Since Ash Wednesday, I’ve been getting my “om” on twice weekly. This is the second year that I’ve decided to add Yoga to my life during the season of Lent. I find that taking time to do something relaxing and meditative is much better for my spirit than depriving myself of something for 40 days–although I understand the religious associations with the latter. I grew up giving up soda or ice cream each Lenten season. (Although, to be honest, I thought it was completely unfair that Spring Break fell during that time, and granted myself a one week reprieve, which I justified by starting my Lent one week early.) And, although I was mindful of why I wasn’t allowing myself to indulge my cravings for carbonation or frozen desserts, I didn’t find myself feeling very spiritual about the experience–more just grumpy.
That’s why I decided to make a commitment to add something in to my life every year at Lent. The first year, I prayed daily. The second year, I exercised twice a week–this was back when that was not a part of my lifestyle. I think I skipped a couple years at the beginning of college, but then my senior year I tried the Yoga thing.
Yoga allows my mind and body to connect in a way that nothing else does. When I allow my mind to release all extraneous thought, and I spend time focusing on inhales, exhales, and fluid movements, I feel thankful for my strong body, my strong mind, and the God that blessed me with them. That connectedness becomes rooted deep within me until I feel it at times–even when I’m not practicing Yoga. It gives me patience, gentleness, love, kindness, and joy. Basically, I find myself over-flowing with the fruits of the spirit.
I love to practice a variety of Yoga. Some days, I challenge myself with a Power Yoga class at my gym. Other days, it’s Yoga on the mat in my living room with a Shiva Rea DVD. (My puppies like “sacred rolling” the best.) Recently, I started going to a Yoga studio close by, and have been impressed by how experiential those practices are. (Last week, I vocalized my first “om”.)
Every time I start doing Yoga with fidelity, I tell myself I’m going to keep it up this time. But then, without fail, things get in the way. Half-marathon training runs, the appeal of a higher-calorie-burning workout, or just life in general. This time, though, I’m hoping the practice will become habit, so that next year I’ll need to find a new Lenten devotion…