Isn’t that, after all, what a stanza is for,
So that after a night of listening, unwillingly,
To yourself think, you can walk, slightly hungover,
Through some morning market, sipping tea,
An eye out for that scrap of immaculate azure.
– Robert Hass
Three years ago, I launched Yoga Stanza. Happy anniversary, dear blog!
I was curious to identify intersections of poetry and yoga. I wanted to highlight the quotidian. After being a dedicated journal keeper since childhood, I discarded old notebooks to live openly online.
So, why the name Yoga Stanza?
Well, the yoga part…that’s obvious.
And, stanza? A stanza is a group of lines forming a unit in a poem.
In yoga, an asana is a posture. (There are lots listed on this site, often paired with poems.) The word also contains the meaning of a “seat.”
With each asana, we take a seat in a moment in time in a place in time. We inhabit where we are with dignity, compassion and integrity.
The seat can be a spot in line at DMV or in the center of the sofa flanked by friends. The seat can be in an easy chair with a cat on the lap or on a bicycle zipping down a hill.
We are one : we are two.
We are inside : we are outside.
This is now : that is then.
Where is the bubble in the center of the carpenter’s level that marks equilibrium?
Where is your fulcrum in the see-saw of a life?
This morning in a lesson I offered to students ways to feel into the expansiveness of an exhale. The students are entering their sixth month of practice with me and we’re looking at nuances of breath.
An exhalation is not truly an emptying the way all the air can be squeezed from a balloon or a bag. There can be on the exhalation an enlargement, an elongation, even an amplification.
Every exhalation contains qualities of an inhalation.
Every inhalation contains qualities of an exhalation.
Alive, we breathe one breath. Stitches along a seam of time.
Similarly, all the world’s poems are part of one whole poem.
The end of each poem tones beyond the last uttered syllable of word, the quiet between the exhale and the inhale.
And that resting pose, savasana, that concludes a yoga class? It’s but a pause in the ongoing rhythm of who we are and what we do.
And who you are and what you do.
Like many of you, I’ve seen breath leave a body for a final time. Not an exhalation, that ultimate moment is more of a departure, a separation, a taking of leave. Afterward, all seems quiet, subdued.
Yoga Stanza, dear readers, is suspending her breath. I’m turning more attention to teaching: face-to-face, hand-to-body and heart-to-heart (as my teacher, Cyndi, puts it). You all know teaching yoga is my true joy.
I’ve returned to journaling with my favorite practice of keeping a commonplace book, transcribing passages from my reading to rediscover down the line and possibly weave into concepts for classes.
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P.S. Peruse the blog’s past offerings. Posts are organized by topic and searchable by key word. Lots of good stuff here, all available (including the poems and recipes!) to share. Please do credit me and other contributors for our ideas: this project has been a labor of love. Love, Alexa