Yoga Healing Love
Poem Blessings for a Peaceful Mind and Happy Heart
by Tammy Stone Takahashi
These are ideal poems and reflections to read aloud in a yoga class or use in a wellness course or workshop, and will find a cozy home on your bedside table, offering words of inspiration before bed or at the beginning of a beautiful new day.
Yoga Healing Love: Poem Blessings for a Peaceful Mind and Happy Heart is a book of poem affirmations, prose and stories inspired by the ancient system of yoga’s quest for harmony with the universal and sublime forces of life. The perfect companion for new and experienced yoga practitioners, this book is also — and especially — for anyone looking to deepen their loving relationship with themselves.
Yoga Healing Love contains:
☀️ 7 poems to enrich the experience of each of the body’s main energy centers;
☀️ 108 poem affirmations that can be read in any order;
☀️ 3 meditations;
☀️ and 3 short stories lovingly crafted for children (and our dear children within!).
We all want to be happy and at peace, and in this sense, we are all yogis: we are all walking this path together.
Tammy Stone Takahashi
I am a lover of journeys, within and without. I’m a mystic poet who writes poems daily as part of my spiritual practice, and a featured writer of articles mostly themed on wellness. Writing is one of my most sacred ways of both trying to understand the world around me, and my own place in the world, and I write in many forms: poems, verse, short stories, short and long-form fiction and memoir. Whenever and however the words flow, I try to let them! But flow starts with the body, without which we couldn’t do anything at all.
I’m a certified yoga teacher and Reiki master and I love taking long walks with no destination at all, bare feet when I can. My coaching services include story consulting and editing, and using meditation, yoga, journaling and other forms of creative expression as a path toward healing, growth and empowerment.
When I’m not communing with trees, dreaming of beautiful tomorrows, taking photographs or sewing cloth paintings, I am back again with words, working on a memoir and a novel. My published poetry collections are Formation: Along the Ganges and Back Again (2015), Little Poems for Big Seasons (2016), and LAND (2018).
I’d love to hear from you!
Excerpt from Yoga Healing Love
“The rhythm of the body, the melody of the mind and the harmony of the soul create the symphony of life.”
In my personal experience, this symphony of life beautifully pointed to by one of yoga’s great masters, B.K.S. Iyengar, is not always easy or natural to awaken to. Everything from our ordinary and intimate daily routines to our experience of the greater world out there can be riddled with sources of tension, stress, conflict and fear, despite our greatest hopes for peace and harmony. I remember feeling acutely aware of–and surprised by–just how unbalanced I felt when I first stepped onto a yoga mat what seems like a lifetime ago–many, many moons before now, in any case!
I’d actually been introduced to yoga sometime before then, during a very hectic time: I was pursuing my PhD (I was studying the role observation plays in our daily lives, a potentially yogic topic, though I can’t say I was aware of this), and I’d also begun working a full-time job in the world of film festivals and programming. I loved these pursuits, as well as living in the bustling, multicultural city of Toronto, but I also found myself feeling drained a lot of the time. It was a physical sense of fatigue (I struggled with headaches and insomnia) and, even more so, an emotional and a psychological one. It was also, looking back, very much a spiritual exhaustion, though I would have been very hesitant about using that word at the time.
I can remember two distinct events from that time that stand out as beacons of my journey to come. One was a friend of mine giving me a VHS tape of a 20-minute power yoga video. He was purging his closet and tossed the tape to me saying, “I thought you might like this.” We’d never talked about yoga, much less broached the idea of me engaging in a practice of any sort, but I welcomed the thoughtful gift and gave it a try later that night. I stumbled, fell, cursed, and simply couldn’t believe how hard it was to achieve balance in the body I’d been carrying around with me my whole life in a fairly functional way. How fragile we are, I marveled when I calmed down, how easy to topple over, and how dependent on our customary, conditioned ways of standing, let alone thinking and being. I did this tape, and found a couple of others, and continued to do these on and off for a few months, before my life turned upside down.
Around this time, I also met with another fascinating experience when my ex-boyfriend, with whom I was still close, told me that he’d been encouraged to try Reiki and that he thought I’d really enjoy it. I listened, and booked an appointment. Before the treatment even began, I loved being in the presence of this practitioner. She told me she could see that I was utterly depleted. She asked me if I drank coffee and when I said I did, she said I really didn’t need to, that my energy was extremely bright and powerful and that coffee would only step in the way of that, despite my current state of feeling emptied out.
And was I ever emptied out! I had just turned 35, an age of extreme significance to me. When I was around 20, a group of friends and I had sat around trying to figure out what each of our “soul ages” were–the ages we felt we had always been deep down. We decided mine was 35, and I always imagined this would be a time I’d feel satisfied and deeply fulfilled in all areas of my life. This was not how things were turning out, though. I had a decent job that was slowly starting to feel like a mess, in no small part due to my confusion over ending up in a career I loved but had never truly chosen. Despite having beautiful and close friendships, I was in a string of unhealthy relationships with unavailable men, and there was an overwhelming feeling that I was missing the mark somehow, that my life purpose was eluding me.
Seeds had been planted, though, like the ones I’ve just described, and also during the long periods of time I’d spent traveling and living in Southeast Asia (I lived there for a year in 2001, and went back many times after that). When I finally lost my job, I knew the time had come to put a decisive halt to my current life. I got rid of my apartment, dumped my things in my parents’ basement (thank you mom and dad!) and booked a one-way flight to Thailand. And here is where my journey with yoga and Reiki began in earnest, like they had been waiting for me all along.
Studying with brilliant, wonderful teachers Pancho and Beatrix at the Nong Khai Yoga, Reiki, Therapy and Astrology Center in Thailand, I delved not only into the physical, or asana portion of yoga, but the philosophical and spiritual aspects of it as well. They taught me with such profundity that yoga is not just a series of physical movements, but a true path to awakening that can take many forms. I immediately gravitated toward this approach that integrated breath and movement with the notions of striving for balance and union within myself and with the greater universe. I realized that I didn’t need to conceptually understand everything about how the cosmos operated, but that I could trust good and true teachers, and also have faith in my own ability to let go of beliefs and conditioned patterns of thinking, and just give myself over to the process of becoming. It felt like being an infant taking her first steps, yet I was armed with an adult’s awareness that these steps were going to guide me to a more holistic way of feeling and being in the world. Having faith, in others, in the process of healing, and in the universe itself, I discovered, brings untold blessings in as many forms as we’ll allow ourselves to experience.
I’ve written the poems in this book in part as a gift of gratitude to my teachers and to the ancient wisdom of yoga itself for the innumerable gifts it has brought to my life as I’ve slowly learned to open my psyche and allow for healing to occur, and for love to pour in and to flood out. I’ve watched with wonder as my poetry has transformed along with my awareness that writing is an intrinsic part of my spiritual path. It is my great wish to offer the poems in this collection as a reflection of my love for and appreciation of this path, and as a contribution to the vast array of beautiful poetry in the world celebrating the mystical and magical union that exists between all people, all sentient beings, and between all beings and the bountiful nature from which we arise, and of which we are an inextricable part. As such, these poems, while an enriching companion for any student of the path of yoga seeking empowerment, embodiment and divine union, are meant for everyone: I believe that yoga lives inside all of us, ready to revitalize the spirit, and can be aided by the unique power of poetry to move us beyond the realm of the intellect, where the heart resides.
The hand that writes poems, as I see it, is an extension of a yearning, seeking, hopeful and loving heart seeking to express the ineffable and inexpressible, as best as it can. Poetry has been an important and sacred part of my yogic and spiritual path, and it delights me to bring poetry and yoga together into a collection like this that is at its heart designed for self-reflection, self-awareness and self-care with an eye toward transcending the self and moving toward unity–with all beings, and the source of all things. Ultimately, our journey of enlightenment begins with the “I” and moves toward the “we”. This is what yoga is all about!
The book begins with seven poems for each of the main chakras, or “wheels” in Sanskrit. In yoga, Reiki, meditation and the ancient Indian healing system of Ayurveda, the chakras are known as energy centres located at different points in the body where matter meets with different bodies or levels of consciousness, with the seven major chakras found along the body’s central meridian, from the very base of the spine to the crown of the head. These seven chakras–from the bottom up muladhara (root chakra), svadisthana (navel chakra), manipura (solar plexus chakra), anahata (heart chakra), vishuddhi (throat chakra), ajna (third eye chakra) and sahasrara (crown chakra)–relate to or correspond with different physical, mental, emotional and spiritual aspects of being. My intention with these poems is to call attention to the special qualities of each chakra in a way that can inspire awareness in readers wishing to spend time engaging with these energy centers in a deeper way.
The rest of the book consists of 108 poem-blessings that are also designed to nourish, nurture and complement a yoga or meditative practice on and off the mat. They can be read during savasana (corpse pose, or the resting position at the end of a yoga practice), during the mindful resting portion at the end of a yoga asana practice when the body is ripe for absorption and integration, or prior to meditation, to simply set a peaceful and inspired tone for the day or for sleep. They can be read in any order, at any time of day; my intention is for each poem to serve as a ray of sunshine, or perhaps as a moonbeam, helping you open the doors to your beautiful inner wisdom. Every poem in the book is written in the first person, so that whether you are reading the poems quietly in your head, or out loud, they can have the effect of a personal meditation and affirmation. This is not meant to cocoon the reader within the shell of the “I”, but rather, to further connect each “I”–each person reading them–to the greater One, in which we are all a beautiful part. There is so much we can accomplish together, in unity.
The poems also offer anyone looking to explore different layers of meaning in their lives a means of tapping into their sense of gratitude, mindfulness and awakening.
108 is a deeply spiritual and mystical number, known to represent spiritual completion in various Eastern religions and practices. There are thought to be 108 forms of meditation, and in Buddhism, there are 108 earthly desires and obstacles to the path of enlightenment, so that when you use mala or prayer beads, which have 108 beads, and pass your fingers over each bead, you are purifying by removing an obstacle to your awakening. In the yogic system, there are 108 nadis, or energy lines that converge at the heart chakra, the center of our loving existence, where our true intelligence resides.
In Hinduism, each of the deities has 108 names, which inspired the naming of the poems in this book. Lord Shiva, as the deity Yogeshwar, is the Lord of Yoga, reigning over all aspects of the practice, including physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. He represents the energy, or prana, which cannot die and which ignites all beings, and rules the realms of meditation, the ascension of power, and transcendence. Shiva, then, is the guru of yoga, through which we come in touch with the guru within, much like how in Buddhism, we are seeking to understand and embrace our own inner Buddha nature. I would love to imagine that as you read the poems of this book, you might allow yourself the luxury of lingering over the beautiful names of Shiva, each of which is already a beautiful little prayer to delight the tongue, ear and heart, as you absorb this deity’s innumerable cherished qualities as parts of your own nature. I’ve added an Appendix to the end of the book listing the 108 attributes of Shiva so that you can even more powerfully come into connection with these divine, yet human qualities.
The magic of 108 goes on! 108 is also the number you multiply the Sun’s diameter by to get the average distance between the Sun and the Earth; and the average distance between the Earth and the Moon is 108 times greater than the Moon’s diameter–two little kernels of knowledge I absolutely love! The Sun and Moon are deeply significant in the yoga practice–the “ha” in hatha yoga means Sun in Sanskrit and “tha” means Moon. These respectively represent the yang and the yin, the opposition and ultimate union of masculine and feminine, power and gentility, action and intuition, grounded and spiritual pursuits.
In the yogic tradition, it is widely understood that every being strives to find a balance between these opposing energies. We work, through our yoga practice, to embrace the masculine and female energies within us, and transcend our notions of conflict and duality to come to a place of balance, oneness and union with whatever conception of the divine is meaningful, useful and productive for us. We do not achieve this union by ignoring our history, or any of the obstacles we will inevitably confront on our path. Instead, we learn to be mindful and aware of what makes us who we are, as we work to smooth the edges of our existence, face our challenges with love and equanimity, and find peace with and acceptance for the beautiful and unique beings that we are. With peace and acceptance comes the possibility for a true, grounded, unconditional love, and a compassion that can bring us infinite happiness and do no less than save the world.
May the poems and blessings in this book–and the three bonus stories for children and the children within–bring joy and be of benefit to you in your journey of discovery and growth.