Can poetry have a place in our Yoga Practice?

Can Poetry Have a Place in our Yoga Practice?

Many of us read a poem before or after our yoga practice, but this article explores how interweaving poetry inside of our yoga practices can bring presence and magic into our studios and into our lives by Corie Feiner

Reading time: 5 minutes

Yoga and poetry can be considered different art forms, but both have the same guiding principles – they both ask us to pause, pay attention, and to feel. When separate, they potentially offer a powerful experience. When combined, they can create magic.

Yoga uses the tools of the body. Poetry uses the tools of the written word on the page. They meet each other in the union of breath and how through the physical means of this world, we can touch something greater than ourselves.

It is becoming more common to read a poem at the beginning of a yoga class to help set a meditative tone to a practice; and to read a poem at the end of a class during the receptive space that Savasana offers. Most often, the poems read are by Mary Oliver, Rumi, James Wright, Tagore, and other poets of the mystic cannon.  When I set out to write, A Poem for Every Pose, it was with the intention for each poem to be about the pose itself and to honor and embody its depth and healing potential to the best of our abilities; and to integrate them into yoga sequences while we are in the actual poses. Downward Dog is read as we stretch in our version of  Downward Dog. Mountain Pose is read while we are in our version of Mountain Pose.

A Poem for Every Pose started with Hero Pose. Early one morning, I was sitting in Hero and asked myself, These days, what does it mean to be a hero?

I thought of how the myth of the Hero’s Journey has most often been an external one, but how now, more than ever, the hero’s journey is within.

This is the poem that was born from that moment—

Hero Pose

By Corie Feiner


What is it mean to be a hero?

To kneel on any piece of floor
you can find, your knees pressed together,
your feet apart, your big toes reaching

towards each other in stillness and longing?

What does it mean to lean forwards
and backwards at the same time?

To bring ourselves closer
to ourselves, and to this earth?

To ask, What battles rage
inside of me?

And to conquer them, not with
the steel blade of anger or the shoveled
dirt of burying them deep inside,
but with the devotion of breath
that is born of the wind.

Ask yourself, What do I love the most?
Then leap towards it, ready to become
a mountain, a drop of ocean water,
a self-contained storm.

Sanskrit Name: Virasana

At the time, I didn’t think I would write another poem... until the next one came and then the next one. With the feedback of my yoga community and many yoga instructors, A Poem for Every Pose was born.

As a former curriculum integration specialist, I offer this collection of poems to yoga instructors and practitioners as a way to breathe new life into our yoga practice, deepen our connection to each pose, and give us a sacred moment of mind/body/spirit alignment and pause. The poems can be read before or after your practice or interwoven into the entire flow of a yoga sequence. Here are several you can start using right now —

Mountain Pose

By Corie Feiner

Every day is a new day to relearn how
to stand, to lift my head away from sink dishes
and screens, to roll my shoulders

from their good-for-nothing slouch, to hold
my neck high as if there was a string
from heaven pulling me upwards saying,
You were born of us, too.

Today, I stand like a mountain and tell myself,
This is where everything begins. Still and solid
with arms that flow by my sides like wild rivers
shimmering with life.


Here, I become a witness to time itself
watching my thoughts come and go
like wind-swept clouds knowing no matter

what storms come my way, my feet can hold me
to the earth as I crumble and rise, crumble and rise
humble and holy, dirty, and divine.

Sanskrit Name: Tadasana

This poem invites you or your students to befriend themselves while being in the receptivity of Downward Dog. It can be used as part of any practice—

Downward Dog

By Corie Feiner

Here, I become my own best friend.
I follow myself from room to room
and lick my face with love.

I sit at my feet when I read and when I throw
my heart away from myself, I leap to fetch it
and bring it back in my panting mouth with glee.

When I see danger, I bark to protect everything
I hold sacred, and when I speak to myself
I cock my head to the side and listen as if everything
I am saying needs to be heard.

When I wake up from a nap taken smack dab
in the middle of the day, I rise to my hands,
spread my paws, curl my toes, raise my knees,
shift my stomach toward my thighs, lift my hips
as high as they will go, and wag.

Here, I become the union of the sun and moon,
and all that appears to be opposite in this world.


All my life, I was scared of dogs in the same way
I was scared of myself, until, one night
I came to share the same small bed with
a large red dog who kept me warm and safe
from my once terrifying dreams.

Now, I wait for myself by the door
every time I leave and when I hear
the familiar jingle of my keys,
I bark, so excited I have finally come home.


Sanskrit Name: Adho Mukha Svanasana 

This poem can be read as part of a heart opening sequence or read to anyone who needs a lift—


Star Pose

By Corie Feiner


To be in star pose is to stand with your heart
so open it could feel worthy of taking up
any space it needs.

It is to hold your body upright, to spread
your arms and legs so wide you can swear
they twinkle, your breath shimmering
with light.

It is to remember that you, too, are made of
the same stuff as all star bodies that guide even
the most storm-tossed ships back to shore.

We have seen the beginning of time over
and over again and, each time, it seems
like the end,

but know this, as you stand there, that you
are a wish in someone else’s sky.

Sanskrit Name: Utthita Tadasana

When poetry is incorporated into your yoga practice, it creates a synergistic effect of creating more space in our minds as we create more space in our bodies. It deepens our connection to our movements, activates our healing potential, and brings us into the present moment.

If you are a yoga practitioner, I invite you to read Hero Pose at the beginning of your practice, Mountain Pose as part of a grounding practice, or to slip in Downward Dog or Star Pose in a heart opening practice. Or, if someone you know could use a moment of opening their hearts in a safe space, try a stand-alone Star Pose and watch their minds, bodies, and spirits open just enough to shine.

Corie Feiner

Corie Feiner is the Poet Laureate Emeritus of Bucks County, PA and an award-winning poet, performer, and author of the forthcoming yoga poetry collection, A Poem for Every Pose.