Yoga and Poetry

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I’ve been waking up grumpy. Almost like a teenager. Like, pleeeeeease just five more minutes.

After two years of sleep deprivation, we are finally sleeping through the night. I should be rising with the smile of the well-rested. But every morning at 4 or 4:30 or 4:45, my toddler leaves her bed and crawls into ours. Sometimes she settles down, but most times she tosses and turns, thrashing her body against mine. She will say, “I love you so much!” and “Remember, we go party yesterday?” Because apparently every day is a party.

My friend Rachel wrote about her morning yoga routine with her little ones and it got me thinking. I have to turn this around. What if we started each morning with five sun salutations? What if we woke each day and recited this Mary Oliver poem like a prayer?

We practiced this afternoon. Hands together, namaste. Arms stretching way up. Bending forward to touch our toes. When I moved into other poses, like cobra and downward-facing dog, she started to climb my body. But a few sun salutations… I think we can do it. Tomorrow morning, we start anew.

(Post 224 of 365)

Why I Wake Early

-Mary Oliver

Hello, sun in my face.

Hello, you who make the morning

and spread it over the fields

and into the faces of the tulips

and the nodding morning glories,

and into the windows of, even, the

miserable and crotchety—

best preacher that ever was,

dear star, that just happens

to be where you are in the universe

to keep us from ever-darkness,

to ease us with warm touching,

to hold us in the great hands of light—

good morning, good morning, good morning.

Watch, now, how I start the day

in happiness, in kindness.


4 thoughts on “Yoga and Poetry”

  1. Thank you for that Mary Oliver poem! I didn’t know that one! Thank you for this lovely post, for waking up early with gratitude, for trying to, for reminding me to, for reaching to the sky. (Yes, she always climbs on me too. Or under, or right next to sort of pushing me over when my balance is already bad. I give her the mat and then she comes off the mat too and sits right up against me.) Thank you for trying and for helping me keep trying.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I was so happy to discover that poem, too! And when I read it aloud yesterday morning and again this morning, her response was, “again!” The sun salutations were not as successful. In fact, she had a tantrum and ended up falling down the stairs. So much for our zen morning! But I will keep trying! 🙂


  2. I am so sorry to hear about the tantrum & falling down the stairs! (Maybe we should write a children’s book about failed yoga sessions…tears, tantrums, anything-but-zen). Found this and had to send it your way, from Dani Shapiro published in The Virginia Quarterly Review last fall: “I can only fail myself by abandoning what I know to be true. ‘Begin again,’ the Buddhists say. When caught up in our own thoughts, when stuck—mired in the small, the petty, the wasteful—we can always simply begin again. Yoga has taught me this. Each time I press my palms together over my heart in namaste, coming back to center at the end of each pose or sequence, I am offering myself the opportunity to begin again. Lost? Begin again. Sad? Begin again. Caught up in the past? Daydreaming about the future? Begin again and again. The writing life is painstakingly slow.”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. A book of failed yoga sessions with kids–yes! I instantly see a laughing Buddha…and drawings of a woman in various poses while a child climbs her.

      We were so lucky, Isabella survived the fall down the stairs unscathed. And I remained calm (I credit the Oliver poem).

      Your ability to pull the perfect quote always amazes me. I copied this one into my notebook, so that I may return to it again and again. Thank you so much for this!


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