06 September 2009

Atha Yoganusasanam

A beginning. As a writer and teacher I make my living with language. The practice of yoga gives shape and meaning to that living. When I first began studying yoga nearly twelve years ago, I started to see yoga not just in the studio, but off the mat, out in the world as I went about my daily work, chores, play. I saw it in the way a breeze bent back the small branches of a pin oak just outside my window. I noticed it in the rhythm of a colleague's high heels clicking down the hallway, how my breath followed the sound of her steps. And when I studied a poem, an essay, a play, a novel for school, I felt the authors giving voice to the principles of yoga practice even though that may not have been their intention.

Thus, while yoga defined my subjectivity in responding to literature, literature also shaped how I responded to yoga. When my instructor told us that being in Savasana was a little like practicing to be dead, I thought of Emily Dickinson's poetry, her imaginative flights into and beyond the grave. When we talked about union, connectedness, Emerson's notion of the Oversoul came to mind. Hopkins poems sang out in celebration of the perfect divinity of imperfection. Even Gertrude Stein's quirky repetitions and patter began to fit themselves into the cosmic pattern I was discerning all about me.

I thought perhaps it was a phase, my new obsession with yoga was simply that, an obsession which, like so many others in my past, would abate and fade. Yet, a dozen linear years later, I still find yoga at work in my perceptions of the world. And so, I have decided to start chronicling this experience. My efforts here with The Literary Yogi are aimed at articulating those connections, and in doing so, deepening my yoga practice and perhaps encouraging readers in theirs. Happy reading! Namaste.