I had this weird thought in my head while listening to announcements after Bible Study, after having been to Body Flow class at the gym: follwoing God is like Yoga class. It seemed like such a weird thought to have, but the more I thought about it, the more it made sense. After tweaking it a bit, I came up with a few similarities I thought I’d share with you, dear readers:
- Other people’s walk looks better than yours. There’s a tall blond in the gym who takes the Body flow class with me. She seems to be made out of elastic, a human rubber band–her form on all the poses is great, and her body is amazing. Now picture your short chubby writer, pinwheeling her arms on a particularly hard balance pose next to this amazon. A lot of times on the Christian journey, we look at another person and think they are doing so much better than we are with this whole Christian thing. The thing is, you don’t necessarily know how long that person has been doing this (as pointed out by my biggest fan, Mr. P :D), how long it has taken them to get to the point where they are. You have to keep your focus on your Teacher (God), and work at the level you’re on.
- Some things are harder to do than others. I’ve been doing yoga off and on for a few years, and can do quite a few poses. I’ve even discovered I can add degrees of difficulty on some. But those balance ones always throw me. I have horrible balance. It’s so hard for me to do. Similarly in my walk with God, I have no problem with fornication, physical theft or murder, or violence. I find my patience can be stretched a lot further these days. But controlling this tongue of mine has proven a lot more difficult. It takes a lot more concentration for me to not fall when trying not to gossip or mindlessly chatter than it does for me to not stab someone.
- It doesn’t always feel like it’s supposed to feel. We are told in yoga what we should feel or how we should feel. This or that is supposed to feel relaxing. You should feel your hips opening. This should feel comfortable and there should be no strain. But sometimes, it doesn’t feel that way at all, many times because we aren’t doing it right. We think we’re doing it right, but we’ve put a hand or foot wrong. Many, many times in my walk with God, I should feel joyous or be blessed and I’m don’t, often because I’m doing something wrong. Once I correct my alignment or bend my knees, I am in position to get out of it what I’m supposed to get out of it.
- There’s a sequence and a flow to everything. You do things in a certain order for a reason. You have to be warmed up before you can attempt certain stretches. You master doing the basic pose before trying the more advanced. The relaxation comes at the end and not at the beginning because you are releasing energy rather than harnessing, using, or gathering energy. God orders our lives in a way to maximize His purpose for us. It doesn’t matter how chaotic life seems, there’s an underlining order that God has working in my life to get me where he wants me to go, if I’ll but focus on it and follow it.
- You have to show up. The Teacher is already there. The Teacher has the knowledge of what to do. You are the student, the one needing instruction. You have to go to the class. When I’ve stopped doing yoga, the class and/or DVDs were still there, I just refused to engage with them. When I find that God isn’t near, it’s I who has walked away from Him. I need Him. He is the one teaching me. Teachers don’t track down students and teach class where they find them; in order to get the lesson, you have to go where it’s taught.
- If you get lost, look to the Teacher to get back on track. There are times when I am going the wrong way, or missed the transition to a new pose. I get a little disoriented and can’t figure out where my hands go , or when to inhale and exhale. When this happens, I can always look to where the instructor is and mimic what he/she is doing. I can always hear their voice and their commands, and sometimes I just need to tune back in to catch up. When I lose my way as a Christian, I can always stop and listen to God’s commands to guide me back in the right direction. I can always look at His word and realign myself accordingly. If I imitate Christ, I know I am doing it right and am on the right track..
- The more you do it, the easier it gets and the deeper you can go. As I said, I’ve been doing yoga for a while now. Many of the positions I thought were difficult I can do with ease now. I can get deeper into the stretches and my body doesn’t protest. My body has gotten used to going that far. I can now try the harder modifications and push myself to get better and better at it. There are some things I struggled with when I first became a Christian that I don’t struggle with as much now. There are some virtues I’ve gotten better at cultivating, and have gotten deeper into what they really mean. It’s not as hard for me to remain joyful as it was 10 years ago. I can go a lot longer into periods of struggle while keeping that joy and my faith. I’m continually stretching in ways that allow me to go a bit deeper into what God’s plan is for me.
- There are built in periods of rest and recovery. There are positions in yoga in which you can recover. Child’s pose is a popular one. You may also catch your breath in the downward dog position. Each class has these little periods of rest and recovery where you can refocus on your breathing and prepare yourself for the next pose. David said of God in the 23rd Psalm that He “maketh me to lie down in green pastures.” Jesus said “come to me all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” God knows when we need to rest, even when we don’t. He doesn’t merely “allow” us to lay down in green pastures; he “makes” us! He provides us with rest periods that are part of the overall process and journey. We don’t have to sneak a rest along this journey; God stops at a rest station.
See, yoga is a lot like my walk with God. In yoga, I’ve seen a tiny reflection of God’s nature, but it’s no substitute for being a child of God. The thing is, yoga can’t save my soul. I love yoga, but I really love how God reveals himself to me in everything I do…even yoga.
What’s the weirdest connection you’ve made while working out, or what can you compare your work out with? How do you feel about your favorite work out?
Note: I do not subscribe to the philosophy that yoga is unchristian. I do not practice yoga as a religion, but as an exercise. This post in no way places yoga and God on the same plane, merely shows my insights into a spiritual exercise gained from doing a physical one. More on this later.
- Yoga ‘demonic’? Critics call ministers’ warning a stretch (seattletimes.nwsource.com)
- FitSugar says: Choose a Yoga Class That Fits Your Personality (self.com)
- Do yoga, go to hell? (holykaw.alltop.com)