Yoga Teaches the Connection between Physical and Spiritual
The practice of yoga has made an impact on my understanding of the connection between mind and body. Love it or hate, think it’s cooky or “far out” – no matter what you think of yoga, a good instructor teaches you to engage the mind and the body.
In yoga, you set an intention for your practice. Sometimes the instructor will talk a bit and give a suggestion. Today, in my class, our instructor was talking about our power to choose. We can choose to be active and engage in the flow of our lives; we can choose how life affects us – even the stuff we cannot control. It’s our choice.
Then, as the physical practice of yoga begins, you set that intention before you as you work in the physical space. Today, I set my intention based on a verse I had just read in Psalm 40: God is my help. As I worked my way into poses that after a year of being absent from a yoga class felt foreign, I focused on my intention. When it was hard to hold a pose or I felt tired, I moved my mind to my mantra for the day: God is my help.
As I work physically in the class to build strength, flexibility and balance, I am also connecting to something non-physical – mainly an intention, idea or prayer. In this way, the practice of yoga has taught me a tangible way to connect my body, mind and spirit. The physical movements of yoga become a prayer…a prayer that changes depending on the difficulty of the pose. Today, God was my helper when I was struggling and tired, but I was reminded that he is also my helper when things come easily and I am at rest.
Learning to connect the physical and the spiritual takes some practice. That’s why I love yoga – I get to practice it every week. But there are other ways to engage the physical with the non-physical realm: praying before meals, breath prayers, keeping a running list of gratitude throughout the day, lighting an advent candle…to name a few. Sometimes it’s the physical act that can stir a deep prayer inside us…sometimes its the prayers themselves that move us into action. Both sides to the coin are important as we live this spiritual life in a physical body.
In what ways do you practice the connection between the physical and the spiritual?