Yoga and Jesus

Usually I can’t listen to music while I write. It ends up taking too long for me to focus because I’ll want to sing along (usually singing harmonies to pretend that I’m a backup for my favorite artists) or seat-dance – which looks like a whole lot of shoulder movement for me. It’s hard to dance and type at the same time, so I usually have to forego one or the other.

“Give Me Back My Girl” by Fiction Family is my jam right now. I’m quickly losing focus though, and that’s kind of what I wanted to blog about, so I suppose I should press pause.

Pause. It’s not a word that we actualize much, is it? We don’t pause much. We have texting so that our communication doesn’t have to pause even if we can’t speak to each other with vocal chords. Everything is automated so that we can multi-task. We speed up, not slow down. Slowing or stopping is weakness. When I watch Smallville with my parents (shoutout, Benny J! we’re on season 8!), everybody sighs when I have to pause it to use the bathroom.

This is why I need yoga. I can’t do anything while I do yoga. I can’t use my phone or even really talk while I do it. Kickboxing? Oh yeah, I can text and kickbox at the same time. I’ve been known to blog from the stationary bike. I listen to music and overthink a tornado in my cranium while I run – which isn’t very often, as you well know. But I can’t multi-task if I’m going to do yoga right. I have to focus on my ‘victorious breathing’ (hey, I don’t name the stuff) and body alignment and make sure that I don’t fall over. Sometimes the instructor even makes me close my eyes.

It’s good for me to take time to do yoga, because a) I think it’s started to develop some arm muscle where there was previously nothing. This is good. b) I’m seeing so many parallels between yoga and my walk with Jesus. c) achilles tendonitis, say hello to Downward Dog (again, I don’t name them. they might be worse if I did).

Disclaimer: I don’t do weird yoga. If they ask me to breathe into my spleen, I tune out and never come back. If they tell me to look inside and see all the goodness in me, I pray and thank God that He is the reason there is any. If they say to empty out my mind, I let go of my worries and tell Jesus to catch them and show me what to do. Yoga, for me, must be holy, otherwise there isn’t much point. I attend a Holy Yoga class with some friends every Thursday that incorporates this more intentionally into the practice. So, there you go.

In yoga, you aren’t doing a whole lot of aerobic exercise. It’s definitely not easy, especially when you get to more advanced poses, but there isn’t as much panting and sweating as there would be at a spinning class. Yoga is about breath, stretching, and strength. They ask you to put your body into positions that you wouldn’t ever get to in your normal life.

example: crow. this is the one I’m in the process of conquering. that is not me.

You don’t conquer this the first time. You just don’t. It’s a stretch to get your knees on the sides of your upper arms. Your wrists hurt, and you fall over sometimes. After weeks of attempts, the longest I’ve been able to hold it is 8 seconds. (yes, I counted)

Yoga asks you to try. it says, This is a hard pose, but you’ll never get it if you don’t start attempting. Trust your body, trust your preparation. Lift up one foot, then the other. You’ll get a little farther this time than you did before. It accepts you as you are but invites you into something more challenging, promising you that you will change and will adapt.

Jesus does the same. He knows my humanity and limitations even better than I do. He says, Come into the challenge. I want to use you. I know you’re not ready, and you’ll need to stretch and learn as you go. But come anyways, learn from me for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your weary soul, even in the stretching and the attempts that aren’t perfect. That’s not failure, that’s growth.

Jesus never leaves me behind in the dust. He never says, You’re too lame and unskilled to join me in this mission. He brings me along and lets me learn as we go. I can’t imagine walking with a better guide.

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