Sara Letourneau


Learning to Be


My yoga teacher lights her candles,
one for every chakra color.
I watch them from my mat as I do
every Monday night, sitting lotus but not yet still.
Work was a machine again today, and though my body
left the office whole, my mind is still scattered
like beads from a broken bracelet, and the rest of me
trembles in its rush to collect them.

She invites us now to start with Anjali Mudra –
hands pressed together over heart –
and set an intention. My fingertips shudder
like lightning, and my breath shallows, but I try:
I want to be calm. I want to be at peace.

And then we move, from tabletop to cat-cow,
downward dog to forward fold.
At first my balance wavers, the whispers in my head
taunt and heckle, and I fall behind.
Should I look up to watch my teacher,
try to mimic how she glides from pose to pose
like a cloud shifting shape overhead
even though I will only fail?  

No. I have to trust this body.
It’s the only one I’ll ever have.

I rise to Warrior II. My posture, I know,
is stooped, my shoulders so high that they almost
touch my ears. But I recognize,
exhale, and adjust, and soon enough
the roots in my feet grow deeper, my arms
lengthen into branches, and for the first time tonight
my abdomen, not my mind, is my center,
firm and engaged like the tree trunk it should be.

Gradually, every motion becomes instinct.
Every waking of my back, every twist of my torso,
every lift of my legs and opening of my chest
brings me back to Earth yet sweeps me skyward
until I am no longer a woman mired in anxiety,
but a cobra, a dolphin, an eagle, a sphinx.

Until I lie down for savasana, and there I find the truth:
I am calm, I am at peace, not because I want to be,
but because I choose to be.





Sara Letourneau is a poet and freelance editor / writing coach who lives in Massachusetts. In addition to her poem “Elegy” in Soul-Lit’s Summer 2013 issue, her poems have previously appeared in Amethyst Review, Muddy River Poetry Review, Canary, The Eunoia Review, and elsewhere. To learn more about her editing and coaching offerings, visit Heart of the Story Editorial & Coaching Services at You can also visit her writer website at