Just a little over two years ago a very dear friend invited me to join her for a yoga session. I can’t say I was skeptical exactly, or even nervous, I just kind of was. Yoga was something I only knew from a very great distance. Because of its eastern spiritual roots yoga was kept at arms length in all the Christian circles that I have ever moved in. Even at Alon, yoga was merely something that we joked about but in all honesty, knowing next to nothing about it, yoga appealed to me. I would never have volunteered this information to anyone, it would only have resulted in immediate ridicule and possibly even a deliverance session to rid me of the demon of eastern philosophy.
And so, for the longest time, even after leaving Alon, yoga was something I kept at arms-length until that day that will forever be burned in my memory. “Why don’t you join me for a yoga class? Janine is awesome and I think you may really enjoy it.” Aah, I thought to myself, yoga, that elusive and forbidden thing, yes! I want to see for myself what this mystical practice is all about.
My first Yoga Class
Well, I stepped into the studio and onto a mat and I felt like I had come home. I just felt so safe, right there on my mat in a room of strangers moving their bodies in the same direction as mine. It is there on the mat that I have found a peace and a strength that I didn’t know existed. It was something that came from within. I found tolerance and forgiveness both for myself and others. I remembered what it was to breathe, to balance. I remembered my own body. I rediscovered my limbs, I became thankful for the way my spine held me up tirelessly day after day and the fact that my fingers never ceased working or that my feet stood firm all these years without so much as a thank you. My heart, I discovered, beating faithfully in my chest. I learned patience. I allowed my taught muscles to be, I accepted that my fingers could barely touch my knees and I just flowed. I flowed from week to week, class to class, until one day I was touching the floor and I couldn’t even remember when that happened. I flowed through my emotions, I let them come and I let them go. I flowed through my whirling thoughts and looked at them from a distance and put them aside. I made space. I allowed myself to be. I healed. I healed in places and in ways I didn’t even know needed to. I opened up, my eyes – the ones that seem to exist in every cell of your skin and somewhere else, quivering through time and space. I saw, I allowed myself to see, to hear, to feel. I came alive, slowly. I unfurled, allowing myself to embrace the new. And most of all, I learned to listen – not to the noise all around me but to that still voice deep within that seems to echo its message on the most delicate string like a violin of the soul. I found solace.
Is Yoga my new religion?
I don’t view yoga as a religion, but I am learning that it is a way of life, a philosophy and one that resonates with me far more than any sermon from a pulpit ever has. Maybe its because there is no judgement in yoga, no competition, no ego and no ultimate goal or finishing line. To me it seems that it is all about the journey and the now, which is really all we have. And it’s about trusting yourself. Perhaps if we are “fearfully and wonderfully made” as it says in the bible then yoga is a beautiful way to celebrate the unique beings that we are and to get in touch with this masterful creation that is the human body and mind.
“I love and accept myself and those around me.” those are the words we repeat quietly to ourselves at the beginning of every lesson and they eventually sank in and healed me. They were so opposite to the fire and brimstone/sinner saved by grace approach that had been imbedded in my subconscious for almost as long as I can remember.
Yoga is for everyone
I don’t preach yoga, but I recommend it to anyone, Christian, Muslim, young, old – it really doesn’t matter. If you can’t face a therapy session or if you feel like your mind can’t stop racing or if you feel uncomfortable in your own skin or if you have chronic pain or if you just need some space, then I recommend you step onto a yoga mat.
It’s now a part of my routine and if a few days go by without me unrolling my mat I can feel it in my body and my mind.
A good Place to Start
So, if you’re thinking of giving it a bash then I recommend going to yoga classes if you can – especially in the beginning just so that you can get confident in your alignment and poses and avoid injury. But I do plenty of yoga at home and there are tons of great YouTube channels and apps available. One of my favourites are Boho Beautiful