Desert Yoga

I’ve always wanted to be one of these people who is passionate about yoga.  One of these people who is sleek and serene, and who look great in yoga pants.  But the classes I’ve tried have always been just so serious.  Unfortunately, allowing down dog to reduce you to a fit of giggles tends to be frowned on.

However, yoga at Cafe Tissardmine in the heart of the desert in Morocco, changed my mind.  There for a writers’ retreat and workshops, run by the amazing Jan Cornwall, one of my fellow writers was a yoga instructor called Ilka Schroeder. Ilka managed to make yoga both fun and profound. She called the different poses names like ‘happy cow’ and ‘angry cat’, and encouraged us to hiss like cobras and buzz like bees.  Noisy yoga where we were encouraged to laugh!

Berber Tent

The worst part of sunrise yoga were the flies. Great hordes of them descended on us as we were camels or became trees in the cold morning air. It’s hard to be either serene or focused when they are crawling over your face and exposed skin. Note to self: don’t go back to Morocco just after the date harvest.

However, one evening, we did sunset yoga, on top of one of the towers at Tissardmine. As the sun set and the stars rose I felt a profound connection with the desert and all my experiences. We had recently lost someone important in our family, and somehow doing yoga as the sun set over the desert brought it all into focus.   I felt a sense of healing and acceptance.  I hadn’t written poetry for many years, but wrote the following which seemed to express the strong feelings I experienced at the time, as well as some of the images from my trip.


Desert Yoga
A bird sings a song of lamentation
To the ending of the day.
Prana flows on the warm scented wind
And we are held in the arms of the dying sun,
Saluting the falling of the light.
Heart chakras fill with the birdsong
As whispered clouds tumble
Like wind-blown turbans
Streaming scarlet, indigo, saffron:
An apothecary’s palette
Of healing.
Night and the stars race to cover
The naked sky
On magic carpets.
We become the tree,
Strong and grounded like the date palms
By the well.
Then, like the exuberant dog,
We stretch wide our limbs
And bow our heads.
We are baby cobras,
Lying close to the warm earth.
Then a happy cow, and
An angry cat.
We arch into camels,
Smiles on our foreheads.
As warriors, we are strong,
Loyal and noble.
We become boats in the desert,
In complete balance
Between action and dispassion.
Opening, we reach and stretch
Like flowers to the sky,
To embrace.
Then folding, like origami birds,
We hold our hearts close.
We breathe.
We breathe.
A sweeter song lifts
To the violet sky:
Lokah samasta sukina bavanta
‘May all beings everywhere be happy and free’
And I realise
That I am.
Shanti shanti shanti

Desert Yoga, Cafe Tissardmine, Morocco

Café Tissardmine
November 2014


One Comment Add yours

  1. Thanks for the beautiful poem, Ailsa, and for sharing xx


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