Let’s take a journey, shall we? Imagine you are an extroverted, externally-processing, people-pleasing, retail worker. It’s December. Life is…well, “busy” doesn’t quite cover it. You have yet to discover you have boundaries issues and stink at self-care. You are juggling about a hundred emotional plates. You are simultaneously trying to be realistic with your expectations: what can you reasonably do this holiday season? You want to do it all. That pull is strong.
Are you feeling exhausted yet? 🙂
This is where I was before we went to Ohio for Christmas. Now add the legit joys of family time and what that might mean for the above described person: another 50 plates.
It became too much. I know you might be thinking, “yeah, DUH!” 🙂
In the Fall, a friend of mine from my house church community invited me to visit her yoga studio for a free week of classes. Nothing like “free” to enable me to try out a new thing! And post-Christmas, post-self-care-revelations, we agreed to meet for my first class.
There is nothing sweeter than a right thing at the right time.
When I was a “young & fresh” college student, I had the privilege to be part of a community that used ballet as a tool to worship Jesus. I had no previous dance experience, just a general affinity for dance as many young girls do. I remember my ballet teacher, Michele, told me after my first class she assumed I was an ex-dancer. Dance fit my body like a glove; there were things about the movements I intuitively understood. Ballet was also very good for me. It disciplined me in a way that encouraged me. I wanted to work hard because I wanted to be able to move better. Taking ballet, using it as a tool for strength and expression, felt like coming home. It was the right thing at the right time.
So when novice-yogi Jes stepped into the Core Power Yoga studio in Northeast Minneapolis, aspects of the space felt like my ballet home. This put me at ease. I knew my first yoga class would be difficult physically; I haven’t “worked out” in probably 3 years! For the first time in awhile, I gave myself grace to try. While sitting in the unheated studio space, beside my beautiful hippie friend whom I love to bits, I opened a dialogue with my friend Jesus, thanking Him for the free class and the space in my schedule to try this. I felt like He responded, “Yeah, you and yoga are gonna be buds.” I laughed and class began.
Dudes, He was SO RIGHT.
My body understood what yoga was asking it to do. And it challenged me to work hard without judgment. I felt free, able to focus on just my breath and my body, to cultivate stillness & peace while stretching and twisting and working hard. Sweat was pouring off me. 🙂 And then, mid-class, the teacher said, “Whoever said you have to do cardio to sweat was never a dancer.” I chuckled, mid-pose, and thought, “My people!”
After the main body of the class was over and we were laying in “corpse pose” (morbid but profound), I felt no ounce of stress. It was as if the plates I’d been juggling had evaporated into the puddles of sweat around me. I was so grateful for the peace. I dialogued with Jesus again, and felt like He responded, telling me He’d make a way for this to become a new tool for me. And I took Him at His word.
So, with little expertise and much faith, I am stepping forward into the practice of yoga. For those of you outside traditional western religions, who already understand the benefits of deliberate slowness, meditation, holistic care of the self and intentionality, thank you for sharing what you know with me. I am broken and you are teaching me how to do life better. For those of you in the Church who fear eastern traditions corrupting me, I see your hearts. I know what you are worried about. Please be assured I am using this as a tool to cultivate the relationship I have with the God we love. And pray for me!
I began working for Core Power Yoga last week so as to reap the benefits of their generous discount/perks. In exchange for 6 hours of studio cleaning/month, I basically get to take unlimited yoga classes for the foreseeable future. (That is QUITE the deal.) For now, I am practicing once/week. My lazy muscles are sore and unhappy with me. I will tune out their protests, and drown their lactic acid in water and epsom salt. 🙂
Me and yoga are gonna be buds.
Meanwhile, the cats are intrigued with “their” new toy…