’s because the hips are throwing such a hissy fit

the mind can’t get in a word.

The instructor moves amongst the mats

and calls what we are doing research.

She invites us to get curious about what seems

to be holding us back. One more lesson,

I suppose, in how the obstacle is the way.

I lean deeper into the blooming red ache.

And the mind gets very quiet. And the folding

becomes an unfolding, and I feel

as if I am harvesting something—release,

perhaps, or insight—from right there in front of me,

something I can almost touch

the more I get out of the way.

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Once again, the field rehearses how to die.

Some of the grass turns golden first. Some

simply fades into brown. Just this morning,

I, too, lay in corpse pose, practicing

how to let myself be totally held by the earth

without striving, how to meet the day

without rushing off to do the next necessary

or beautiful thing. Soon, the grass will bend

or break, molder or disintegrate. Every year,

the same lesson in how to join

the darkness, how to be unmade, how quietly

we might lean into the uncertainty

of whatever comes next.

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A few weeks ago, my friend Sarah Hutchinson wrote and asked if we could do an interview for her vlog, Yoga Wisdom and Wellness. How do we care for ourselves in difficult times? How do we care for each other? Sarah and I are planning to do a day of poetry and yoga in Grand Junction this fall … more about that soon.

I hope you enjoy our conversation, available on video http://www.yogawisdomandwellness.com/yoga-and-poetry/?inf_contact_key=6e2770c33a8367c40362045ee888fe5a53ff3f8439d2ce904643bbae7ffdc222 or you can download the audio https://www.dropbox.com/s/lt7r58qn97cfwba/Edited%20%26%20Balanced%20Audio%20-%20World%20Woman%20-%20March%202017.mp3?dl=0&inf_contact_key=a6dd7cc93228ef0d842b8eb77085981afabaa0f012dc0998000f24fd4dabc2d0

All the best!



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She says, The first place
you notice your lack of commitment
is in your hands. Are they cupped?
Press all four corners
flat into the earth. Feel how the ground
pushes energy back up through your arms.

She says, The next place
you notice your lack of commitment
is in your elbows. If they bend,
you depend on your muscles
instead of letting your skeleton
support you.


I think about the undersides of things.
How if you lift a rock,
there’s another, dark world
writhing and wriggling
and so full of life.


She says, The next place
you notice your lack of commitment
is in your back, how it bends
like a banana, gets soft like a noodle.

She says, It is easy as standing.

She says, Any fear is a trick of the mind.


Not once
have I found a scorpion
under a stone.
Every time I lift one
I worry.


She says, Three inches from the wall,
plant your fingertips. At the edge of the wall,
fix your gaze. First bring the feet
just beneath the navel.
Then raise one foot.
Then two.


If a woman
stays too long
in one place,
what begins
to grow?


She says, The head
is beneath the heart.

She says, It’s another way
to see.

She says, You must overcome
your fear of falling.

She says, Try.


Upside down, and
my fear falls out
of my pockets. And something else,
falls out, too, I can’t yet say
what it is,
but the tears afterward,
they were not grief
nor loss, they tasted
more like
rain that falls
on ground
that has just been cleared.

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It is awkward
at first, both hands
on the ground,
both feet straight up
in the air.
Still the heart,
as it floats
above the head
pumps steadily
through the fear.
And the arms,
they know how
to hold the weight
though they’ve never
done it before.
But the head
as it hangs, it
vexes and frets
to find itself
so near the floor.
So it tells the arms,
Buckle, and it all
falls down—
the head, the legs,
the breath, the core,
it all falls down
except for the
voice that rises
from somewhere
not in the head
saying, more,
do it more,
please, more.

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Erika on the red mat
tucks her right foot in her groin
and bends forward from the waist

then lowers till she’s hovering
above her left tippy toes.
If you can’t follow

what I’m saying, that’s
because her body’s twisted,
furled and folded as a body seldom is.

But full of grace,
she brings her hands
to meet in prayer in front of her

and for a minute poises there,
a compact bulb with five small roots
and a patient shoot waiting

to push up and through.
It’s beautiful to stand beside
Erika on the red mat

to feel more than see
the rising energy as like
a tulip in the spring

she reaches not just up
but into the quiet balance point
where anything can happen.

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Start on all fours,
placing your hands
below your shoulders,
your knees

below your hips.
Bring your right knee
forward to touch
your right wrist.

Slowly inch your right shin
toward the midline of your body.
Now straighten your left leg
toward the back.

Keep your hips level,
and as they settle
press your fingertips firmly
into the floor.

Now walk your hands forward,
inhale deeply,
and exhale as you fold forward,
lowering your elbows to the floor.

The sensations that flood
your hips might feel great—
or slightly unnerving—
or a combination of the two.

Breathe. Observe
the reactions in your mind.
Let go of them
by relaxing your eyes.

Continue to breathe
into your hips.
Allow your belly to melt.
You’re peeling back layers of tension.

Feel your hips
and your mind soften
Allow waves
to wash over you. 

After the forward bend,
inhale back up.
Press down through your fingertips
and lift your hips.

Take five deep breaths.
Observe how you feel.
There’s no need to attach
any meaning to the sensations.

No need to worry or judge yourself.
Strong as these sensations are,
they’ll soon morph
into different feelings.

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