Poetry to fuel life

Although I have been leading restorative yoga classes for the past several years, yesterday was my first candlelight restorative class at a relatively new and absolutely charming yoga studio off Main Street Markham. I’m incredibly grateful for the opportunity to guide classes in this space.

As I prepared for yesterday’s class, designing the sequence, packing my essential oils, and creating a playlist, a wave of nervousness rose over me for a few brief moments. This isn’t something new. As an introvert, I often get slightly nervous when preparing to venture into new territory to meet a new group of people. I wonder about how I will be perceived. Will Xavier Rudd’s and Trevor Hall’s words resonate with them, or do they prefer music without lyrics? Do they like to move gently before settling into long-held supported poses?
I heard the whisper-thin nudge to breathe, to soften my shoulders, welcome in the new opportunity and avoid using the term ‘introvert’ as an excuse. I was reminded of a line from one of my favourite poems by Mary Oliver:
Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?
Yoga is my passion and my dharma, and I want to share it with as many people as I possibly can. I acknowledge the experience of nervousness, then let it go, shifting my focus to continue walking my path with honesty.

I picked up my yoga mat bag, essentials oils, iPod, lips balm, and house keys, slipping them into the small pocket of the canvas bag. Having kissed Wanderlust Juniors goodbye, just before heading out the door, I slipped a folded sheet of paper into the pocket of my bag in order to share Mary Oliver’s words with the new yogis I was to meet. I read the poem to them during Savasana and finished the class to the sight of genuinely warm and grateful smiles.

The Summer Day
by Mary Oliver
Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean-
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down-
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?
from New and Selected Poems, 1992
Beacon Press, Boston, MA

Do you tend to feel nervous in new situations? Do you sometimes experience ‘stage fright,’ even though you may have previously spent many hours speaking before a crowd? What reminders do you use to bring yourself back to the present moment, to focus on serving your dharma, walking your path? Please leave a comment below to contribute to the discussion.

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