Lately, I've been leading workshops on one of my all-time favorite things to talk about -- which is talking!
Seriously, though, as a yoga teacher, your voice is one of the most powerful tools you have. And I believe the territory poets and writers encounter through the medium of language is similar terrain the yogi encounters along the 8-limbed path: both writers and yogis enter mystery in all its manifestations, and seek to navigate the strange, beautiful, paradoxical human experience.
Teaching yoga is a deeply humbling, inspiring, and soul-fulfilling experience. That being said, if you're leading multiple classes a week, you might begin to feel like you're reciting the same rote script over and over again. Your language can feel stale, even if it's only to you (and chances are that's the case -- your students will not notice, or mind).
If you could use a little fresh inspiration to liven up your language -- and who couldn't every once in a while? -- I've compiled some of my favorite yoga quotes and poems from the past 11 years of teaching.
Inspiring Quotes for Yoga Classes
"The moment is now. The present moment is not just a progression of past moments, but is alive in its own way, complete and perfect. And it is this new moment that demands our attention. Only in the moment can we be fully awake and respond to the real needs of ourselves and others. Only in the present moment can we be fully attentive."
~ Llewellen Vaughn Lee
"Wisdom is knowing I am nothing. Love is knowing I am everything. And in between the two, my life moves."
~ Nisargadatta Maharaj
"Everything changes. Everything is connected. Pay attention."
~ Jane Hirschfield, on how she defines Buddhism
"Experience life in all possible ways ~ good-bad, bitter-sweet, dark-light, summer-winter. Experience all the dualities. Don't be afraid of experience, because the more experience you have, the more mature you become."
"Life is like music; for its own sake. We are living in an eternal now, and when we listen to music we are not listening to the past, we are not listening to the future, we are listening to an expanded present."
~ Alan Watts
"Where your attention goes, energy flows."
~ James Redfield
"Only when we act without judgment can we truly flourish in our lives. Yoga means becoming one. As long as we stand apart in judgment, we sabotage the opportunity for connection and integration that is yoga. So I encourage you: get into that canoe and ride with the river. Commit and don’t look back. Before our bodies can open, they must first let go; the clenched and guarded muscles must relax. But the mind must let go first."
~ Rolf Gates, Meditations from the Mat
"To know that we are not our thoughts is the first step toward freedom."
~ Stephen Cope, The Wisdom of Yoga
"It is not fashionable in so-called spiritual circles these days to talk of struggle. But the ancient yogis did not hesitate to acknowledge that life is full of struggle and pain. And yet, these early practitioners found that struggle itself could be transmuted into the most noble characteristics of the human being. Indeed, an optimal life is not possible without struggle. Liberation and struggle are two sides of the same coin."
~ Stephen Cope, The Wisdom of Yoga
“Do everything with a mind that lets go. Don’t accept praise or gain or anything else. If you let go a little you a will have a little peace; if you let go a lot you will have a lot of peace; if you let go completely you will have complete peace. ”
~ Ajahn Chan
Poetry for Opening a Yoga Class & Savasana
The Guest House
This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice.
meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.
Be grateful for whatever comes.
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.
Behind the Thunder
I keep looking for one more teacher,
only to find that fish learn from water
and birds learn from sky.
If you want to learn about the sea,
it helps to be at sea.
If you want to learn about compassion,
it helps to be in love.
If you want to learn about healing,
it helps to know of suffering.
The strong live in the storm
without worshipping the storm.
~ Mark Nepo
Read more Mark Nepo Poems here
You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting -
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.
~ Mary Oliver
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