The definition of poetry is; writing that formulates a concentrated imaginative awareness of experience in language chosen and arranged to create a specific emotional response through meaning, sound, and rhythm.
When we step onto our yoga mats, we experience a chosen and arranged sequence that allows us to create a flow of energy and a deeper state of relaxed awareness. Whether it’s during a heated power sequence or a soothing Savasana, both yoga and poetry encourage introspection and awareness.
Kathleen Kraft, one of our Surya’s yoga instructors, is also a poet and recently published a book of poetry, “Fairview Road”.
How long have you been writing poetry?
KK: In earnest, I have been writing poems since 2008, but I have writing poetry since I was a teenager. In 2008, my father passed away suddenly, which spurred me to write with an urgency I hadn't experienced until then.
Does your poetry help or influence your yoga practice at all?
KK: I think it does indirectly. I teach my students to feel the pose, to experience and personalize it for themselves. I ask them to reflect on what certain poses mean to them, particularly warriors because they are so resonant and empowering. Another teacher I know well recently told me I have a strong handle on how to arc a class--when to go strong and when to ease off; I have to attribute this to having a sense of rhythm, rise and fall, and overall narrative structure. There are so many connections between art-making and yoga.
How do you decide what you’re going to write about in a new poem?
KK: Most of my poems come from personal experience. It could be nature, personal struggle, joy, relationships, and so on. Here is a sampling of my work that highlights my personal interests.
Have any of your poems ever been inspired by a yoga class, pose or sequence?
KK: Yes! Here's one on Downward Facing Dog:
Here I am again in my dog, upside down,
igniting energetic sense,
understanding the children who sometimes bark in the pose.
Here I am—late-blossomed yogi, finding the body’s levers, so many rough transitions.
I lunge forward and come back, pressing down and up, breathing in and out,
rolling forward into length and strength, planking smoothly to the ground
and up again to the inversion, suspension of wants—we are held—
here I am, in the V of life, quietly barking.
Have you ever started or ended a class with a poem reading?
KK: Yes, I recently read some selections from "The Radiance Sutras," which has many short poetic pieces. These are ancient texts, but the translation is recent so they have a contemporary feel. In short, they are gorgeous. My students loved them - it helped them relax, particularly in Savasana. I haven't yet read one of my poems, but I’m considering it.
What advice would you give a Surya Yogi who might be interested in writing poetry?
KK: Write. Sit down with paper and pen (or pencil) and scribble. Try hard NOT to judge your writing as you write. Breathe into it as you would a pose. Read poetry you like. Read poetry you don't like. Most importantly, read your poems and others out loud. Listen to the words... the texture.
For more information about Kathleen’s poetry and where to find her book, visit
- Lindsay Carlton