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Resistance Outside an Ashram

Thoughts lay heavy on the flat leaf,
the yogi lets the fog of morning meander into his mouth.
He brushes away words without minding them.

The ashram is contained on a mountain, the only garden inside,
and the wooden floor of his home holds all his time,
a clean spot, untouched by the cities.

Flexible breath, so supple, surprised,
the exercise of pranayama, the slow inhale of life,
the exhale of toxin, a subtle control of the lungs.

He sits in meditation under the yin, large leaf of protection,
next to the yang, the small dried maple leaf
that crumbles underfoot, disintegrates before anyone is ready.

The yogi sits with these notions, aware of the brewing,
the rain that falls outside the silk walls of the ashram,
the people, ready and waiting for uprising.

He ponders the feelings of the city below, the hate rising like steam,
the kindness pushed to the back of the people’s throats, the plants dying down below.
The path of humans, the path of plants, all tied together in knots.

The dark red cat beside him prefers the rain under a banana leaf; as does he,
sitting cross-legged, the way it bends almost completely,
an umbrella, without breaking.

The people outside are crying and the yogi cannot ignore
their protests, the dark-skinned, the light-skinned, the oppressed, the women
screaming at him, a thousand emotions.

You cannot sit by in meditation while people suffer.
Or is meditation the only action that can save them?
 

Reverse Warrior

I find that pain brings me closer to my God,
and so the reverse of my warrior is an awakening,
knowing how to bear the war.

Pain spreads over my neck,
hands of a Devil warm it,
and I think I am falling into the dark hole again.

The neck is where I hold my fear,
and where lightning cramps hit
with the velocity of bullets.

I lift a bag
I swing a door
I find the beginning of my sentence on the keyboard,

and in those mundane places, the sting comes uninvited,
a swift brand of the brutal side,
the consequences of age and a body that keeps playing the game.

The burn in the back of the vertebrae is only one honest moment,
but a moment we hide from the young, the active, the unknowing,
only one piece of the bad news we hide from our children today.

To keep them in love with life, I suppose.
To let them know the joy of an uninjured tendon,
a muscle that cannot spasm, a breath that cannot fail.

That is when I know pain is a real thing.
I can stand in warrior on my Yoga mat and feel strong
And yet when I reverse it, when the arch is behind me,

I look at the opposite side of the breath.
The unmovable darkness that can cripple you from lightness,
in that pain I move slowly, and yet I am quite alive.

I’ve fallen off the tower…
The breath no longer channels through me,
it chokes in the spine crevices, before I can exhale.

While I fall further into the arch, I know the feeling is real
and that makes me older and kinder, and true to the breath.
One who continues to follow the two-sided path.
 

Child’s Pose

A womb is what I try to make.
This is the union of the spiritual and the physical,
the rounded shoulders and aching lower back.
I fold into myself, and hymns of the breath reach into the mat.

I created this hope room,
tucked between my stomach and my upper thighs.
Not just for me but for my children
and their imagined selves, their children.

If my mind could stay tucked into this structure,
floating like a baby curled within itself,
to ignore the sounds of the streetcar outside the studio window,
and come back to the inner sounds of my mother’s soft stomach.

The child in me laughs at myself,
mimicking a burrowed squirrel,
trying to make sense of all the worry, the broken world,
the countless times the human is left alone to rot.

This could be the spiritual moment, if I let myself stay.
This is the pose I can keep within after I leave.
I can find a thousand reasons to hate the world,
but not at this one inhale, the breath held together at the top of my nose bridge.

As my forehead soaks into my own sweat,
mixed with rubber and the salt lines like battlefields,
I pray for the breath to unite me with the spiritual place.
so I can relax into it finally, in pieces,
the mind-eclipse of the body.

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Neha Hewitt is a poet, mother and civil rights lawyer living in Portland, Oregon. She has been a regular practitioner of Vinyasa Yoga for the past five years. She finds inspiration for her work in meditation, yoga flow and the surrounding beauty of the Pacific Northwest.
image: Joellepearson via Wikimedia Commons (Creative Commons BY-SA)

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