You are either thinking cool, her title! Or what, seriously? Stay with me here. It was an hour and a half toward the end of my yoga practice, while laying flat on my back, in savasana, trying to relax, and let go of my stress for the day, (which really means stress of my life) when I began to tense up, not wanting to let my arms and hands gently fall to my sides, onto my mat. This was many, years ago, while I was in the middle of my yoga teacher training, and I was discovering what happened, not only physically, but mentally, and spiritually, during asanas in a yoga class. Yes, all three, mind, body, spirit.
Now, I know what many of you are thinking. “Spiritually? See, I knew yoga was a religion. I just knew that it wasn’t from God, and some gateway to something we shouldn’t partake in.” Or maybe your thoughts aren’t so severe, but you question… I ask you to hold your horses friends. Please follow me for a moment. People have asked me over and over, “is yoga a religion? What in the world do they mean, let go, or open your heart? What do those poses mean anyway?” Well, for every single person, it is individual and personal, and either tied to no religion at all, or maybe a religion. I know, you have done your research, and you have heard many stories, proving that yoga is a religion. I know. I’ve looked into it all myself, and found the truth. Most importantly, I found my truth, and how for me, Jesus was right there, on my mat with me, no matter what the person next to me was believing or doing. (which is none of my business anyway) I met Him on a deeper level, right there on my mat. I am not religious, and don’t have a religion. I have a spiritual relationship with Jesus, and surrender my life to Him. That’s about it. I look for Him, yes, in a yoga class. As well as on a long run, while cooking, on the beach, or the movies, driving my car, at a concert, or while meeting strangers. Wherever!
The funny, and not so funny thing, is that people think that it’s when you put on your Sunday best, and go to church, that you find God. Maybe, yes. But, not so true most times. From what I see, and have experienced on my own, is that Sunday is the day we are sometimes furthest from God. Unless you really get it, and let go, surrender, and be still, you will miss Him. People get all dressed up, put on that all together, “happy” face, race out the door, to look good, and show up for church (in a building) hoping that no one will really see what’s going on inside. Of course that’s probably not you, and I know that we all go, for humble, meaningful, reasons. But let’s get real. Some days, there’s a lot more going on. You show up annoyed with your husband or wife, your kids are discouraged and having a difficult time, you’re hung over, in a fight with a friend, carrying around anger or jealousy or worst yet, judgement. We want to look like we have it all going on, so we hold our heads up high, and move through the day with smiles, that don’t really come from deep within, and words are spoken that are not quiet true to ourselves, or expressive of where we really are in the moment. We fake it.
If you are lucky enough, you have had a supernatural experience in “church”, and have felt the weight of the world lifted off you. I have. Maybe a word shot straight through your heart, and changed you instantly. Happened to me. Maybe a passionate, beautiful song, or watching someone worship with arms wide open, and a humbled heart, struck a chord with you, and took you to an emotional place of healing like you’d never experienced before. Loved that. It happens. In church it happens for sure. What I hope you know though, is that it wasn’t the church that did that. It wasn’t church (your building) where you showed up on Sunday, that allowed that to happen. It wasn’t church that brought you to your knees. It wasn’t church, that filled your heart so deeply, that tears burst through, and poured out of your eyes, down your face . What happened to you there, in church, is what happened to me, on my mat, that sweet day, long ago in savasana.
It was in savasana, that I had a supernatural, surreal moment, and met Jesus on an entirely new level, right there, in a yoga studio, on my mat. It was on my mat, my arms holding to my chest and unable to fall to my sides and relax and let go, where I heard a voice. (not audible, but in my spirit.) “Let go. Surrender. Allow me to be with you, and heal the very part of you that can’t just BE.” I couldn’t seem to let my arms fall away to the side. I was holding myself tightly, and just stuck. I placed them back over my heart and kept them there, gripping as if something I could do, would take away my troubles and pain. Part of savasana, is to allow yourself to be, and just let go. To rest. To let down all walls, all worry, all past and present, and just Be. Well, I couldn’t be, for some reason. Then, out of no where, I was struck in a powerful way. Thoughts and visuals were flying through my mind, and downloading into my spirit. I saw my 15 years old self, in the shower, beaten, alone. and a bloody mess. I saw myself clinging to my own body, holding myself together, while I shook uncontrollably, trying to wash my body of the ugliness that just occurred, crying and screaming, though no one could hear me, cause I shoved my hands over my mouth to silence myself. I saw myself alone and holding on for dear life in that moment, for I knew I would totally lose it, and come apart completely, if I let go. The visions kept coming, and I tensed up even more. The tension became real and I could feel it in my body, mind and spirit. My hands and arms covered my heart while laying there. They were firm and shaking and not budging. Because of that horrid act, in that moment, my mind and body were reliving it. I was experiencing a traumatic moment all over again, right there on my mat. It was surreal. Sadly, this had happened many times before. But why now? What? Why? I just finished practicing yoga, with the most amazing group of beautiful people, in a quiet peaceful class. I was in a good place. So I thought. Stress, bad memories, and pain, have a way of creeping up on you when you least expect it. It began to take hold of me. But, again, I heard that voice. “I am here. I am with you. Surrender it. Right now, let it all go.” How do I express what happened next? I won’t go into it all, because there really are no words. But in that moment, I grabbed ahold of my thoughts and captured them right then and there. I imagined Jesus standing there, over me, with arms wide open, waiting for me to come to Him. There are no words. Really. I am just not an eloquent, expressive writer, to even come close to sharing the healing I felt within my mind, body and spirit. I decided to allow my hands to unclasp, and my arms to loosen and drift to my side. I slowly pushed the memories away, and filled them with a picture of who I am in Him. I held on to that. I held on to Him, and He held on to me. I reached out to Him. Surrendered …. and then, I don’t know how I saw it, but He let me see this beautiful young girl, smiling and running along the beach, laughing and joyful. It was me. My spirit was soaring high and found myself in Him. My heart-felt as if it were floating above me, and my breath began to slow down, into a deep, calm peace. Right there, on my mat, a radical transformation occurred. It was healing, powerful, supernatural and real. I wasn’t in church. It wasn’t on a Sunday. It wasn’t when I looked all together and pretty. It was when I was vulnerable, afraid, weak and a sweaty, salty mess of a yogi, laying there on my mat.
Many people have asked me, “What kind of people go to yoga? What kind of people practice yoga? What religion is yoga? Are they dabbling in witchcraft or some demonic, pagan way of being?” I’ve heard it all. Really. Not to lie, I’ve questioned it. I question just about everything, so I’m not pointing fingers. But, I’ll tell you, the kind of people who practice yoga, are about the same as the ones in your church. They are amazing, humble, sacrificing, salt of the earth, giving, selfless, generous, lovely, kind people. They are hippies, foodies, liberals, conservatives, climate change, tree hugging, loving people. Just know though, that in your church, there are people you don’t care to talk about. People who are alcoholics, drug abusers, pedophiles, porn addicts, adulterers, liars, frauds and broken, messed up people. Right there. In church. Sitting with you in the pew. Yep. They are there. The same goes for any yoga class, and of course, everywhere. And that’s where Jesus is. You’ll find Him everywhere. You’ll find Him with the worst and best of people, and in the most unthinkable places. You’ll find him on a mission trip and on a street corner, in a board meeting and in a night club. You’ll find Him living in a cardboard box and in a bar. See, Jesus didn’t go toward the powerful, beautiful, successful people. He went toward the lost, lonely, hurt, broken people. And those people are you and me. (yeah, you may be powerful, and beautiful, but you get me….) He wants us when we are broken, meek and humble. And if you peel away the layers, you’ll find that broken person somewhere on the inside. We all are to some extent broken. How could we not be, living this life on this earth? It wasn’t in a building or particular place that He met with people. He just met them where they were. He wants to meet us right where we are, wherever we are. It’s just like the potter, working with soft, fresh, pliable clay. He can mold it out of nothing, and transform it into the most precious, beautiful piece of work. It would be hard to do the same with a solid, hardened complete piece of stone. If you seek Him, you will find Him. If you let go, soften your heart, and surrender yourself, you will find Him. It may be while working, surfing, hiking, or in crazy traffic. It may be in the shower, (usually is for me!), or while managing your children, while completely overwhelmed and tired. It may be at a bar, or in your sorority. Or maybe while washing dishes in the back of a kitchen, or in the office, where no one even notices you, or knows your name. But He is there. He wants to meet you in a very personal, real, authentic, no B.S. about it, kind of way.
I’m sure you may say, “Why would you share that? Don’t you care about what people think of you? That’s so personal.” Well, I share, because when I do, I hear, “me too.” When I speak truthfully, I hear “I know, I’ve been there.” I hear, “thank you. I needed to hear that.” Sadly, I hear that often about physical or mental abuse. No lie. A lot. So, if there’s a simple way for me to show God’s love, and power, it’s to share my stories and my pain, that He has miraculously rewritten, changed and healed. It’s all for Him! All for you to see a glimpse of His mighty, radical, never-ending love for YOU. So if one story, or look into my life may help you know, or see that, then that my friend, is why.
So when you are all dressed up, this Sunday, maybe on your way to church, and pass by the jogger on the street, (that certainly can’t be going to service like you) or you see the yoga studio open, and classes are full, or the SUV with bike racks on top, heading off for some fun, or the homeless person on the side of the road, or the angry person in the checkout line, remind yourself that they just might be meeting God, where they are meeting God. And if you’re in church, where everyone looks to have it all together, know that your sweet glance or wink, hug or smile, may mean much more than you could ever imagine. Sometimes it’s in the least expected places where we encounter such a blessing, as His presence. It was for me. Right there in the middle of yoga, sweaty and a mess, on my mat.