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 The greatest thing we can do is to show up for our lives and not be ashamed.

 -Anne Lamott


I'm a creature of the word, learning to tell my honest story.

I offer it here because telling stories is the road back home.

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half a pigeon

Dear friend,

I had a crazy experience in yoga class the other morning.

We moved into Half Pigeon, and as I stretched one bent leg in front of me, and one straight leg behind me (visualize a figure four), our teacher said, "Half Pigeon is a great hip-opener. Don't be surprised if you find yourself overcome by emotion in this position. We often store emotion in our hips, and this position can help that emotion come to the surface."

I laid there, feeling nothing...until I felt everything.


Sobs from nowhere caught in my throat, and a profound grief overcame me. For the final five minutes of class, I could barely move for the ache in my heart.

I laid with it, in corpse pose, stretched out along the floor for the final breaths of class, asking the Holy Spirit to bring revelation, to help me know where this came from, but nothing came to mind.


It wasn't until I was walking out of the studio, when the yoga teacher said, "Bye Trinity," with such compassion in her voice, and a tender look on her face, that I really began to cry. I cried all the way home, and I felt it deep inside me- a knowing that my grief was blocked pain over a tough conversation with a friend.  

During the conversation, I hadn't really felt anything. I was intellectually present, but surprised even myself over my lack of emotion at her hard news that she needed space in our friendship, and would call me in a couple weeks after she'd dealt with some things with the Lord.


I'd stuffed my grief; and added a layer of competency and bounce-back-ness to my real self, in order to cope.

The discipline of yoga allowed my unconscious experience of grief to rise to the surface; I acknowledged it, felt it (even though it hurt like hell), and cried and cried, and then I talked about it with my hubbins and with God; I wrote about it a little, and...I can't even say I moved on. Because I didn't. I just let myself feel what I felt.

And therein lies the stripping and the healing.


This is why yoga has become so essential to my healing process. It's the most contemplative practice I have ever engaged in in my thirty-two years of living.

It's one solid hour where I don't multi-task, where I don't speak, where I don't analyze anything; all I do is breathe and move and follow the directions of the instructor ( "in him I live and move and have my being..." God's description of the good life sounds remarkably like yoga).

I've only been practicing for two consecutive months, but I've been reminded of a favorite Bible verse ( I read this verse at my wedding) that links in with my yoga experience:

But you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to grasp,

together with all the saints,

how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ,

and to know this love that surpasses knowledge.

-Ephesians 3:17-18


YOGA grounds me into love. It is root and branch, grasp and release. Me accepting my finite humanity, and somehow transcending it each class.


YOGA means to YOKE. 

"Together with all the saints"- it yokes me with community, and back to myself.

I have, at various times in my life, usually when I am mad at my hubbins, blasted him with the high and holy comment that I shouldn't need him for anything, that God should be my sufficiency and supply everything I need in this life, and, in the reedy voice of the martyr, I say, "I will just ask God to meet my needs."  

Who can argue with this noble spirituality? With this passive aggressive attempt at making my hubbins feel guilty for not meeting my needs?


And what bunk.

The idea that we shouldn't need anybody on this earth, that we should only look to Jesus to meet our needs...is totally contradictory of Jesus' words that where two or three are gathered in His name, there he is; that he puts the lonely in families; it contradicts his description of the church as a body, with each member vital to the vitality of the whole; it contradicts his very life where he daily walked with twelve, and intimately walked with three; it contradicts the Trinity- this mystery union where Jesus and the Father and the Spirit move in tandem.

People are the fleshy heaving body and the pumping real red blood of Jesus. 

I fall more in love with Jesus as I fall more in love with my husband. I fall more in love with Jesus as I experience the deep compassion and understanding of a friend.

I learn Jesus through his people.

I begin to comprehend the heighth and width and depth and breadth of his love.


I yoke to those around me because the fellowship happens in walking out the daily road with someone, in consistency and plodding. In the 5 am alarm, and the stumbling in to the studio with our mats and our water bottles and our towels.

In the fact that when one person in class has serious body odor, I always think it's me with the smelly armpits.


On the day of the half pigeon, I yoked with myself in the high, long, wide, and deep of it.

 It's been two months, and little things I didn't know about myself rise to the surface. My facets start to sharpen; the little nuances: I want a nose ring. I want bangs. I like wearing flowy, non-structured clothes. Not cotton. Not all one color. I like round toe shoes, short boots, skinny jeans. I like the cuffs of my shirts to cover half my hands. I like drinking green tea all day long.  Thai Kitchen instant soups are my comfort food.


And the deep things, the long hidden, well up within me as well.


One morning, we focus on discovering what kind of warrior we are.

Our teacher says, "The seat of identity is the strength of the core. In this tension, is the power of the warrior who may be fierce or gentle or humble. Maybe you are fierce one day, humble the next.  Pay attention to your core."

After birthing four children, my core is cottage-cheesy, and yet...we move into elephant pose and suddenly, body awareness kicks in: this is how I birthed my last 2 babies, like a momma elephant.

I am fierce warrior. And when I move into humble warrior pose, I almost always lose my balance- take it for what you will.

It is not a discovery as much as an uncovering of what was always there.


Yoga is the peace of contradictions.

It is the "knowing of this love that surpasses knowledge."


Can I make peace with knowing what I do not know?

With, as T.S. Eliot says,

“To arrive where you are, to get from where you are not,
You must go by a way wherein there is no ecstasy.
In order to arrive at what you do not know
You must go by a way which is the way of ignorance.
In order to possess what you do not possess
You must go by the way of dispossession.
In order to arrive at what you are not
You must go through the way in which you are not.
And what you do not know is the only thing you know
And what you own is what you do not own
And where you are is where you are not.”


It's not about me. And yet it is certainly about me.

As I boast in my weakness, God is made strong.

And so am I. And so are those who hear my story.

Because vulnerability is strength.


As freedom is the yoking of myself to myself, and to my community.

As wholeness comes through brokenness.


The healing comes when we allow for the pain.

The beauty comes when we allow for the ashy burn.

The victory comes when we allow for surrender.




Reader Comments (1)

I love this. Yoga is like contemplative prayer for me.... I move into a place where I can be still long enough to not just hear His voice, but feel His voice, His presence, His peace. So glad you are practicing that presence and listening to Him as He speaks into your very cells. And God bless your perceptive teacher!

The healing comes when we allow for the pain.- yep. You're learning. I'm learning. It's good.

December 8, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKathryn

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