Last Updated: April 10th, 2019

The following five poems have been excerpted from Soul to Soul: Poems, Prayers, and Stories to End a Yoga Class, a collection of short inspirational poetry and prose pieces compiled, edited and written in part by John Mundahl. 

The Super Bowl Yogi

When I first started yoga
There was a man who came to my class.
He seldom spoke, but he wasn’t unkind.
We would exchange smiles
And set up our yoga mats next to each other.
We were the only men in class.

I was learning the postures, so I liked to watch him.
He was older than me, but limber and strong,
And moved with grace,
Full of joy,
From one posture to the next…
Never straining,
His breath soft and easy,
Drawn out in a natural way,
Smooth and long,
In beautiful rhythm
With his body.
He kept his eyes closed and there was a smile of love
On his face from someplace deep inside him
That I wanted to discover for myself.

So one cold winter day,
I broke the silence between us.
“Charlie,” I asked. “Did you watch the Super Bowl?”
“27-23 Pittsburgh,” he said. “Big Ben had quite a
day.”
That was all he said.
Then he casually walked out the door
Into the frigid Minnesota winter
With no jacket,
No hat,
And no gloves.
Whew! I thought.
I don’t have to give up football!

The Eyes of Rumi

I met a saint at Walmart once.
I was standing in line waiting to check out.
An elderly woman was behind the register.
“You should be home,” I thought,
“Not standing on your feet all day.”
But then I watched her greet everyone:
Man or woman,
Adult or child,
Young or old,
Clean or dirty,
Crabby or kind,
Rushed or patient,
Angry or calm,
Black or white,
Tattoos,
Spiked hair,
Mohawks,
Or bald…
None of it mattered to her.
She truly greeted each person with eyes of love,
Including me.
I never forgot her
And I still see her face
On long days when I need a blessing.

The Cider Stand

Which road was it that I took
Just before the Woodstock winter
When I stumbled half surprised
Upon the hidden cider stand?
Perhaps just off the Jersey Parkway
Or north beyond the Catskills
Driving to someplace I’ve long forgotten.

But tucked within a friendly wood,
On a road leafed with autumn,
Sat the stand with old man close.
He with apple cheeks
Quick to laugh at grumpy pumpkins.

“One cider, please,” I said.
“Hot?”
“Please.”

With two old hands flannelled tight,
He drew a steaming glass of cider.
I drank it sweet among the gourds and Indian corn,
Then turned to thank, but he was busy.

From a glance I sensed he was a happy man,
Wanting nothing more than his cider stand
And health to draw the juice for those who asked.
I felt that like his apples
He had placed his yesterdays into his cider press
And found the juice that streamed forth
Sweet,
Not bitter.

He Thinks He’s Somebody

He thinks because he dunks a basketball
That he’s a special man,
That the world is his to do with as he pleases.

He thinks because he hits a baseball far
That he’s a special man,
That the world is his to do with as he pleases.

He thinks because he hits a golf ball straight
That he’s a special man,
That the world is his to do with as he pleases.

But,
What is the connection
Between
An extraordinary body
And an extraordinary soul?

Nothing.
Less than nothing.
Gandhi weighed 95 pounds
Yet he kicked the British out of India.

Go and see your neighbour.
Have lunch with him.
Get his autograph.
Get his jersey, too.
He mows his lawn each week
And puts his kids to bed on time.

The Corner of Hollywood and Vine

I met a saint once, downtown L.A.,
In a small auditorium where she was giving a talk.
I don’t remember what she said,
Just her eyes as I gave her a flower.
They came from a place foreign to me,
Great peace amid a noisy world.

She took my flower and smiled,
And I knew for one moment
That I was everything to her,
That I was all she saw,
And a tiny candle
Long buried
And forgotten
Deep within
My frozen
Heart,

Lit.

And I knew that I had worth
Just the way I was.

Later that night, when I left the auditorium,
I hugged the first beggar I saw
On the corner of Hollywood and Vine
And I went home happy.
I can still see his confused face.

soul to soulJohn Mundahl, compiler and editor, was a resident at the original Kripalu Yoga Ashram from 1977–1981, the four years of SwamiKripalu’s stay in America. He is currently an author, retired school teacher, returned Peace Corps volunteer, yoga instructor and Ayurvedic healer. He is the author of nine published books.

Reprinted here from Soul to Soul: Poems, Prayers and Stories to End a Yoga Class edited by John Mundahl, by kind permission of Monkfish Book Publishing Company: Rhinebeck, New York.

image: yoga mats via Shutterstock