Monday, April 7, 2014

Yoga for Lent

Here’s what a day in my Lent life looks like: It’s 11 PM on a Friday night. Aaron and I have enjoyed a bottle of wine and a movie, and it’s snuggle time in the Hobbit Hole. Until a sudden realization hits me: I haven’t practiced yoga!

First off, a confession: I have missed about 4-5 days during this past month of Lent. There have been days when time has slipped by and after driving up to Boston after I got out of work at 5:30, I simply run out of minutes and energy. I've learned that Lent is about giving yourself grace (which is why I don’t know exactly if it’s been 4 or 5 days). It’s not a time to intentionally mess up and call that grace, but to recognize that I’m not perfect, and that even days I miss can still be important on my journey. Grace doesn't mean letting myself off the hook with a casual “Oh, well!” It means loving myself enough to move forward and do better, and recognizing God’s love for me even when I fail.

So here’s what another sample day in my Lent life looks like: It’s 3 PM on Saturday afternoon, and I cue up one of my current favorite yoga videos. I enjoy each move in the practice and notice that I’m able to go a little deeper into my downward dog. Because there are times when you succeed, too.

I have loved adding yoga as a daily practice this Lent. I have seen my body grow, as I become more flexible and am able to go deeper into stretches that I was barely able to do at the beginning of Lent. Near the start, I worked through a 30 minute strength-building video and couldn't do all of the stretches. As the woman on my computer screen effortlessly got up in the crow position, I started laughing. There was no way crow was going to happen! I did try, though, and as Lent has progressed, I've been able to get into the position more and more. How long I can hold it is another question – Two seconds? Three? – but I've enjoyed every second I've been able to hold it! 

This Lent has been very physical for me, and it can be easy to lose sight of the spiritual significance of Lent while focusing on a physical practice. Shavasana, or the meditation portion of the practice, is the perfect chance to unite the physical and spiritual. It’s a time for me to focus on gratitude: thanking God for who He is, and letting go of obsessive control to trust in Him and His perfect timing. And let me tell you, that doesn't happen every shavasana. It’s easy for my mind to wander and ponder the finer details of that last TV episode rather than focusing on God. Yet each shavasana marks an opportunity to go deeper with God, and I’ll be working during the remainder of Lent to focus more in those moments of peace.

Don’t get me wrong: a physical Lent is not a bad Lent. I feel healthier, more flexible, and more positive when I do yoga every day. In fact, I’d really love to continue practicing yoga every day beyond Lent, because it makes me feel marvelous, and honestly, 10-20 minutes of my day is really not that much to give up for such wonderful benefits. Overall, yoga for Lent has been an incredibly positive experience.

How has your Lent been going?

Hobbes wondered why I was doing yoga outside...usually she runs around me and tries to play with me when I start yoga!

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