Clare Shaw, Poet in Residence for the BASPCAN 2018 child protection congress reflects on Yoga, social connection, and safety…

You can find out more about Clare, and read all her congress poems here


Love as a Yoga Class in Bradford


I believe that knowledge is power

I believe that social connection is as vital as food and shelter

I believe that when you bend the front knee and bring the fists down

you feel like a warrior

I believe there’s a lot of bollocks out there


but yoga provides tangible relief

and we breathed and moved and made shapes together

and the women lay there in a line under blankets

and some of them fell asleep.


I believe that what I’m doing has a lineage

at least three thousand years old

I believe that when people breathe together, their hearts synchronise.

It transcends language.

I believe that when you’ve lost everything

to rebuild your life here

along with a house, a visa, safety,

there’s also being so fucking alone

I believe that in none of my training

did anyone talk about love –


I mean, all of these women

who’ve been through horrific stuff

– beyond comprehension horrific –

felt calm enough to lie down, rest,

even safe enough

to fall asleep –


I believe that however shit we’re feeling

connecting to someone we feel safe with

is so unbelievably precious

I believe that when I started going to yoga classes

in a small room on an island in Hong Kong

it changed my experience of life,

it felt like hope


and when I think about what the system does to those women

and all they’ve been through

I’m a she-wolf

and it feels like this gentle fierceness

on their behalf


because I believe that ‘yoga posture’ is a weird word

and I like the word “shape” better

I believe in the neurophysiology of trauma.

I believe that when you stretch

the belly of the muscle begins to pull on the tendons

they release a neuro transmitter that makes that muscle relax

I believe that to be trusted to hold that safety

it’s a total honour.


A group of women under their blankets.

I’ve been thinking, is it okay –

is it weird that this feels like