Yoga Practice as a Prayer
My husband and myself attend Black Mountain Presbyterian Church in our home town – Just happens to be across the street from our yoga studio, Black Mountain Yoga and our clinic, Rachman Clinic. It’s a progressive and very mindful congregation and we love the community and communion of going deeper with God/spirit/higher Self… Many names, for some of us the same thing.
With the season of Easter and specifically, advent we were recently asked via email from the associate pastor, “what keeps you connected to God? And, “What draws you closer to yourself and to God?”
I responded to the email which is unlike me as I am usually filled with other obligations that need more of my attention than responding to a group email. This one however, spiked my interest and I was compelled to share my experience; it hit home immediately and I had a truthful non-contemplative answer and it was this:
Just like lots of us I assume, if we fall out of the practice of prayer or if life is just going great without giving gratitude or or reverence or recognition, we can easily forget the presence of spirit and how powerful being in spiritual practice is. It seems to me that in times like these the “ball drops” or a challenge arises in order for me to remember that relationship and engage with the wisdom and humility of getting back on track; or so I’ve chalked it up as that reason. For me, its as if spirit is checking in, knocking at my heart and soul asking if I have forgotten this divine interaction.
The way I stay connected and draw closer to this force is my yoga practice. While I practice poses, breath, and stillness… I pray. This isn’t a prayer of neediness and it doesn’t have a sound or start out with, “God…” but quite the opposite. In fact, for the prayers of need, I light a candle and place that type of prayer at the alter before the physical act of doing yoga (poses and breath work). Placing the needs at my alter bowing in reverence and request allows me to let-go of those things that may alter the authentic experience of being present and tapping in to the real nectar found at the core of me.
The prayers found on my mat are usually “Thank You!” and sometimes a prayer of, “Ahhh!” and maybe even a great awakening prayer of “Ah-Ha!” (I just love that one!)
As I begin my yoga practice, I start by finding my breath, feeling my body through my breath and inner awareness. Immediately, I sense the deep presence of “God.”
As I go deeper into the practice, I feel that my breath and being in my body at the same time truly invoke a state of sublime conscious awareness of my many blessings (even when the blessings have felt or seemed few). I feel grateful from what feels like organs to skin – but I know its beyond the physical as I feel waves of energy pulsing through and around me.
I am bestowed grace and gratitude for my life and my every experience that has brought me to this place. I experience this sensation for most of my conscious practice.
If I start thinking of anything else during this experience I am soon reminded that I have removed myself from this deep spiritual invocation and therefore, drop into a deeper breath, find my feet if standing (or other limbs that are connected to my mat) for re-connection to the earth and to the much-greater-than we can easily describe, but refer to frequently as, “God.”
Aside of my physical and spiritual act of hatha or raja yoga, another helpful tool for me is every morning before my eyes open or very soon after I say, “Thank you!” and that supports my waking and first perceptions —as well, connects me immediately to the spirit that has moved the earth so perfectly that the sun now shines into my very eyes.
Once our associate pastor read my email, he responded quickly requesting that I share my response to him with the 200+ member congregation on Sunday morning. I agreed to do it.
I hope your yoga practice is doing the same or greater for you. I hope you will rise to the light in your heart and the light in your eyes and simply say “thank you” for a prayer of connection; perhaps that is all that is needed for your “Ahhh” or “Ah-ha”.
In Love, Spirit & Yoga,