Between Poses & Poems – What Yoga & Poetry Have in Common
I’ve been saved by Poems and Poses more times than I could count. But enough times to sense a few commonalities between the two despite their seeming disparateness. Like two cousins who are chalk and cheese at first glance but have more than a few layers in common when you get to know them. Maybe the same mental disorders, similar tastes in music, and some god-forsaken genetic trait that showed up only in these two. Maybe they live on different continents but dream of the same tropical island. Whatever the specifics, you can’t help seeing them as parallel versions of each other once you’ve gone beyond the surface acquaintance and had one too many slumber parties with both. That’s pretty much the scene for me when I look at Poses and Poems.
I’m quite convinced that all our Poems live as Poses in a parallel universe, and all our Poses are Poems that chose to wear bodies instead of words.
It’s not the easiest (or sanest) of conclusions to explain, but I’m going to try.
So what are Poems?
Poetry is where language goes to dance.
Where she drops her manners, deciding she has better things to do than behave.
And if she’s really in the mood, she drops even the words. Sneaking in just when the cautious mind looks the other way, for it may just be too much for it to handle.
Poses are where the body goes to feel like the wild river of sensations it is.
Breaking out of everyone’s definitions, labels and expectations.
Choosing instead to burst into its own radical aliveness, moment after moment. Until the word ‘pose’ gives up trying to encapsulate all that’s transpiring, tumbling and teasing through this wild river we call the body. Often mistaken for a static entity prone to wear-and-tear, this river waits all our lives for us to feel all of it and live all of it.
Poses are doorways into the full experience our own bodies, as long as we’re curious enough to step through them and humble enough to mind our step.
Natarajasana (Dancer Pose)
POSE meaning ASANA?
As far as translations go, ‘pose’ misses the mark by miles when trying to mean ‘Asana’. By the time Asana turns into ‘pose’, a soul has been lost in translation. But that’s another blogpost.
Here are a few traits that I’ve noticed swimming through both Poems and Poses:
The Pause makes the Poem & the Pose
I was at a Feldenkrais movement therapy class a few months ago, when the teacher’s French accent turned ‘pose’ into ‘pause’. And just like that, the world made more sense. What is called a ‘pose’ in the western interpretation of Yoga is far more a pause you find than a pose you strike.
And where would a poem stand without its pauses? The pause is what holds space for both the pose and the poem. The invisible scaffolding that makes the beauty of either possible.
Rhythm is a mutual friend
Found between lines as much as between breaths, rhythm is a friend to both. Glad to lead the way and just as glad to bow out and let you flow your way into your own taste of freedom.
Both nudge us out of the mind’s stories and into the rawness of our being, the part of us that feels. Conditioned patterns giving way to an unconditional presence.
Both are far more question than answer. Meant to be asked in all earnestness and humility, not performed by rote or presumption. Curiosities carried by their own uncertainty, they engage us in inquiry.
Both plonk us into the absolute ‘enoughness’ of the present. So we can stop treating the present like a stepping stone to the future, and the past like some monument overshadowing the present. Poems and poses both ask us to lock eyes with the present, give it our full attention and fall into an intimacy with all the nuts and bolts ‘ordinariness’ we think we need to ‘transcend’ to get to someplace better, sometime later. Because no number of imagined goals and cherished memories can make up for skipping the present.
Both sharpen the ability to be present, until there is no need to grasp at life. It finds you.
Replace the chase for things outside us with a raw sumptuous relish for what’s already inside us.
Both are best served and savoured slow, one inspiration tailing another. With not much regard for the tyranny of time.
Walk you into the mystery of the moment and let you find your own way.
Expand your imagination of who you are, making space for a little more wonder and creativity than you had dared to imagine.
Move you to your edge and suggest that you hang out there awhile, make yourself at home. More edges await.