Tonight our parish is having Yoga on the Lawn. This was an event we tried last year and loved, and so we decided to get outdoors again this year. Though I am not always consistent in my practice, yoga has been a formative part of my health and spirituality. Some may wonder whether yoga and Christianity can go together, but I found a link very early in life. A priest at the Cathedral in Delaware was a yoga instructor, and I remember how his language completely transformed my experience. Instead of bowing to the “light” in one another when we said, “Namaste,” this priest would have us bow to the “Christ” in one another. Suddenly, my enjoyment of yoga made a lot more sense.
Having just preached on Luke’s version of the Lord’s Prayer this past Sunday, I find the practice of yoga fortuitous tonight. Prayer is one of those things that we all struggle with, and in many ways, the challenges in yoga are very similar. When practicing yoga, I have sometimes found that it took me the entire class to finally clear my head and just be present with my practice. Our prayer life can be like that too. We can be “praying” for quite some time before we are actually engaged in the prayer or listening for God. We are very good at filling silence when it comes to our prayer life.
Our entering into yoga with a longing for connection to God can be much the disciples’ longing for Jesus to teach them to pray. The first step is showing up. The next step is committing to being present. And the final step is keeping a forgiving heart that can quietly let intrusive thoughts go when they interrupt us. In yoga, as in prayer, we work to clear the way for God. The rest happens in spite of us. Namaste.