A decade ago, when I first started practicing yoga and Pilates, I could be heard telling people while rolling my eyes, “I like yoga, but I’m not into all that meditation stuff. All that ‘check in with your hamstrings,’ and zen business. I just want a workout.”
It took me years to muster the courage to attend a fitness class of any kind. But Daniel had found a fitness routine that worked for him, his diligence rewarded with results, while my “squeeze it in when I can” approach wasn’t working. I started feeling resentful, and I knew that was trouble. So I began attending a yoga class that has childcare. Hallelujah, amen.
Wrangling my children to get them to yoga—or, honestly, anywhere—can be a challenge. So by the time I bust my empty stroller through the doors into the fellowship hall at the church around the corner, I am usually a few minutes late. Our instructor anticipates this, and he waits. Soon we’re settling in and finding our seats, closing our eyes and breathing deeply. “Finally, take the biggest breath you’ve taken all day, maybe all week,” he says, and I always think, it’s like he knows me.
It has only recently occurred to me that, in some Christian circles, yoga is maligned, due to its Hindu roots. I have read the reasoning, and I try to get the case against yoga, but I just can’t. I see some suggest “just do the stretching,” like younger me tried to do.
Older me, who manages a home, and work from home, and three children and three meals a day says, “honey, don’t miss out!” My muscle tone has benefited from yoga, for sure, but now that is only maybe half the reason I fight to get there each week.
Like so many things I had once thought were separate, maybe body and spirit aren’t meant to be so disengaged. Maybe spiritual practice and our physical selves are natural partners, just as I’m finding ministry and loving others to be.
As we lie in that final posture, he talks us through our muscle groups, encouraging us to release tension where we find it. When he arrives at our hands, he says, “check for any clenching or grasping, notice it, and let it go.”
I lie with mind at peace, grateful heart and open hands, breathing in the gift of this moment, hopeful I can take it with me off the mat.