I’ve been practicing yoga since 2007, when the demands of a growing church were stressful. We were in a building planning process at Trinity UMC, Blythewood, and good minds were involved. But it was arduous. I needed something to help me not only in the pulpit, but also in the saddle, where my body wasn’t listening to my brain.
I did my first class, and the next morning woke up feeling like a million bucks. I was hooked. Eventually I learned that practicing yoga didn’t just transform my muscles, but it transformed my mind and spirit.
Yoga teaches strength. When you are in a one-legged, downward dog, with one leg high to the sky, you find strength. If you don’t, you fall on your face, literally and figuratively. These days, we all need more strength. Living in a divided country, with a pandemic, is sapping our strength, but God can strengthen us. “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” Psalm 46
Yoga teaches flexibility. This one is hard for me. I like structure, plans, and routines. After all, I’m a Methodist, and we follow “The Book of Discipline.” Yet, when I’m in forward fold and lay my head all the way on the mat, there is a letting go, a release. In the documentary about famous horse trainer Buck Brannaman, there is a line, “Blessed are the flexible, for they shall not be bent out of shape.” One of my yoga teachers says, “What doesn’t bend, breaks.” These days, we all need more flexibility, more letting go and letting God.
Yoga teaches balance. Standing on one leg, arms stretched to the sky, I was doing tree pose in an outdoor class at Lake Junaluska, and a bird pooped on my arm! I must have truly looked like a tree. Life can easily knock us off-balance. The literal meaning of the Sanskrit word “yoga” is yoke or unite. Yoga fosters unity and balance in mind, body, spirit, and promotes unity with God and others. These days, we all need more balance and unity. “…..lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” Ephesians 4:3
Yoga teaches stillness. I rarely sit still. Even at work, I have a stand-up desk with a yoga mat underneath. I swim, ride horses, and do yoga – about 6 days a week. At the end of yoga class is Shavasana, corpse pose. You lay completely still, arms and legs outstretched. The lights are dim and the room is silent. You melt into the mat and breathe. Finding stillness and silence on the mat helps me find stillness and silence in the noisy world. These days, we all need more stillness and silence. Turn off the news. Silence your phone. “Be still, and know that I am God!” Psalm 46:10
Namaste, the light in me honors the light in you,