Mindful Body and Spirit: Yoga and Prayer
As Heraclitus once said, “No man ever steps in the same river twice,” my same body comes to the yoga mat differently every day I practice. I respect and notice the differences. I appreciate the body I bring to the mat and all that it carries within it for a lifetime: heart, soul, intention.
Something may be tighter today: a hamstring, a tendon around the ankle, or perhaps something curling under my left shoulder blade. I bring them all to the mat, just as they are; just as I bring myself to God in prayer. I present it all as it is, my: anger, resentment, worry, smallness, and simple gratitude.
My physical sense of balance seems to build like quiet building blocks through time, just as my strength and reliance on God also rebuilds my spirit.
Perhaps my work is found in a single, simple stretch that day or a purposeful concentration of a specific yearning before God. I obey my body and spirit’s call to stay there listening, untightening, unwinding, and unfurling. I listen to the tensions of what is and what I want it to be; I feel the burn of muscle and ache of heart. I welcome the pulse of breathing, the pounding of my heart, and the process of transformation.
Something shifts inside of me, and I know I am “done”. I roll up the yoga mat. In the same way, when I sense the peace of God over my concerns, I know He has them fully in His hand and I can resume my day.
I am a changed person little by little, moment by moment.
Years ago, I was particularly lucky to pick up Patricia Walden’s Yoga For Flexibility instructional DVD when I first begun practicing. Although this DVD is older in its origins (2007) and slow-paced, Patricia Walden has an incredible way of describing the intricate articulation of each pose. So profitable were her explanations, I still carry lessons I learned from her years ago into my current practice.
This is not necessarily for beginners, but a deep knowledge of yoga a beginner can really sink their teeth in. If you want to know how to practice the positions correctly and be challenged, over and over again, this is the DVD to get.
The best thing a friend told me, when I was uncertain of where to pick the Bible back up again and start reading was: “Just start reading in Psalms”. This was such a breath of relief as it narrowed down the big book into something smaller that I could dip my toes into.
The Psalmists have an uncanny way of showing how human they were as they reveal to God, in these ancient writings, the whole range of their emotions. Some of these more awkward feelings (shame, anger, bitter sadness) we, modern folk, often feel ashamed to express to God, as if He doesn’t want to hear it or it will somehow make Him angry. But, He listens to the humble in heart and the pages of Psalms encourages me to reach out to God and express myself in prayer just as I am.
Download the Bible app for free on your phone. I love this on-the-go but also enjoy the commentary included in a good study Bible.
*This looks like an updated version of the one I have; love the index tabs: NIV Zondervan Study Bible, Bonded Leather, Burgundy, Indexed: Built on the Truth of Scripture and Centered on the Gospel Message