july | 2011
Finding the Balance
“Be still and know that I am God.” -Ps. 46:10
by leigh K. thomas
I was getting ready to go to my first ever yoga class, thanks to a Groupon deal that included an hour-long massage (I’m in!) Since best friends would never laugh at you, only with you, I welcomed Ashley’s moral support, as she shared my hopes that we would not in fact make complete fools of ourselves. I think we chose wisely in opting out of the more fast-paced class session; rather we stuck with the “slowga” option. After situating ourselves with our mats, blankets, blocks, and ropes, we inhaled and exhaled several times, as instructed, while listening to an intro about some
Sanskrit term that meant to release and surrender your inner self, etc. etc. We even got to sit pretzel-style and chant “Ohhhmmms.” I felt a little like Julia Roberts in Eat Pray Love--.all I needed was my own personal glowing aura and a conveniently placed fan.
For an hour and fifteen minutes we stretched our bodies into all sorts of Gumby positions that were supposed to help us center ourselves. If we weren’t centered, the instructor would come around and straighten us out, meanwhile never abandoning her lulling, drawn out audiobook voice. The cobra pose was a popular one, along with the rocking boat and tree stance. We did little routines, which included reclining our bodes in a lunge-like position while keeping one foot at a 45 degree angle and the other parallel to
Finding the Balance july | 2011
the wall, then shifting our left knee weight back while stretching our right arm up in the air, then swooping it down and threading the needle, followed by resting the back of our hand on our thigh and breathing in and out because we are light as feathers. And the whole time I just kept thinking, I might as well be playing Twister. “Left foot, yellow! Okay, right hand on red! Now breathe, deeper this time. We’re letting go, we’re finding ourselves.” Now, I admit part of me clearly wasn’t taking this yoga stuff seriously. But that’s mainly because the part of me that was trying couldn’t seem to stay in line and up to par with everybody else. I was working so hard to match my row and make sure my palms were the right distance apart and my toes were curled under and my shoulders were aligned with my hips and my back wasn’t too arched and my breathing was even and my form looked like everyone else’s—I think somewhere in there the part about finding my balance got stuck beneath my yoga mat. So, even though I appreciated the endorphins after the class was over—I felt good and even better with my free massage coupon in my hand—I don’t know that it will ever be possible for me to feel relaxed while standing on one foot and stretching my arms over my head as though searching for lost phone reception. But give me a book, some tea, and maybe throw in a cat, and I guarantee you I will feel perfectly balanced. Recommended Read:
Intruding Upon the Timeless: Meditations on Art, Faith, and Mystery by Gregory Wolfe
Why is it so easy to overwhelm ourselves with culture, busy schedules, and white noise that cover up our quiet plea to be still and know?
Perhaps it was the yoga hippie talk that got me feeling extra reflective, but some time later I found myself wondering why I so often struggled to find that center--maybe not in Sanskrit terms, but in personal and spiritual terms. Why is it so easy to overwhelm ourselves with culture, busy schedules, and white noise that cover up our quiet plea to be still and know? (Ps. 46:10) While we can’t escape our daily demands entirely, there must be a way we can take stock of who we are, what we need to get closer to that elusive balance, and how we can begin to get there. I realize yoga is intended to help with this very goal, and while it doesn’t work for me, maybe for you, that’s the ticket. You know what it is that restores you. The trick is, of course, making time for that restoration to take place. I think sometimes I tend to equate down-time with guilt, as if I should be going full speed ahead instead. But often times, choosing to take a few moments to replenish your self and your spirit can in fact be worship. It may be counter-cultural, but we need to slow down and honor our bodies--they’re our temples, and they’re the only ones we’ve got.