The day I met yoga was a day I had often thought of, but never did I imagine that I would one day walk through the door of a yoga studio. You know, as a Christian woman I was told plenty of times by churchgoers that yoga was not something “Christians” should do. I never really understood why, but I obliged for years.
Call it what you like, but I was never okay with not taking the leap and trying what I felt my body needed. There was a draw, so to speak, to do yoga. What’s yoga anyway that I person who is of a Christian faith cannot or should not do?
It’s all about finding your center.
Okay, for me that would be God.
It’s listening to your breathing.
Okay, for me that would require me to “be still and know that He is God.” (Psalm 46:10)
It’s about finding balance.
Okay, for me that would constitute me being obedient.
So, what is the fuss all about?
With everything in me, I knew God was calling me to this sort of exercise. I needed it, for I have a pretty hectic life. That is to say, I love every minute of it, but it’s still full speed ahead—all the time. I started looking for the best places to practice yoga postures (one thing to keep in mind when doing your research is to find a place that has great customer service). After several emails, and telephone calls to several studios, the manager from The Yoga Factory in Westerville, Ohio called me. We had the most pleasant and detailed conversation about what I should try, and what I shouldn’t try in the beginning. We talked about my faith and my beliefs. We talked about how I am a swimmer, and how I could never touch my toes from the time I was in elementary school. We talked about my life and my hectic schedule. She told me where to start and before we hung up the telephone I had signed up!
Reading this you may not fully grasp how much I needed to find calm in my life. You see, I’m a giver; I give, give, and then I give some more. I didn’t want to slow down or give less, but I needed to find a better balance before life broke me. I have always loved water, so I would swim for hours completing laps and working out some things in my head as I swam. That worked, but I still needed something else. Walking? Well, that’s a real bore for me. I tried to make it fun by running up and down some killer steps (127 to be exact), but once you accomplish that feat there has to be more. I thought about a triathlon, but I hate group anything. I mean it. I do not like group exercises. My friends laugh at me all the time. They will invite me to Hip Hop Fitness, and I frown and say, “Nope, you know I hate group exercises.” Don’t get me wrong. I love to dance, but only in the privacy of my home. Okay, I have a confession: every now and then when I am out with my daughter and music comes on in the stores I will start dancing just to embarrass her. To live life to full reaps joy, and with that one must dance!
Back to this yoga adventure. Have you ever tried it? Oh my, it’s great! I went the easy route and chose the Deep Stretch & Destress class to start. That sounded just like what I needed. All of four people were in the class. That was perfect for me. Remember, I don’t do group exercises. All appeared over 60. Cool. I will at least fit in as a 50-something. The class began. Oh wow! Not what I expected. I could not bend over for too long of a period. I was out of shape. Thankfully the instructor came over and told me in a soft whisper, “You’re doing good.” Yes, she was probably feeding me some of the you-know-what, but I believed her. She asked if she could reposition my hands and OH MY! the stretch caused me to sweat! I’m sure I dropped a good five pounds that day. Near the end of the class, she took us into a time of breathing and listening to every breath. Before I knew it I was sleep along with everyone else in the room. When she rang the bell… talk about refreshing! I never felt so good from exercising.
I was sold!
Now I am on to Tai Chi Yoga. That class was phenomenal! It’s life altering! It’s amazing! And don’t worry, I don’t chant. I pray, and God hears me and He speaks back to me. But there’s more. There’s something about The Yoga Factory that brings about real community. No one is trying to size you up or down. No one is trying to compete with you. No one is trying to look better than you. No one is laughing at you. It’s everyone finding their space on their mat ready to listen to their own breathing after being drowned out the last twenty-four to forty-eight hours. Never, and I mean never, in my life have I been able to find my center, fold my hands in a prayer position and lift my leg! Never! Did I say, Never? Never! I wanted to shout at the top of my lungs about my success! But then I remembered others were in the room finding their center, and I decided to remain quiet. But even when I was quiet, the birds were excited! They were singing as I was centering! Is that a word? Centering? I am not sure, but that is the best way I can express myself. I was proud of me! Attending the Yoga Factory helped me find real pride in myself and that was a first in a very long time. Oh, what a feeling! On the way home I called my husband to tell him I was able to balance on one leg and lift the other for more than thirty seconds. Trust me, thirty seconds is longer than you think.
Now, you may ask, why the proud moment? In 2000 I had suffered a TIA attack. That’s a mini-stroke. To be able to stand on the one leg that I was once unable to move, or have any feeling in, was a super big deal to me. Yes, I believe the Lord healed me immediately, and yet I am still extremely grateful for the ability to find my center and balance in this non-skinny body, on one leg, lifting the other. That’s a sign of health, healing, and wholeness. That’s a sign of strength.
Throughout the class, the instructor took us through every move and then to a place of never-never-land. She asked permission to rub our temples and before I knew it, I was out like a light. To share another confession: I do not do well in unfamiliar territory. Don’t expect me to close my eyes especially if I don’t know you, or if I’m not familiar with the space. But in this space, none of that mattered.
What has changed in my life? What led me to yoga? I decided to live. I mean really live. No, I’m not talking about falling away somewhere. I am talking about living each day as if it were the last. I decided to do me! I decided to be adventerous! I like to have fun. Just ask my children, husband, family, and friends. However, having fun was not enough for me. I wanted more. I desired to live a long and fuller life. In order to do this I needed to be well. Yoga is doing that for me. Just writing the word “yoga” makes me pause and reflect on the time I have wasted because of what others have classified it.
Yoga is: Mind. Body. Spirit. For me, that means my mind is stayed on Jesus, my body is a temple, and my spirit is connected to the Holy Spirit.
May I encourage you?
Listen to your body and do what your body is calling you to do. Everyone has something to say, but they cannot determine what is best for you. Doing yoga has given me a brand new life, and a new community.
What about you?
What are you doing to get your life back on track? What are you doing for life-balance?
What are you progress are you making to do what your body is calling you to do?