Just let go…

So let go, let go…cause there’s beauty in the breakdown…” –Frou Frou

My key word for 2009 was “surrender.” Because let’s be honest, I have control issues.  I have mostly learned this through the practice of yoga.Yoga is teaching me to see exercise and my body differently.The past few years, I’ve come to recognize just how connected physical and emotional can be.

SIDE BAR: I want to be clear that yoga “is teaching me” and not “has taught me” these things. It is definitely progressive. I’m never convinced when people say that one experience “taught” them a huge life lesson. These things need reinforcement and lots of prayer to really sink in. And even then…but anyway…

Here’s what I love about yoga: for one hour no one is asking anything of me, no one expects anything of me, rather it’s about how my body is feeling in that moment. I made a breakthrough in this particular class. I always get a little twinge of dread when the instructor begins balance poses like crow or firefly because I’m so bad at them. I’m also bad at being bad at things. So, naturally, last spring, I spent  lot of time in my room practicing these poses. And I got a little better, but not much. But after being away for 7 weeks, I lost a lot of ground, and I really wasn’t feeling it. So instead of forcing myself into something I wasn’t ready for, I let myself rest in child’s pose. In other words, I let go. I let go of my expectations and ideas about what I am supposed to be able to do. (Why is that so hard?)

At the end of class, we always do what’s called “savasana,” or corpse pose. She told us that this was the most important pose and the hardest pose because we really have to learn how to let go. As the thoughts creep into the quiet spaces, you are supposed to push them out. I imagined I was flipping through photos on an iPhone–I just kept scrolling, resisting the urge to focus on one thing.

This is why I need yoga. Most other forms of exercise tell me to push myself, get better, get faster, go longer. Yoga says yes I will get better, I will be able to do more, but only by acknowledging where I am now, and honoring that place. It says this practice is not just about my body, but my mind and spirit as well. For me on that day, it was the letting go that let me move forward.

God asks us to offer up our lives to him, not that we have anything to offer. He asks that we offer up our sinful life, and he replaces it with His righteousness. The physical act of surrendering in yoga helps me to remember who I am as a created being–not in control, but an active participant in God’s kingdom.

Psalm 4:5 Offer up right sacrifices and put your trust in the Lord.

Yoga and Christianity

I never really gave serious consideration to the spiritual origins of yoga, especially because the power yoga class I usually do is anything but spiritual. (We listen to Lenny Kravitz and do hula hoop motions most days.) Reader Chili T turned me on to this article in Her.meneutics by a woman who used to do FOCUS (young life for rich kids). She discusses how although it has Hindu origins, yoga can be used as a physical response to what we know to be true about God. Like the author, I’ve often used yoga poses in my own prayer life.

I’ve also learned to breathe, and that has changed me.