Extra Grace Required Blog Post - Components of a Faith-based Yoga Practice
April 18, 2017
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I had lunch recently with a busy working mom who had very kind words to say about the book. Specifically, she praised an aspect of the weekly devotions that I hadn’t considered: their brevity. She confided that she and her friends don’t have time to go to an hour-long yoga class, but long for and need the calm and affirmation of faith that she found in the devotions. In response to my friend's needs, here is an outline (below) describing the basic components of a faith-based yoga practice that is easily scaled for practices ranging from as little as ten minutes to an hour or longer. The practice components are derived from the eight limbs of yoga as described in the classic yoga sutras of Patanjali. This one is for you Katie!
Components of a Faith-based Yoga Practice
Be Present Practice Presence. Give yourself permission to be fully present during your practice. Set a timer if needed. Even if you can only practice for ten minutes, imagine putting your cares and “to do’s” away for a time, perhaps inside of an imaginary cupboard. Assure yourself that you may return to them when you are done practicing.
Breathe Practice Breath. Encourage your mind to focus by following several cycles of breath. Watch yourself inhale and exhale as you slow, deepen, and lengthen your breath. During practice, whenever your mind starts to wander, gently bring it back to the present by returning your attention to your breath.
Sacred Text Practice Devotion. Read a short passage from sacred text or wisdom literature. As in lectio divina, chant or repeat the text aloud. Let the words speak to you.
Reflect Practice Self-study. Reflect on the truth in the sacred text for insight into your life today, in this world.
Embody Prayer Practice Breath-centered Movement. Choose a few yoga poses to practice inspired by your current needs; let your breath move you through the yoga shapes in comfort and ease, respecting your body’s wisdom as you embody your prayer.
Rest Practice Sabbath. After completing asana, rest in savasana or a restorative pose, even if just for a couple minutes—a mini-Sabbath on your mat. Allow both your body and mind to soften into rest.
Meditate Practice Stillness. Sit up tall and use mantra or centering prayer to find your sacred center, open your heart, and listen for the Spirit. Rather than be frustrated when a thought intrudes, consider it an opportunity to release and return once again to the Creator. Enjoy the spaciousness and serenity of the eternal I AM when it occurs, no matter how briefly. Know that you are a beloved child of God.