Yesterday, I said in my sermon that I think you have to be called to a discipline or a fast for it to be about more than just weight loss or getting healthy or whatever. And what I was called to do when I prayed and thought about it was yoga. Every day. And specifically, the Baptiste form of power yoga taught by one of my favorite podcasters, Dave Farmar. Yoga has been an important spiritual practice to me for a long time now, ever since I took a class after my dad died and discovered that it did much to soothe (and release) that heavy grief. I keep making excuses why I can’t get to a class, but that’s clearly ridiculous, because Dave (and people like him) are right there on my computer at home! So I have been called, and this will be my answer over these 40 days.
I’ve been getting ready for a couple weeks now, practicing here and there, and it felt pretty good to actually get through 2 days (Ash Wednesday was technically Day 1, I guess) of yoga classes. My hip hurts, my shoulder hurts, and I’m sore in general, and things are definitely being released. I felt sad and angry all day yesterday (Ash Wednesday, appopriately enough), and then remembered that yoga does that to me when I begin…clears it ALL out for the peacefulness later.
Here’s my takeaway for the day (not sure if I’ll have one every day, but they do seem to happen every time I do a class!). Dave (I call him Dave) is really big on chair pose, not only because it will strengthen the crap out of your quads, but because it can teach you things. I’m sure I’ll learn more from chair pose, but today Dave said “Can you soften something? Find something to soften, even in this pose.”
I have found myself calling on that practice in my pastoral work and at home, even before hearing it so clearly now. When I’m listening to someone who is anxious (or listening to someone and find MYSELf become anxious), I think of what I can soften. My face? My hands? My posture? My words? Even in the midst of being in uncomfortable positions like hospital visitation, conflict between two people, parenting in general, I can almost always find something to soften. And that is a blessed gift.