Posts Tagged 'hafiz'


When I moved from home to go to college, my mom gave me a “special book” of handwritten quotes and poems she thought I’d like. The inscription included the instruction: Add your own as you find them. She even included a piece of lined paper to place behind the delicate, transparent pages of the journal so that I would write straight.

I can’t remember when I started reading poetry. Or when I knew that it was a special language of the soul.

I do remember times in my life when a poem saved me. When writing a poem was the only way I knew to express the darkest of hurts, or when another’s seemed to say what I couldn’t.

Today, I have more poetry books than any other kind (even yoga!). I read poetry almost every day.

It inspires my yoga and is probably the most important part of my teaching. I will plan a whole class around a poem, or sometimes a poem brings a class plan together and gives it substance.

Students often ask me for the poems, where I get them, how I choose them. Honestly, now they find me. People will bring them to me, from loose photocopies to hardback books.

In honor of poetry month, I thought I’d share a few of my favorite poets and poems here. I hope you enjoy.



The Poet Healer – Poems compiled by Chip Spann

This book was created as a companion for the journey through illness. Spann weaves his autobiographical story throughout, which serves as an introduction to the sections of poems as well as a trigger to deeper and surprising meaning. This book was a gift from Nina, and I wish I could share every single poem in it. If you have only one poetry book, make it this one.

I read from it here as my contribution to Maria Shriver’s invitation to celebrate Poetry Month.

And here is just one… from Jane Kenyon:

Finding a Long Gray Hair

I scrub the long floorboards
in the kitchen, repeating
the motions of other women
who have lived in this house.
And when I find a long gray hair
floating in the pail,
I feel my life added to theirs.


Mary Oliver

Anything by her. Every single one is magic. She is in her 80s now, still writing. She rarely does interviews/appearances, does not seem to have a website (find her poems online with a search). Nature, simplicity, paying attention, and a genuine awe for life imbue her work.

Even if you get the Poet Healer, you have to get a Mary Oliver book, too. Sorry.


David Whyte

His voice. *Swoon.* ┬áHis poetry is soulful and rich. It takes you somewhere you don’t understand. A student loaned me some cassette tapes of his and a whole new world opened up. He lectures and writes books, poetry and other.

Many of his poems are on the pages of his website. Go to every page and copy/paste. He travels for speaking engagements. If he’s near you’re town, GO.


Ellen Bass

I don’t know her work well or broadly, but a few of my all-time favs come from her. Gate C2. And Don’t Expect Applause.


Billy Collins

Please. For goodness sake, click here. Nothing like listening to the poet read himself, accompanied by strange and beautiful animation. Plus Billy Collins is wickedly funny. See Forgetfulness, Today, Some Days, and be sure to read Flames.


Of course, Hafiz and Rumi. Of course, Rilke and Robert Bly. And so many others. So many unnamed. The poet in each of us.


When you hear of someone or know the title of a poem, Google it. There are tons of good poem repositories out there… too many to list here. I post many of the poems from class on the studio blog.

I heard it recommended once to memorize your favorite poem. I’m still trying to choose.

What is your favorite? What poets do you love? Are you a secret closet poet??


Permanent Retreat

During my Recess I had some sessions with Hiro, who I met at Havi’s retreat.

Hiro is a clairvoyant personal and business coach. Yes, it is the most awesome combo ever.

In one session, she talked about the dualities of life, and how we are constantly negotiating between polar ends, integrating aspects of ourselves which are both dual and unity: lightness/darkness, joy/pain, material/spiritual. This is one of the things I love so much about Yoga: grounding/rising, inner/outer rotations, ease/effort, strength/softness. We cannot have one without the other.

One of the things she “saw” in me was a tendency to get stuck in retreat. When duality gets too noisy and complicated I retreat into simplicity. While this is somewhat natural and necessary, she saw me using it as a way to withdraw rather than refuel. As a way to avoid the polarities of the world.

This message came up again last week. A student loaned me some cassette tapes (thank goodness I still have my Walkman) of poet David Whyte. I am on my 3rd listening of the first tape (even if the content was rubbish, his voice, accent, and manner of speech are intoxicating) where he illustrates this idea with the image of walking down a country dirt road: A huge storm comes. You take shelter in the barn until the storm passes. Sometimes the warmth and protection of the barn feel so good, so easy and safe, you never leave. But you have to get back on the road. You have to keep going.

And because things come in threes, this message arrived, or rather departed, again out of the dove’s nest in our backyard. (As you know from this post as well.)

Hiro said, This shuffling from pain to retreat, retreat to pain is not necessary. The flow of soul is the integrating force.

Hafiz said, How did the rose ever open its heart….? It felt the encouragement of light against its being. It felt love.

It’s quite scary to come out of the barn, to leave the nest, to feel the emotion, to have the conversation, the relationship.

And even more scary that I have to do it on my own. I can take the wisdom and support and encouragement of others with me, but those alone will not create the movement. The leap, the step, the gesture, have to be mine.

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