Tadasana + Stephen Kessler

Inside the word “record” is cor, the Latin root for “heart.”  This short poem reminds us to be aware of what passes through us and what  moves us to notice. I’ve paired it with tadasana, mountain pose, from whence we start  standing poses,  the place we  pause to listen.

What Did You Lose

What did you lose that you never wrote–

only the music moving through your heart

when no need moved you to record its notes.

Stephen Kessler

Note: Poem first published in Scratch Pegasus, (Swan Scythe Press, 2013); used by permission of the poet

Pair with: tadasana

Speak: Like a mountain, this poem is sturdy (one sentence) and bold (an interrogative with no question mark). Open your voice to both wonder and strength.

Consider: What music moves through your heart?

Urdhva Dhanurasana + Olav Hague

Urdhva dhanurasana, also referred to as upward bow or wheel pose, can feel like a blossoming of the heart. The pose can be energizing and joyful, sometimes even more so with a partner helping you lift, as this poem does, into a “brilliant bloom.”

You Want Only to Be

No root groping

in the hard rock,

no sprout, no sapling,

not the strong bole in the storm,

no humble branch,

no bast, no bark

in frost and snow–

no rising sap,

no force to grow,

no fruit, no seed,

not the leaf quietly

building its dome–

you want only to be

the brilliant bloom.

 

Olav Hague, transl. Robin Fulton

Note: Poem first published in Selected Poems, (White Pine Press, 1990); used by permission of the publisher

Pair with: urdhva dhanurasana

Speak: This poem contains a list of negatives (no and not). A dash separates that list from the last lines, which fulfill the title of the poem. Allow rhythm to develop through the list; pause after the poem’s second dash.

Consider: Read the poem before lifting into upward bow. Carry the last two lines with you, “you want only to be/the brilliant bloom” as you rise. How does it feel to flower?

Andrée Chedid

 

In Praise of Emptiness

 

We need

The empty

To find

The full

So that the dream

Unfolds

So that the breath

Takes in

 

So that the fruit

Sprouts

We need

All the hollows

 

And the want.

 

Andrée Chedid, translation by Annie Finch

Note: Poem first published in Spells (Wesleyan University Press, 2013); used by permission of the publisher

Pair with: baddha konasana

Speak: This poem is one sentence. How do the words link together? Pause slightly at the end of each brief line.

Consider: “Empty” comes from an Old English word meaning “unoccupied” as in “not busy.” What is the balance for you between rest and activity, hollowness and want?

Michael Blumenthal

And the Dark Has Encapsulated the Nighttime, and the Trees Are Gone

 

The moon was out last night, mysterious as ever,

Janus-faced, casting its light over the stubborn trees,

and when I went out, singing beneath the willow,

 

who else but the lucky owls, the inscrutable fox,

the secretive hedgehog, and the scototopic moles

would have seen me there, who else might have

 

known that I was singing to no one? Everything that

fruits and blossoms and cries out has its mysteries, even

the old plum with its prematurely rotted fruits, the fig

 

struggling to find sunlight against the wall, the apricot

that keeps me guessing year in and year out as to

its possible future–even they have no vision of the

 

afterlife that’s any likelier than my own. Listen:

in the creeping dark, a bumblebee sleeps in its nest,

dreaming of honey, a reptile, a little garden snake

 

dozes beneath the stones and, when we all wake

in the morning, who will be any wiser for what

the trees have whispered to themselves in our absence,

 

and who will have overheard me singing, and who

could have ventured even a guess that this is how it

would all end, that the sun would resurface again

 

to find only this, only this, and the trees in vain.

 

Michael Blumenthal

Note: Poem  first published in And (BOA Editions, Ltd., 2009); used by permission of the publisher

Pair with: simple supported backbend

Speak: The poem’s stanzas are even, three lines each, until the final stanza. Slow down on that final line, lingering over the commas.

Consider: Reflect on these lines: “Everything that/fruits and blossoms and cries out has its mysteries.” How can we see into the mystery of everything?

For more of Michael Blumenthal’s work, click here.

 

Natarajasana + M.C. Richards

“Behold” comes from the Old English for “to hold thoroughly.” In dancer’s pose, natarajasana, a foot is firmly held as the body extends, requiring concentration, balance and a sense of wonder. The pose calls on all of the body, as does the poem below. Opening the chest to receive breath, natarajasana reminds that we are alive and connected to all that lives, one song.

Behold

 

Behold Behold

in the eyes of the sea the spell is spoken.

Watery creatures we are, living on land.

How full of fire and air, fluid and crystalline.

So formed, our lives are the dreams of the world.

 

Each coming through the door of self,

we carry rays of light reciprocal.

We gather into one to make a truth,

each shining bit an offering of the sum.

 

What inner hunger rises toward the Good?

What inner source unfolds the mandala we learn?

Now here like artists in our search

we make a vessel for the spirit’s birth.

 

Behold Behold

the Mystery whose music is our song.

“Weep. Be innocent. Forgive. Press on.”

The song sings us. We are its tune.

 

M.C. Richards

Note:  first published in Imagine Inventing Yellow, Station Hill, 1991; poem used by permission of the press

Pair with: natarajasana

Speak: Notice the music of the poem. The poet uses repetition and alliteration, qualities of song. This is a poem to delight in reciting. Enjoy!

Consider: What happens in your heart when you allow, even for a moment, “the song [to sing you]. [To be] its tune.”?