Some of the most beautiful poetry I hear on a daily basis is in yoga class. After attending the Yoga Journal Conference in NYC this past weekend, I’m reminded why yoga teachers are some of the best spoken word poets out there. Many times I found myself rushing to scribble down a scrap from a sentence dying on their lips as they moved on to the next treasure.
Language is one of the most important tools a yoga teacher has. The best teachers I have use their words to explain, to evoke, to remind me of myself.
Their words allow me to understand important concepts in yoga. Like when Sarah Powers from Insight Yoga explained how insight meditation is meant to be experiential, a direct touching of what is beautiful and indestructible no matter what has happened to us or will happen to us.*
Or when Rodney Yee and Colleen Saidman Yee said during a supine twist in an Urban Zen Integrative Restorative Workshop to give the body its weight, to feel the water of the body (we are made up of water, remember that from science class?) pouring out on the earth, to feel sensation in the rivers of the arms pouring out the outlets of the wrists into the fingers.* Swoon…
We know that language is felt physically in the body. Words allow us to imagine. Often in fiction or poetry, we let the words transport us, to take us away. But the point is not to imagine out of ourselves in yoga practice. Colleen mentioned that studies have found mindfulness practice (feeling sensations and leaning into what’s there no matter how uncomfortable) has been found to be more effective at dealing with pain than guided imagery. Which makes sense since the most beautiful words I heard this weekend were simply pointers, poetry directing me back to myself.
Like when Elena Brower said on Friday night to feel the back of the heart and then the space in the bones.* The body itself becomes a manuscript, the Book of Being Human, of living in this physical form. Nothing new to be discovered, just a beautiful poem of cells and breath waiting to be read.
*I’m loosely quoting because I was in a yoga trance most of the time