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17 Inspirational Readings and Poems for Your Yoga Class

17 Inspirational Readings and Poems for Your Yoga Class

Quotes, poems, and inspirational readings for yoga classes can help to verbally convey the principles you're trying to bestow during your lesson.

This article will cover 17 inspirational yoga poems and readings that can be incorporated into your classes in order to broaden your students horizons, and support your teaching style. 

Another way to develop your teaching style further is to complete a Level 4 yoga certificate. where you’ll learn how to plan and develop more complex sessions, and develop a greater understanding of philosophical yoga teachings.

Alternatively, you can download our FREE prospectus, to learn more about all the qualifications we have to offer at OriGym.

17 Inspirational Readings and Poems for Your Yoga Class

#1 - Sonnet 29, William Shakespeare

The first of our inspirational poems for your yoga classes is ‘Sonnet 29’, by William Shakespeare, an ideal replacement for an opening chant. 

This recommendation is due to the fact that the sonnet is written in iambic pentameter,  a rhythm created by the words in each line of the poem. 

These are made up of unstressed syllables, followed by stressed syllables, all of which can be comfortably recited in one long exhale.

Yoga poems and quotes that follow this rhythm can stimulate a steady heartbeat through breath control, encouraging students to relax in a similar way to an opening chant. 

We think that this is one of the best yoga poems to inspire students, as Shakespeare’s thinking in this sonnet is similar to advice given by Patanjali in his authoritative Yoga Sutras. 

Here, even though the speaker may be at their nadir (lowest point) they are encouraged to simply think the opposite. In doing so, you are viewing yourself in a more favourable light, which should help to get rid of negative emotions. 

 

#2 - Just for Now - Danna Faulds

When it comes to inspirational readings for yoga teachers, Danna Faulds’ Just For Now can act as the perfect opening for just about any yoga class. 

Some students may enter the studio and be unable to leave their stresses and problems at the door, behaviour which could prohibit them from feeling the full benefits of the yoga session.

This reading encourages those in attendance to embrace this feeling of relaxation, requesting that they sink into peace ‘just for now’.  

But what makes ‘Just For Now’ a perfect example of inspirational readings for yoga teachers, is that it places a great importance on breathing. This encourages attendees to incorporate their breath into their movement, connecting the two to help alleviate stress.

In terms of the overall practice of yoga inspirational readings such as Faulds’ also encourage students to engage with their inner selves. 

The speaker will prompt their students to question ‘who and what you really are’, before encouraging them to embrace whoever that really is. 

To get the full effect, ensure that you read ‘Just For Now’ slowly, allowing time for each line to sink in.

 

Become a Yoga Instructor with OriGym

Enrol in our specalist Level 4 Yoga Instructor courses today! 

#3 - You Begin, Margaret Atwood

‘You Begin’ highlights the anchoring power of our own bodies, amidst a complex world that is described as having ‘more colours than we can see’. 

That’s what makes this one of our favourite yoga class readings, as it emphasises the importance of the body, just as the practice of yoga does.

The line ‘it begins, it ends’ is perfect for Savasana, when students are in the final resting pose, as this is both the end of the class, and the beginning of something new in their post-yoga journey.

Atwood’s words make quite a comforting poem, which is great for leaving students feeling ready to face the world after a yoga session. For that reason, we’d highly recommend reading ‘You Begin’ before the final om. 

Like many of the yoga poems and quotes to feature within this list you should take your time when reading this piece to the class. 

As a qualified yoga instructor, you must reassure your students with your words, talk with tenderness and kindness to really hammer home the point of this poem. 

#4 - Corpse Pose: Savasana, Irene McKinney

Inspirational Readings and Poems for Your Yoga Class

Irene McKinney’s ‘Corpse Pose: Savasana’ is one of five entries in her collection of yoga poems, and offers meaningful insight into the practice, whilst not being afraid to get humours. 

Irene McKinney’s work is an example of the best inspirational readings for yoga teachers to read prior to the ending of the session. 

This is due to the fact that the piece encourages students to relax, and let all of their emotions go whilst holding their final pose of the class. After a hard session of contorting their bodies, this inspirational yoga poem will ease both the mind and body,  before transitioning into the end of class.

However, in many ways McKinney’s words can be transferred out of the yoga class and applied to real life too.

When reading these yoga poems and quotes to your class, be sure to conclude the piece by stressing that regardless of life's difficulties, students should always treat themselves with kindness. 

-

‘You’ve put yourself through everything

You could think of, deliberately,

Though at the time it just seemed to happen.

You’ve pitched and twisted, tripped,

And grimaced. You’ve run after,

And been pursued. You’ve been ugly

And frightened and murderous and dull.

Now you lie on your back with your palms

Turned up and say: I give it up.

Whatever falls out of my hands

Falls out of my hands. My eyelids

Slip down and my mouth falls open.

Whoever cares can go on

Caring, someone will step into place

And take it over, I do not care.

Finally, my back is lying exactly

on the ground, with no kinks.

The loops are all unwound.’

#5 - Surrender, Claudia Cummins

yoga class readings

‘Surrender’ by Claudia Cummins is the perfect example of yoga poems and quotes that can be read at any point before, during, or after the class. 

Instructors who choose to read it at the beginning will encourage students to look inward, in order to decipher what ‘surrendering’ truly means to them as individuals. 

For some, this may apply to their inability to truly unwind and relax. Therefore, by relaying Cummins’ message at the beginning of the class, you’re essentially telling students to embrace the relaxing properties of the practice. 

Your students will then be able to embrace the ‘gifts that arrive unbidden’ and learn to fully appreciate what the class has to offer. 

Likewise, when it comes to yoga readings for classes, the poem ‘Surrender’ can also act as a good closer too. 

By finishing your session with this you’re essentially reminding students to view life as a blessing. The last line in particular should stick with them, as you encourage them to cross the ‘threshold of acceptance and all the way home to contentment and true love’.

-

This blessing wants you to remember the gift of surrender.

It wants you to unclench your fists and soften your mind.

It wants you to let go of your ceaseless, empty struggles

in order to reclaim a cleaner breath and a deeper peace.

This blessing wants you to let life be, just as it is.

It wants you to reshape your vision until you can see

the gifts that arrive unbidden when we simply

relax into what is without holding on to a single thing.

Surrender calls us over, and over, to let go, to relinquish tight control over our lives, to settle in, 

perhaps sometimes even to sink. And it requires faith that, despite the letting go, we are still held in steady arms of life.

This blessing wants you to remember the deep blue relief

that comes when we accept life on its own terms, full and free. It urges you to walk across the threshold of

acceptance and all the way home to contentment and true love.

#6 - Language, Camille T. Dungy

yoga readings for class

This extract from ‘Language’ by Camille T. Dungy is ideal for reading for both Restorative or Yin yoga classes. However, it could realistically be applied to any quiet interval of time, regardless of what type of yoga you specialise in. 

Both beginners and experienced yogis will sometimes struggle with remaining silent during class, a concept which is enforced throughout this reading. 

In ‘Language’ Dungy is encouraging readers to reconsider their perception of silence. Instead of viewing it as an awkward void, they should instead look at it as a comforter, and associate it with other positive aspects of their life.

For example, Dungy draws comparisons between silence and ‘a lover’s voice rising so close it’s your own tongue’. 

In short, these inspirational readings for yoga classes prove that there is power in silence. As a yoga instructor you may choose to follow Dungy’s words with a prolonged quiet time, in order to enforce the poem's teachings. 

-

‘Silence is one part of speech, the war cry

of wind down a mountain pass another.

A stranger’s voice echoing through lonely

valleys, a lover’s voice rising so close

it’s your own tongue: these are keys to cipher,

the way the high hawk’s key unlocks the throat

of the sky and the coyote’s yip knocks

it shut, the way the aspens’ bells conform

to the breeze while the rapid’s drum defines

resistance. Sage speaks with one voice, pinyon

with another.…

#7 - I Sing the Body Electric, Walt Whitman

Walt Whitman’s ‘I Sing the Body Electric’ celebrates every inch of the human body. By incorporating this inspirational reading for yoga classes into your student’s routine, you can encourage a sense of empowerment.

When it comes to yoga readings for classes, Whitman’s views of the human body can be interpreted as “tantric”. This phrase derives from the word tantra, a teaching which sees the body not as an obstacle to enlightenment, but as a gateway. 

This ideology forms a lot of modern yoga teachings, and is something all instructors learn during yoga teacher training courses. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that all students will be aware of this approach. 

Therefore, reading yoga poems and quotes such as ‘I Sing the Body Electric’ will help your students become aware of how their own bodies move during class. A factor which will help to shape every movement and transition throughout the remainder of the session.

The rest of the yoga poem goes on to celebrate the union of body and soul, which is why so many choose to use the reading as a prompt to encourage a state of relaxation.

For this reason, instructors may choose to use this poem during guided meditation, ensuring that students have the opportunity to absorb and reflect upon its teachings. 

#8 - The Guest House, Rumi

If you’re looking for yoga poems to inspire your students, ‘The Guest House’ is a great choice as it encourages readers to embrace their emotions, both the good and the bad. 

‘The Guest House’ in question, is simply a metaphor for the human mind, with the ‘new arrivals’ being our ever-changing emotional state. Some may be ‘unexpected visitors’ creeping up on us when we least expect it, but Rumi’s teachings tell us to welcome them all regardless.  

The yoga poem goes on to explain how every emotion is temporary, and rather than dwell on them for too long, we should simply live in the moment and ‘meet them at the door laughing and invite them in’. 

These yoga readings for teachers and students alike should be incorporated into the beginning of each session, in order to immediately set the tone.

In doing so, you’re essentially telling your students to embrace whatever emotion they’re experiencing at the moment, as much like the asanas they are fleeting. Just as you transition from one pose to another, a new wave of emotion will soon be here.

#9 - Wild Geese, Mary Oliver

If you’re teaching a yoga class for beginners, then ‘Wild Geese’ by Mary Oliver can act as the perfect extract to open with.

What makes Wild Geese one of the most inspirational poems for yoga classes, is that it emphasises the idea that you don’t have to be good at everything, the only thing that matters is trying.

This message will resonate with newcomers who will try many asanas for the first time, and may be nervous with the thought of failure.

Instead, Wild Geese will encourage students to embrace their bodies and existing skill-set, rather than setting unrealistic goals for themselves, that will only result in discontent. 

Instead, the inspirational yoga reading encourages students to learn and grow with each passing session, so it may be worth adapting this as a mantra of sorts that can be repeated in various classes. 

As your students progress throughout their yoga journey they will learn that all that matters is their passion for the subject. 

If these inspirational readings for yoga classes has inspired you to read further into the practice, we’d recommend checking out these other OriGym articles:

 

Become a Yoga Instructor with OriGym

Enrol in our specalist Level 4 Yoga Instructor courses today! 

#10 - The Lake Isle of Innisfree, William Butler Yeats

‘The Lake Isles of Innisfree’ by William Butler Yeats, is the perfect reading to include in classes that are centred around restorative yoga teachings.

In short, Yeats’ words should help clients sink deeper into their poses and promote an overall feeling of peace and relaxation. 

This yoga poem is less about the actual location of Lake Isle of Innisfree, and more about the personification of a ‘happy place’. Before reading this aloud, students should be encouraged to think of somewhere that makes them feel at ease. 

The purpose of this The Lake Isle of Innisfree is to mentally transport the listener from the room, away from all of life's stresses. Much like Yeats, you should encourage the students to think as vividly as possible in order to promote this sense of serenity. 

For this reason, this piece may be most effective when read at the beginning of class. As a result, your clients will find inner peace and will be ready to tackle whatever challenges come their way.

#11 - Though Stones Shall Crumble, Dave Ursillo

yoga inspirational readings

Whilst yoga classes may transpire in a shared space, for the most part they are very much an individualistic practice that are centred around independent growth and self-development. 

‘Though Stones Shall Crumble’ is a poem of empowerment, which encourages students to focus on finding and embracing their inner selves. This sentiment is immediately clarified with the opening line - My life belongs to me. No one else.

Therefore, these inspirational readings for yoga classes can in-turn, promote a feeling of self-confidence and trust in a student’s capabilities. 

Though Stones Shall Crumble is therefore a great way to open a yoga class, as it will immediately set the intention for the session. 

After reading Ursillo’s inspirational poems for yoga classes, each student should consider the line ‘I am here, I am my own, I want what I desire’.  

Ask those in attendance to consider what they really want from the session, as this manifestation will help to shape their overall performance, driving them to be the best yogi they can be. 

-

‘My life belongs to me. No one else.
This spirit within my walls is mine and mine alone.

You cannot have it, Power.
You cannot touch it, Judgement.

This soul is mine and it is free, and I honour it by seeking my freedom and truth,
so long as I am alive.

Don’t get me wrong, stranger.
I want to share what I have—all of me—with you.

But it is important, now and again, to look towards the sky and tell the Gods
“I am here, I am my own, I want what I desire.
Though stones shall crumble, and so too shall flesh,
I mean to indulge life I’ve been given
with joyous, exuberant wanting.’

#12 - The Religion of Love, Ibn Arabi

Many newcomers to the practice of yoga may be unaware of its roots within the Hindu religion. 

Ibn Arabi’s The Religion of Love sheds some light into the practices’ origin, whilst reminding readers that faith and devotion is not dependent on religious affiliation. 

The practice can be spiritual without being religious, and can therefore be used as a vehicle for observing your own core values and discovering your true inner self.

The yoga class readings to feature within ‘The Religion of Love’ will encourage students to consider what they believe in, and how these beliefs bring meaning to their own lives. For this reason, we’d recommend sharing this piece at the beginning of the class.

This will establish that whilst yoga finds its roots in religion, it’s not strictly a religious practice. 

Instead, it stresses the importance of faith and commitment to any practice, allowing the student to fully immerse themselves within the class.

#13 - When in Doubt, Claudia Cummins

yoga poems to inspire

‘When in Doubt’ is a versatile poem that could be read before beginning a sequence, whilst holding a restorative pose, or at the very end of the class.

This is one of the best yoga class readings, as it gives students instructions on how to make the most, and fully immerse themselves in, their yoga session.

It also emphasises how the process of physical relaxation can help you to mentally unwind and let go of any stresses outside of the practice.

When students hear the final line, ‘Remember that everything is going to be alright’, they’ll feel comforted and will therefore leave practice feeling content.

-

‘BREATHE.

Find the waves of the breath, and ride them.

Exhale fully, with a soft sigh of ease and relief.

RELAX.

Soften your shoulders, unclench your firsts.

Release your belly, let tension melt away.

FEEL.

Tune into the raw sensations of the moment.

Let go of the story line. Be present for real life.

TRUST.

Have faith in yourself and the world around you.

Remember that everything is going to be alright.’

#14 - Eternity, William Blake

William Blake’s ‘Eternity’ is one of the shortest inspirational readings for yoga classes on our list, and can therefore fit anywhere during your planned session.

For example, if you’re working with teachings and asanas that are more challenging than your class typically engages with, you can use Eternity to stress the importance of practice.

The ideology behind these inspirational readings for yoga classes is that improvement can only come from practice. Whilst staying in your comfort zone may prompt feelings of safety, it’s only when we challenge ourselves that we truly grow as individuals.

‘Eternity’ also stresses the importance of living in the moment, encouraging your yoga students to find liberation during life’s challenges, rather than letting the little speed bumps bog them down.

By embracing all that life has to offer, the reader can truly experience ‘eternity’s sunrise’. 

#15 - Here and Now, Donna Campbell

yoga class readings

‘Here and Now’ by Donna Campbell is an example of great yoga poems to read aloud whilst your students are holding poses. 

When it comes to yoga class readings ‘Here and Now’ helps to ground readers in the present, requesting that they detach themselves from the past, and refuse to worry about the future.

Your students should use this time as a moment of self-reflection, whilst in the studio their concerns should be non-existent, the only thing they should focus on is their overall performance. 

Campbell’s inspirational readings for yoga teachers and students stresses the importance of breath control at multiple points. By reading this aloud during class you can ensure that your students are connecting their own breathwork with the teachings of the poem.

Students should focus on how they feel in the moment, the inner sensations of their body,  and the ground beneath their feet. In doing so, they rid themselves of the question of ‘what if’ and ensure that self-acceptance ‘begins to flower’. 

-

‘Living in the present moment is

the only way to tame the mind.

For the mind throws us into turmoil,

Thinking of the past and worrying about the future. By noticing our breath,

the inner sensations of the body,

the light around us, the ground beneath

our feet, we begin to find ourselves in the here and now. The question “what if”

ceases to plague our days, and acceptance

begins to flower.’

 

Become a Yoga Instructor with OriGym

Enrol in our specalist Level 4 Yoga Instructor courses today! 

#16 - Mother Teresa

inspirational readings for yoga teachers

We understand that some of the inspirational readings for yoga teachers that have featured on our list may not be suitable for everyone. After all, not everyone connects to spoken word or poetry.

With this in mind, some yoga instructors may be more likely to incorporate inspirational quotes into their daily practice.

The following quote from Mother Teresa can help to summarise everything you have practised in class, encouraging clients to think peacefully and embrace self-love, as they return to their daily lives.

By reading lines such as ‘May you be content with yourself just the way you are’, students should feel a sense of self-comfort, and inspirational freedom to ‘sing, dance, praise, and love’.

This would make a great quote to incorporate into classes centred around self-love. With the teachings stressed by Mother Teresa you can ensure that each and every yogi in attendance feels overcome with inspiration to tackle their daily life. 

-

‘May today there be peace within. May you trust that you are exactly where you are meant to be. May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith in yourself and others. May you use the gifts that you have received, and pass on the love that has been given to you. May you be content with yourself just the way you are. Let this knowledge settle into your bones, and allow your soul the freedom to sing, dance, praise and love. It is there for each and every one of us.’

#17 - Rest in Every Step, Jeff Foster

yoga readings for class

The final entry on our list of inspirational readings for yoga classes is Jeff Foster’s ‘Rest in Every Step’ which can be perfectly incorporated into sessions that strive to declutter the student’s mind. 

The message of the poem is perfectly encapsulated in the first opening lines have patience,
slow down. 

It could be argued that these two lines alone can perfectly apply to the entire practice of yoga. You want all those in attendance to unwind in your class, they should feel that your teachings help to slow down the stresses of everyday life. 

Furthermore, patience is very much a virtue when it comes to yoga. This isn’t something that you can be instantly good at, for this reason it may be worth incorporating Rest in Every Step into beginners classes. 

One line in particular stands out, and that is ‘find the dignity in slowness’. This could be taken up as an unofficial mantra by all those who incorporate these inspirational readings for their yoga classes. 

Yoga as a practice cannot be rushed, each transition and asana should be handled with care, in order to ensure that students feel the true benefits of said pose.

-

Have patience.
Slow down.
The gap between
'Where I am'
and
'Where I want to be'
is full of possibility.
So don't rush through it.
Take time.
Find the dignity in slowness.
Learn to love the gap.
Grace it with your presence.
It is bursting with life, and creativity,
and it holds unexpected treasures.
Have patience. Slow down.
Life is only Now.
In Presence, there are no gaps.
Find rest in every step.

Before You Go!

Regardless of whether you’re teaching a soothing restorative class, or a fast-paced Ashtanga session, these inspirational readings for yoga classes will perfectly accompany your teachings.

Remember, by completing your Level 4 Yoga Teacher Training qualification you can develop a deeper understanding of the practice, and specialise in one of a range of highly sought-after specialisms.

You can also download OriGym’s free course prospectus to learn more about our industry-leading qualifications.

Written by Rebecca Felton

Content Writer & Fitness Enthusiast

Graduating from the University of Liverpool with a first-class degree in English, Rebecca’s combined passions for fitness and writing are what brought her to OriGym. Rebecca is a keen gym-goer and specifically enjoys lifting weights. Outside of fitness and writing, Rebecca enjoys cooking, reading, and watching the football.

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