In which yoga is saving my life

I walk into the room and the heat already holds me in an embrace. Somehow the sounds, busyness, life, quick-walking-to-get-to-the-next-thing are shut off outside this door. The  wall of heat and the spirit of the place don’t let it in.

Then, actual embraces from lovely, confident, I-want-to-be-like-you souls who love me as I am, who have always encouraged and challenged, never judged or fed my self-hatred, and it already feels like life, like it’s saving me, and I’m amazed again that it’s taken me a week to get back here, two weeks, that I’ve forgotten what this is or how I need it.

Then we start and it’s sacred, it’s call to worship, it’s call to silence and self. This is the hardest part, in child’s pose, where I come face to face with my very soul. I see she’s so wounded. My dear instructor is speaking healing and light and there’s nothing here to distract, there’s no way to outrun it, and so I am bowed down, forehead to mat, I become my breath, so close to the floor breathing life back into me, and I receive it.

You are in the right place, she says. Don’t try to ‘let go’ of your struggles, because then you’re categorizing success and failure. Just observe them. Just see them. I want to run, but I know I’m here. I’m here. Nowhere but here.

Then we’re standing and she invites us to form our hands into a cup and it can mean whatever you want it to and mine is always empty.

She says, You are needed. And I’m glad everyone’s eyes are closed because I’m fighting it now, the cry of recognition, the soul-pain I carried in here, the thing I needed saving from. The thing I can’t outrun on my own, the knowledge-is-not-belief struggle that I am worth something, that I have value apart from what I do or say or write. Worthy now. This room is the only place where I can see a glimmer of belief, where I can feel a seed of something forming. It’s the only place I think someday I might even accept it as true.

It’s the opening that always chokes me up, but then the rest is echoed in my body, and Lord knows she needs some healing, too. Or rather, how I respect her (or don’t) needs some attention. Everywhere else I’m critical, shaming, but here I’m strong, able, amazed. Yoga has taught me never to say “I could never do that.”

I could never get into a headstand.

I could never hold that pose.

I could never write a book.

I could never leave my kids and go to Africa for a month.

Then later, in savasana, ‘the hardest pose of all’ when you relax and quiet your mind, I meet Him there, in our spot, in my mind, and He tells me the same truths He’s been trying to say all my life. Only here, I listen. Maybe I don’t believe quite yet, but I listen and I am open. And that is all He is asking for now.

It’s cliche, but yoga is saving my life. It’s keeping my faith alive, it’s saving my mind, and it’s saving my body.

You’ll be amazed, she says. If you ask your body to do it, you might think I’m crazy to even suggest it, but just watch. Keep trying, and one day your body will suddenly get it without you forcing or willing or pushing or fighting and you’ll be amazed.

And so I am. Instead of shame and scorn, I feel proud. Impressed. Respect. Not for what I can accomplish, but the love I can offer, for the being that God saw fit to create, I am needed. I am necessary. I am loved, whole. Worthy.

When I walk out, my cup is full.

 

This post is part of a synchroblog over at Sarah Bessey’s place, where we’re talking about what’s saving our lives right now. (Using Sarah’s “In which” title style in honor of her, just this one time. :)

Practices of Imperfection

  • http://ordinarywomanordinarytime.wordpress.com Melani

    Oh yes! Just went to yoga for the first time in 3 years last week. I will be going back again and again. The power of breath in yoga reminds me of the Breath of God–strong, vibrant, always moving. Thanks.

    • http://www.kimvanbrunt.com Kim Van Brunt

      Yes — I find so many connections to God in yoga. Breath, love, acceptance, self-care, exploring the limits, safety, meditation, etc. etc. It’s so life-giving.

  • http://sarahaskins.com Sarah@From Tolstoy to Tinkerbell

    Oh, so lovely. I’m always in awe and terror of yoga. I love that we must exist outside of our can’ts to find ourselves.

    • http://www.kimvanbrunt.com Kim Van Brunt

      Obviously, I highly recommend trying yoga. You may have to go a few times to find the right instructor and space… makes a HUGE difference.

  • http://www.JanetOberholtzer.com Janet Oberholtzer

    Hi, new here via Sarah.

    Love this… I like yoga also, but recently haven’t been to class, and yesterday I just signed up to start again next week and after reading this, I can’t wait.

    peace…

    • http://www.kimvanbrunt.com Kim Van Brunt

      Yay Janet! There really is nothing like it. I forget so easily, but once I walk in those doors, I remember and I wonder what took me so long to get back. Namaste.

  • http://ellejanelle.wordpress.com Lyndsey

    “Or rather, how I respect her (or don’t) needs some attention. Everywhere else I’m critical, shaming, but here I’m strong, able, amazed.”

    Yoga changed my relationship with my body, too. I’d love to be able to take classes with others!

    • http://www.kimvanbrunt.com Kim Van Brunt

      Oh, Lyndsey, it’s so life-giving to be in class with others. I consider it an integral part of the experience, though I know yoga can be a very deep individual practice as well. I’d love to practice with all of you one day! xo

  • http://www.carisadel.com Caris Adel

    I’ve never wanted to try yoga before, but now….you make it sound so appealing, and more relaxing than freaking Jillian. I hate her. I should get a dvd and try it.

    • http://www.kimvanbrunt.com Kim Van Brunt

      Give it a try, Caris! I enjoy Jillian now and then, but she is all about punishment and beating your body up for a result. I used to stay far away from yoga because I wanted as much pain as possible during a workout so I knew I was doing something… yoga (and some pretty amazing instructors) taught me that it’s a give-and-take — that listening to your body requires its own kind of strength. And really, there’s nothing like getting into a pose you thought you could never do. It changes your very mind, I’m telling you.

      Also, I hate all yoga DVDs, and I’ve tried a few. There’s something about the community of a class — being able to watch others, realizing there’s no shame in trying, and no one looks down on beginners. It’s very nourishing. I recommend finding a studio and trying a class that regulars there recommend.

  • http://www.reneeprymus.com Renee

    Yes!!! Thank you, Kim! This is one of the most beautiful posts about yoga and Christianity that I have ever read – and I’ve read (and written) plenty. Thank you for sharing this. Yoga IS worship.

    I’m curious about what you might think of a blog about Christianity and yoga that I’ve started over at http://www.reneeprymus.com. Love to hear your thoughts sometime when you get a chance.

    Peace and namaste to you.

    • http://www.kimvanbrunt.com Kim Van Brunt

      I’m so glad you stopped by, Renee! I enjoyed looking around your blog — I know I’m only brushing the surface of yoga with my practice; I love what you have to say meditating on the sutras etc. It’s so deep and rich and there is so much there for the Christian. Yoga is worship, body, mind, soul — yes, sister. (Also, I spied Rohr’s Ennegram book in your stack of vacation reading — we are soul sisters for sure! I thought I was a 1 for so long… turns out I’m a 3 (hence, the shame). It’s been a sobering thought.)

      Given that you write about yoga regularly, I’m honored by your compliment. Thank you! Namaste.

      • http://www.reneeprymus.com Renee

        You’re not the only 1 I’ve heard who turned out to be a 3! I’m a 1 who might actually be a 6… must do more soul searching. Thanks for the look-around. I’m glad to have your online friendship. :)
        Peace

  • http://howtotalkevangelical.addiezierman.com/ Addie Zierman

    I now have yoga class envy. Also, this is beautiful.

    • http://www.kimvanbrunt.com Kim Van Brunt

      Addie, you HAVE to come down and be my guest for a class! It’s only $10, and I would pay for it, and just… come. Sunday morning 10:15 a.m? could make a weekend out of it…

  • http://www.sdanddoublee.blogspot.com stacey

    YES. I started yoga in January and I adore it. I was always intimidated to try it, but now it is one of my favorite times of the week because of all those things you just stated. Loved this post, Kim.

  • http://www.sarahbessey.com Sarah Bessey

    Oh, wow, Kim! I feel like this just, I don’t know, *ministered* to me. I lack this connection and respect with my body, i think, this makes me want to try yoga. Gorgeous.

  • http://www.spare-parts.blogspot.com Stacey Miller

    Love. Love. Love. I couldn’t have written it better myself. Hot yoga definitely is saving my life on pose at a time!!