Poetry and Yoga


On Wednesday morning when I first awoke the moon sat like a shell on my window still. As I got ready and left the house sans hoodie, the sunlight was soft and pale the air chilly. The world was brighter but still harboring that aspect of new day feel when I arrived at the Poetry Center for Poetry Yoga, an innovative new yoga class conceived and taught by Jeanne Osgood, MA. Jeanne is a docent at the Poetry Center and a yoga teacher at Campus Rec. She loves poetry, particularly Emily Dickinson, and has been teaching yoga for over 25 years. Jeanne has been certified in fitness instruction since 1987 and yoga since 1991. In 1995, she received her Master’s in Higher Education and Student Affairs with a focus on the older adult from Bowling Green State University in Ohio. There she worked at the academy village for retired professors for 10 years.  She has worked in the intersection of fitness and academia for two decades.

This class was entirely worth resisting the lures of my bed. Jeanne outdid herself, not only had she brought extra mats and blankets, but she also had chai waiting for us. The chai was hot, delicious, and unexpectedly perfect for the coolness of the morning.  In many ways, this class was typical of a gentle yoga class: we embodied a variety of poses, moved at a slow, measured rate, Jeanne gave us clear instructions and guidance. Yet, this class was unique.

At the beginning of class, Jeanne gave each of us a packet filled with definitions (both poetic and yogic), a series of questions to ruminate on as we held the poses, and a list of poses that we were going to hold, along with the poetry segments that would be repeated and used as mantra in our morning practice. Warm chai inside us, tranquil music playing, we began slowly. First sitting than moving into standing poses and an abbreviated sun salutation, bridge and ending with savasana. As the class progressed, I noticed a rhythm to it: we began on the right side, with Jeanne demonstrating and talking us through each pose. When we shifted to the left and held the pose, instead of offering more instruction, Jeanne played a short recording of Emily Dickinson’s poetry for us to focus on. The segments were short, poignant, and surprisingly zen-like. During our sun salutations we heard, “I’ll tell you how the sun rose, —  A ribbon at a time.” There has never been a better morning ritual.

Jeanne says one of the things she loves about being 60 is she can now focus on her love of teaching rather than administering, “I love it. I love creating new fusion classes, and poetry is a natural fusion—it's word-music and we always mix music with yoga.” Look for her article on Poetry Yoga in the June issue of IDEA Fitness Journal.


Aurora was a student in the Writing Your Community Class last spring. She co-taught poetry to Tucson public school students for the Poetry Center.