All week, I’ve been pondering an interesting development in my understanding of Yoga and its relationship to my faith. This past week in church, on the second Sunday of Easter, our pastor gave an interesting sermon on the Resurrection. It struck my interest so quickly, that I began taking notes. From my rough outline, penciled in the margins of my bulletin, here’s a quick recap:
(This is by no means a direct quote… Rather my summary of what was said!)
There are twelve appearances of the resurrected Jesus in the gospel. Interestingly, 12 is the Biblical number for “completeness” or “perfection”. Although there are rumors of other appearances, not penned or included in the holy word, these twelve hold the substance and the meaning behind the Resurrection.
One of the appearances (according to John 20:1-22) occurred the evening of that very first Easter. The disciples (all twelve of them) had gathered together to comfort one another in the sorrow they were feeling upon the crucifixion of their leader. They’d heard rumors all day–women around town were saying the tomb was empty and that Jesus had been raised from the dead, however, they were skeptical. They didn’t dare to believe this was true.
But then, in the midst of their gathering, Jesus appeared and said to them: “Peace be with you.” In these words is the meaning of Easter. With these words, Jesus transforms the pain and loss of his death into joy and peace. In the depths of despair, Jesus sheds light, bringing life from death.
He repeats these words, adding “as God has sent me, so I send you” (John 20:21). It is with these words that Jesus issues a charge for what will become the Church. It is with these words that we are called to respond to the resurrection, to share grace and peace with one another.
The next verse reads: “And with that, he breathed on them and said, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit'” (John 20:22 NIV). Through the breath, Jesus says, we are able to do everything that God calls us to do. Through the breath, we find grace, peace, and forgiveness.
As I contemplated the last part of this sermon, and Jesus’ use of the word breath, I drew a parallel between what Jesus said and did, and what I’ve lately been experiencing in my Yoga practice. The sense of peace that Jesus brought to the disciples when they learned of his Resurrection, the peace felt through the Holy Spirit, is the peace that I feel in Yoga. It’s through the movement of Yoga that I feel connected to God. And what guides movement in Yoga? Breath.
I had a brief, but impactful, conversation with my Dad on Easter Sunday. He’d read my most recent post on Yoga and explained to me that it mirrored the benefits he gets from Meditation. He told me that, over the years as he’s practiced Meditation, he’s begun to believe that Jesus taught people to achieve actualization through something similar to Yoga or Meditation. He even drew a parallel between Buddha and Jesus.
Sunday afternoon, as I surrendered deeply into Pigeon Pose, which has become my most contemplative position, I thought more about these connections. I’m convinced that the breath–which is with us always, filling us deeply from head to toe with oxygen that we so truly need–is a constant reminder of the peace God wants us to find in the Resurrection.
I’m comfortable with assuming that you breathe on a regular basis. So, I encourage you to add to that experience. Whether Meditation is your thing, or the movement of Yoga brings you to that point of centeredness, allow your breath to be transformative. Allow your breath to be that bridge between you and God.