For many years I have enjoyed doing yoga. I like to feel my feet on the ground,and the breath in my body. This summer I have really been savoring my yoga classes so I decided to revisit Twist:Yoga Poems , a book by Janet Wong that I illustrated several years ago. Here are a few of the pictures with Janet’s poems.                                                                                                                                                                    


Crow depends on his elbows.

You cannot always fly.

You need somewhere to rest

the weight of yourself.


Trees watch.

This is why

they grow tall,

this is why they bend and sway,

so they can see around a house,

over a hill,

beyond a fire.

Look, not just on a windy day.

See how they move.

At the tip of each branch

there is an eye.


A warrior

takes his stand,

feet planted sturdy and strong.

Before long, he sees

he is heading the wrong way.

He turns and

takes his stand,

feet planted sturdy and strong.


I looked at many Indian miniatures while I was working on the book. I was inspired by the colors, the patterns, the delicacy of the painting and the way the space was divided.  (An interesting fact I learned is that the beautiful yellow paint was made by feeding mango leaves to the cows then collecting, drying and grinding the cow urine into pigment.)

In yoga class I always felt like a phony when I used sanskrit words like drishti or namaste. But this summer a teacher explained that when you use the foreign words it slows you down and you can understand the meaning in a different and more thoughtful way. That makes sense to me. In that same way I am always trying to understand the art that inspires me and to look at it closely; the act of translation helps me twist and stretch. I want to use foreign words or imagery but still speak my own language.


10 responses to “Twist

  1. Julie, I love your illustrations and the poetry is beautiful. I discovered “Summer Birds” recently – a great story about a strong, smart young woman. The butterflies are lovely!

  2. Julie, thanks for showing us the Indian images as well as your own–lovely to see part of the heritage of your work. That yellow was tough to make–what a process! Lovely insight about the words in a foreign language–the different perspectives are evident in your illustrations for Pablo Neruda as you blend the English and Spanish words into each powerful image.

  3. Incredible art to accompany lovely poetry. You two are the dynamic duo for sure!

  4. The pairing of your illustrations with these delightful poems embraces the art of yoga practice. The warmth of colors and images of your work somehow readily flow with the beautiful Indian paintings. The spatial explanation was helpful to me. Good to know your artistic influences for breathtaking work!

  5. Thank you for this post, Julie. I am always tickled by your mango leaf/cow urine research–and when I share that fact with kids, they (of course) LOVE it!!

  6. beautiful!
    I love the way the space is divided

  7. Beautiful, Julie and Janet! I have long loved this book and continue to use it with students.

  8. Wonderful to see the Twist poems and paintings., especially as I am nursing a back spasm & yearning for a good yoga class. One day at a time.

  9. Wow, this is so beautiful and thoughtful. Yoga is such an important part of my learning and life. I love how you integrate art, yoga and “the process”. Thanks for sharing!

  10. LOVE this!!! Thanks for sharing!

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