I braved another yoga class last week, so I’m going to write about this one, too.
My sister turns 50 (!!??!! How is that even possible??!!) tomorrow, and last Saturday my brother-in-law planned a surprise party for her. I volunteered to play the role of diversion, tasked with keeping her away for the day. As it happened, in the middle of our day of distraction, she had already scheduled a super-special yoga class at 4 that I was able to take with her. This was not at all an ordinary yoga class, though.
My sister has a great friend – this is no surprise, my sister is a great friend – named Erin, who had taken a long yoga teachers class and this particular class was a sort-of final exam. So, taking this class was her fellow students, her husband, father, best buddy/my sister, and me. We had met a few times, enough to know how terrific she is, but certainly not enough to be in the elite company into which I had been so graciously welcomed.
Now, I am not nearly bendy enough to qualify as a yoga person, but as previously detailed, I am a ‘Try Hard.” I always attempt to contort myself into these ridiculous positions, feeling my poor muscles who have never done anything to deserve this torture scream as they threaten to tear. Erin led us, giving us names of moves (downward dog, child’s pose, etc.), inspiration, and encouragement as I tried to keep from crying out loud. It was in the Lizard that I could no longer remain composed, and finally laughed out loud. The others giggled along, knowing it was me and that I was hopelessly over my skis.
We finished and she ended with the most beautiful act of love and grace. As we laid flat on our backs, exhausted (at least I was exhausted), she kneeled at our heads, touched and massaged our foreheads and temples with oil. It was an act both shocking and natural. I could have wept at its simple, yet overwhelming significance. There is absolutely nothing like an intentional touch to remind us that we are alive and that we are all in this, whatever this is, together. She shared a poem, namaste’ed, and the class was over.
The next day, we had our Sunday service outside at the park and the cool crisp air seems to affect Gisy in the best way. It was loud and passionate, charged with Divine electricity.
After intense worship experiences, sometimes called thin spaces, we are changed and nothing makes sense anymore. I know yoga and Christian spirituality are sometimes seen as incompatible, but maybe they don’t have to be.
Erin’s class & Gisy’s set of songs were celebrations of the spirit and the physical, sacred spaces to thank God for everything – for me, you, us, the sun, air, all of creation. And the communities of mutual respect and uplifting energy generously giving their attention and care to each other’s health and growth. If these characteristics don’t sound exactly like what it means to be The Church, well then I’m not clear on what The Church is. To me, every word and breath were affirmations of the healing, connecting, redemptive work of Jesus.
I said earlier that we are changed and nothing makes sense anymore. Maybe it feels that way because we are constantly fed a diet of divisiveness, individualism, separation and loneliness, and when we crash into something authentic, something True, what we have believed is revealed to be a lie, and we are understandably disoriented. So yes, maybe nothing makes sense, but at the very same time, maybe for the first time, our eyes are opened and we can finally see clearly.
Many of these posts are my way of saying thank you. This is no different. Thank you to Gisy. The Bridge. My 50 year old sister. The Planted Yogi Erin. My new friends in that class. And most of all, Thank You to the God Who made all of it and, with tremendous grace and love, gave it to us.