August 22, 2012

Water & Fire: Yoga & Poetry. ~ Edith Lazenby

How the elements move me

We often think of water as that embryonic fluid that holds us on all sides. Fire speaks of red chili peppers and that ability to burn, and hurt. Yet water can cause destruction by its mass and fire can work like Shiva, making way for the new.

In my life both forces are strong, with a Pitta nature, balanced by my Vata tendencies that just make me too quick when a bit of earth could ground and comfort. Not that I lack compassion but that becomes part of what I feel without a means to hold in what I could or should.

I find yoga is my water, the soothing way it eases tension out and calm in. I slow down. I breathe with awareness. I go inside in a way that allows me to be. In yoga there are no hurricanes or floods, (unless I count the way teacher trainings can rock my boat.) I have learned to listen to the ebb and flow of feelings. Tides can be strong, waves can be overwhelming but on my surfboard mat I ride when I do fall off, the landing is easy. I may get choked up but I always find my way back to the crest of the wave. The next wave may be smaller or bigger but I never give up. Tenacity, in my book, is a virtue. Tenacity is my staff, or in this realm, sand.

The sands may shift but I always know it is there. It gives me the floor to stand on so I can get back into my seat, into asana that gives me perspective, and is my livelihood and dharma.

Dharma is how I live

My life is informed by choices I make. Trust me, in my 53 years if there was a mistake to be made I made it. The freshness comes in the fact that I keep learning, maybe not the first time or the second or even the third. Eventually I catch on. My husband has next to nothing in common with those that paved the way to allow me the maturity and insight to have a healthy relationship with boundaries with someone who has no need or desire to treat me with anything but respect.

Yoga continues to teach me respect, to honor my faults and to understand their flip side is often my strength. I don’t have many party tricks when it comes to asana. I started doing yoga in 1997, three times a week then. I could barely touch my knees. Yet yoga is so much more than asana. Yoga is like the sun that is always in the sky somewhere, giving life to life. Yoga is not a hurricane. Yoga as water is like a spring rain that may sparkle out a rainbow.

Poetry on the other hand is my moon. Poetry channels the fire that fuels my spirit whereas yoga feeds my heart. Poetry is my first love and I remain faithful. My muse is always near. Poetry is a moment in time. I process what hurts and celebrate its pulse. I don’t write the poem really. The poem leads me. Image and lyric move across a blank page.

I find meaning

I find answers. I usually don’t even know what I am asking and I never know the end until the poem resolves itself. I take my hurt and joy and plant it with tips of my fingers as if digging into tilled soil to place a seed with a faith that the plant will grow, even if I don’t.

But I do grow. The fire of poetry has the power of the moon to pull the ocean and our moods. The fire of poetry settles behind my eye when I am not looking and then when I need to find the light in the shadow or the shadow in the light, I tap away. I go to my muse with tears no one sees. I go to my muse with anger I cannot throw. I go to my muse with joy and love to celebrate grace. I go to my muse to understand.

I do yoga to settle in and to unpack what I settled. Yoga gives me a drishti in life, a focus that always gives me finer tools to create the balance I need.  Yoga lets me share and connect and yoke my heart with my body, my emotions with my mind, myself with my students. Yoga cools me whereas poetry lights me up. They work together, and help me give more to me so I have more to give.

The moon and the waves, the rain and the seed, the sand and the sun, sitting here at my computer, are more real than the carpet under my feet. Truth has layers and levels; mine peel me open a little more, moment-by-moment, asana by asana. My mentor of over 30 years ago said if I lie the poem lies. If there’s no truth there’s no poem. If there’s no revelation then the writing is writing, and self–expression, but it is not poetry.

Yoga manifested for me with asana in the beginning but now is much more. Yoga is how I engage. Yoga is relationship. Yoga gives me what I need to do what I love. Yoga is my heart. If I had no heart to run the show, my spirit would not be mine, as I know it. But any Buddhist knows the idea of self is, well, an idea. I like the idea of having one. I like having a by-line. I like having a body. I like it all. I don’t know much about Tantra but I do know some schools embrace the idea of embracing the whole package, body and mind, heart and spirit, suffering and joy. There is nowhere to go. There is nothing to transcend. We have now. Yoga and poetry keep me in it, every moment.


Edie Lazenby is a full time yoga teacher, trained at City Fitness in Washington, DC, and Willow Street Yoga Center in Silver Spring, Maryland. I have been writing poetry since I was nine years old. Poetry is my first love and yoga continues to feed my heart. I write and teach because I love it. I tell my students: do it because you can. I believe in creating opportunity and in helping. I think faith is the most important gift of life, because when we lose everything else we still have that in our heart. I believe the natural state of being is happiness, or bliss, or ananda. Life is a celebration. Poetry and yoga help me celebrate.

My blog and website: www.edieyoga.wordpress.com


Editor: Kate Bartolotta

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