April is National Poetry Month, and we can’t help but notice how two seemingly unrelated concepts- yoga and poetry- are actually quite similar. Perhaps even more so than you might think.
If you haven’t read any poetry since your high school English lit class, don’t fret. Poetry doesn’t have to be difficult or intimidating, and you’ll soon see that it might have some characteristics that sound familiar to you. Let’s start with the basics.
What is Poetry?
Poetry unites thoughts and emotions with the art of writing. It’s different from prose; prose consists of straightforward, literal sentences and paragraphs, whereas a poem will have verses (lines) and stanzas and makes use of poetic devices like metaphor, simile, etc. to convey meaning.
A poem will usually work on a subconscious level, instead of a conscious one. It will capture a small moment in time and magnify it, by using language in a certain way to evoke feelings. It can create a stunning image that sticks to your mind.
Okay… So, What Does That Have to Do with Yoga?
I got into the practice of writing poetry again lately, and it got me thinking of just how many similarities it has with yoga. Let’s take a closer look.
Rhythm and flow
The key factor that distinguishes poetry from prose, is that fact that it is condensed, concise and follows a certain rhythm and flow. Without those elements, a poem would seem forced, unnatural and tiring.
Think about your yoga practice. No matter what type of yoga you are into, you use your breath to create a rhythm in your practice. Even if all you do is practice a few sun salutations, you flow from pose to pose by following a certain rhythm.
Poets play with language and poetic devices in ways that create a certain flow. Just like in your vinyasa practice, where one pose graciously gives its place to the next one and each transition serves a certain purpose for your whole practice, the words in a poem work in the same way. The flow will not always be the same, whether it’s yoga or poetry we’re referring to. It can be gentle and slow, or fast and rigorous. It can be light and whimsical or heavy and slow.
Both poetry and yoga are the utmost expression of creativity.
If you are a yoga teacher, you probably know how much creativity is needed in order to create a class. The same applies when you are doing your home practice, where you allow your body to flow from one pose to the next and find yourself creating your own little yoga flow.
The same goes if you put pen to paper and start writing a poem. You add one verse after the other and end up creating a unique poem, which expresses certain emotions and thoughts. It helps you express yourself and commmunicate with others, by evoking similar feelings in them as well.
Another characteristic that both yoga and poetry share is mindfulness.
Yoga requires you to enter the present moment, focus on what is happening around you and leave everything else aside. By focusing on the breath, you become more aware of your body and state of mind.
A poem usually zooms into a certain moment in time, and when you are reading or writing it, it also requires you to focus on the present moment, if you are to fully grasp its meaning and true colors. It urges you to slow down and use all your senses. It helps you put into words concepts that may have been only thoughts or feelings up to that point.
Yogis and Poets
In the end, whether you are a yogi or a poet, or even both, you are searching to find a practice that brings you peace and awareness.
So, if you haven’t been reading or writing poetry, maybe it’s time to give it a try! You might find a new outlet for creativity and expression that has many similarities to other things in your life. Like yoga.
Over to you Bad Yogis. Do you have any favorite poems or poets?