In his poem, All The Hemispheres, Hafiz captures the ephemeral beauty and elegance of human connection and consciousness.
Sufi poet Hafiz is celebrated for the lyrical and mystical quality of his verse.
Love, Truth, Kindness, Nature, and Totality; all themes Hafiz unpacks in his poetry that arouse a sensory experience and visual provocation within the reader.
His writing is delightful, luscious, and cheeky, leaving room for the reader to see themselves somewhere within the poem.
All The Hemispheres prompts the reader to question their place within the universe. It begs one to look at the limitless capacity of the heart—to roam the world within and all around and discover all the facets of what it means to be alive!
Hafiz’s inclusive and playful prose transcends all boundaries concerning culture, politics, and time. His poetry is simple, approachable, and allows a space for introspection.
The sensitive and pondering quality of his writing allows for his verse to be the perfect accompaniment to a yoga class.
Keep reading to gain a deeper understanding of Hafiz and his work, plus see how to weave poetry into a yoga class with constructive examples and prompts for reflection.
Table of Contents:
Meet Sufi Poet, Hafiz
Born between 1310 and 1325, Shamseddin Mohammad was a Persian poet known by Hafiz or Hafez’s pen name. Some claim that this name was given to him because he had memorized the Quran in 14 ways.
Persian-speaking households have the poetry of Hafiz in their homes, and many of them have memorized his poems and used the verses as proverbs. He was the most loved and influential poet of the century.
Even today, he is regarded as one of the seven literary wonders.
Emerson said about Hafiz that “Hafiz is a poet for poets. He had such a huge impact on the literary world that even Sherlock Holmes quotes his verse.”
Hafiz’s Poetic Style and Influence
Hafiz’s style was lyrical or ghazal, a technique used to express ecstasy in mystical love poems.
He expressed faith, religious hypocrisy, and spiritual romanticism in his poetry. At a very young age, he memorized the work of Saadi, who was his inspiration. After his death, many stories were made about his life. It is said that he learned the Quran by listening to his father recite it.
It is said that he used to work at a bakery while under the mentorship of Hajji Zayn al-attar, his Sufi master. At the bakery, he saw Shak-e-Nabat, a beautiful and wealthy woman. Some say Hafiz’s poems are addressed to her. William Jones translated his work from Persian to English in 1771, inspiring many Western writers like Goethe, Thoreau, and Ralph Waldo Emerson. So great is his influence that Iran celebrated October 12th as Hafiz Day.
The Inspiration of Hafiz in Contemporary Art
Today, Iranian and Afghani music is inspired by his poems. Still, translators and interpreters are not certain about the meaning of his poetry. While some say it is lyrical, others find mysticism in it.
Wheeler Thackston explains this by saying that the poet” sang a rare blend of human and mystic love so balanced… that it is impossible to separate one from the other”.
Today, many people find solace in his words and get mesmerized by the depth of his verses All the Hemispheres is a beautiful poem by Hafiz, translated into English by Daniel Ladinsky.
All The Hemispheres
Leave the familiar for a while.
Let your senses and bodies stretch out
Like a welcomed season
Onto the meadows and shores and hills.
Open up to the Roof.
Make a new water-mark on your excitement
Like a blooming night flower,
Bestow your vital fragrance of happiness
Upon our intimate assembly.
Change rooms in your mind for a day.
All the hemispheres in existence
Lie beside an equator
In your heart.
In your thousand other forms
As you mount the hidden tide and travel
All the hemispheres in heaven
Are sitting around a fire
While stitching themselves together
Into the Great Circle inside of
From: ‘The Subject Tonight is Love’
Translated by Daniel Ladinsky.
Embrace poetry as movement with this fluid vinyasa practice inspired by Hafiz’s poem, All The Hemispheres.
Expect a little bit of everything with twists, hip openers, inversions, backbends, and standing leg balances. This class focuses on the process versus a peak pose.
** This class is for intermediate/advanced practitioners.
If you are new to yoga and want to enjoy poetry by Hafiz while trying a yoga class, Dancing Shiva Vinyasa.
Shaping a Narrative Through Poetry and Yoga
Poetry and yoga tantalize the senses. A poem or vinyasa sequence guides you toward a specific endpoint. It is a narrative you engage with through language—words or your body.
The sensations you experience give rise to the idea. How you engage poetry or yoga postures is distinct. The interpretation depends on individual perception. A poem expresses meaning based on how you interact with the metaphors.
Asanas, yoga postures, are a kind of metaphor as each pose relies on the expertise and experience of the practitioner.
In this way, alignment may be likened to perception; both are unique to the individual as they depend upon many internal and external forces.
How Poetry and Yoga Shape the Experience:
- Offer a metaphor for self-expression.
- Depend wholly on each individual experience.
- Provide a means of interacting with the other.
- Treat the individual to a reflection of Self.
- Delight the senses and create a sensory narrative.
- Allow space for self-reflection and escapism.
For Students: Put the Poem in Your Body
If you’re invested in evolving your understanding of the poetic verse and how language affects how you move, feel, and go about your day-to-day, read or listen to All The Hemispheres by Hafiz.
Questions to consider:
- What line stands out? Why do you think this is?
- What is the metaphor that resonates most profoundly?
- What visual is the most luminous?
- What other sensations does this poem evoke?
Read the poem quietly to yourself. Read it aloud. Read it to a friend or a lover.
See how the poem’s architecture resounds each time you read it silently or to someone. Observe the distinct qualities and how it lands on those you offer it to.
The way you appreciate the words may change over time.
Take the yoga class, then contemplate the questions below.
- How does the poetry influence your experience of the yoga class?
- What does the prosaic language offer to your practice?
- How do you feel during/after class- list a few qualities.
- Do you prefer a philosophical prompt- why or why not?
For Teachers: Theming a Poetic Yoga Class
Yoga is the practice of unifying your body, mind, and breath. Yoga translates, from Sanskrit, as “to yolk”.. It provides a philosophical landscape to establish a foundation for living in harmony with self and others.
Poetry is another tool to encourage students to ask more significant questions and inspire transformation.
Through questions, storytelling, and metaphor, poetry invites the audience to contemplate the world through a different lens. It may also entice students to see a different view of themselves and how they engage the world.
For yoga teachers, selecting a poem may help to anchor the class and add to the theme.
A cohesive theme can bring your students into a deeper state of flow and spontaneous awareness.
In A Welcomed Season, Clara Roberts-Oss reads All The Hemispheres to open the class. She weaves the theme into the postures, sequence, and repetition of words and lines from the verse.
The repeated phrases from the poem can help your students connect to the poem and focus their attention on a specific word or phrase.
Repetition allows the body to absorb the message on a cellular level; the mind learns through retelling and reiteration as you draw the concept into the subconscious mind.
The element of focus becomes rehearsed and may transform into a skill or learned behavior. Repetition also fosters better understanding and confidence as you adapt. In a yoga class, prompting students to poetry throughout the practice adds to the Bhavana (mood) and contributes to the overall experience.
How to craft a poetic theme for your yoga class:
Choose a poem.
Read the poem of your choice at the beginning of the class. If it’s a particularly long poem, you may want to choose one or two stanzas to read. You may also wish to read a significant line to close the practice to bookend your class.
Pull a line or two from the poem to narrow the focus.
For example, Clara works with the lines ‘Greet Yourself // In your thousand other forms.’ These two lines are repeated throughout to invite students to contemplate and receive the verse.
Clara also links the phrase, Greet Yourself, to the breath and encourages students to go deeper into their bodies with every inhale and exhale.
Select poses that compliment the mood of the poem.
Much of Hafiz’s poetry has a smooth, rhythmic, and simple intonation. Some of his verses are playful and cheeky, while others are more contemplative and praise a particular aspect of universal consciousness.
Clara crafted a class sequence with a similar quality in terms of how it flows from pose to pose. There is no peak posture in the sequence. Instead, the series invites the practitioner to dance through the vinyasa with circular arm and leg movements and varied postures that target the entire body.
The poem is fluid, and so is the sequence. There is a similar feeling in the mood of the poetry and the movement.
Qualities of the class that works with the verse:
- Water element.
- Smooth, fluid, circular movements.
- Keeps pace with a flow.
- Dynamic and full-body stretches.
- Process-oriented with no peak pose.
Art as a Means to Inspire Deeper Listening to the Body’s Wisdom
Art is a wonderful instrument to connect to play and appreciate the process over the result!
Poetry and yoga are tools that inspire a profound listening so you can better hear your body’s wisdom. Considering and analyzing data points is helpful to planning and preparing yourself for the long term; however, we gain access to the subconscious mind when we enter a flow state.
A scientific study from 2018 shows a correlation between the individual creativity level and the state of flow.
A flow state occurs when the conscious mind is focused on a task.
A combination of analysis and intuition is an optimal way to address a resolution to a problem or question. What you seek may organically arise through the body’s wisdom. The answers you desire may be revealed through the language of movement, song, or other forms of artistic expression.
How Art Exposes Unrequited Emotions
Yoga moves the Prana (subtle energy) through the body to stimulate the release of accumulated emotional, physical, and mental tensions. Research illustrates how yoga is a tool for emotional regulation and positive coping mechanisms.
Similarly, studies show how therapists use art therapy as a form of self-expression to guide patients into a deeper understanding of how they feel, think, and act.
We interviewed TCM Acupuncturist, Irene Sanchez, to learn more about how energy and emotions are expressed through movement.
Irene is the founder of the AdiShakti Method, TCM practitioner, Doula, and yogi who works with the energy flow to create a healing space for clients to discover a deeper connection to themselves and their bliss bodies.
“In Chinese medicine, you’re working with meridians, which are energetic channels. Each meridian is linked to an emotion. Chi Gong is one form of energy management. Meditation and yoga tap into different energies.” —Irene Sanchez.
In yoga, Nadis are the energetic channels that carry the Prana (energy). Asanas, pranayamas, bandhas, kriyas, and mantras are all effective tools to move stuck or blocked energy and gain more awareness of our bodies and how we feel.
Emotional Feedback Through the Body
We use the available energy in the environment. Then we move forward with clear intent and calmness, carrying our excitement inside with an awareness of its preciousness as a transformative force. — Dr. Keema Shield.
Dr. Keema Shield is an Acupuncturist specializing in gut and metabolic health, female hormones, and improving sleep. In her lecture, Cultivating Your Life Force, Keema summarizes how to use nature to align with time to discover the right foods, activities, and rhythms your body needs to flow easily.
Keema’s belief and primary goal is to help restore the body so it can do the healing it is capable of for individuals to live holistic, healthy lives. Her lecture outlines the practices to direct the body’s energy, including yoga, acupuncture, food, and sleep. She also goes into the organs associated with specific emotions and how to optimize your cycle to be right with time.
The aim of yoga and other holistic practices is to observe sensations and assess where and how to direct an emotion.
Chinese and Japanese medicine are alike in that they assess the body’s feedback through the organs and meridians to assess the health or disease of an individual.
Acupuncture defines points in the body to stimulate healing.
Japanese acupuncturist, Alix Jean, shared how she uses Hara Diagnosis to feel for blockages in the body’s response. Hara Diagnosis is palpitations at the abdomen to feel for a potential misalignment.
Hara is listening to our guts. Your body will give you little signs from the subconscious you may or may not be aware of.
The practice of Japanese acupuncture is more tactile. A lot of traditional Chinese medicine acupuncturists will pop the pins in and leave the room and wait. With Japanese acupuncture, I’m in the room the whole time assessing based on the abdomen and Hara.
When anxious or overexcited, the body shifts into fight or flight mode and the release of stress hormones inhibits you from making embodied decisions.
It is easier to feel for the answers and make decisions that are consciously guided by intuition when you are in a state of groundedness and calm.
Yoga and poetry provide a conducive environment for self-discovery by releasing emotional, physical, and mental stressors that inhibit you from listening to your body’s wisdom.
Why You Want to Treat Yourself to Poetry:
Theme your class around philosophy and movement.
Contextualize an experience through metaphor.
Provide aspirational ideas with sensory language.
Provoke practitioners to ask more significant questions.
Invite students to create and interact with art.
If you’re an aspiring yoga teacher, these classes capture how to create a unified theme and offer a mix of varied styles, levels, peak postures, music, focus, and prose.