Monday, April 15, 2013

Holy Yoga, Batman!

I spent last week at an intense yoga retreat. Intense and yoga should not be used in the same sentence. In fact that entire sentence is an oxymoron.

You're probably thinking, "Oh wah! A yoga retreat? Quit complaining!" But bear with me, please.

The "retreat" (and I use that term very loosely) was a week-long intensive training to complete my certification as a Registered Holy Yoga Instructor. I was at this so-called retreat with about 50 other people, from all over the country, who were also completing their yoga training. It was an amazing time of worship, bonding and stretching; and a crash course in getting to know the muscles in my body that had apparently been on vacation on a tropical beach for the past few years. 

Did I mention that we were stretched?

There was very little rest or relaxation involved in this - we were up early and on our yoga mats by 7 am. Yes, you read that correctly. For those of you who don't know me well, the very idea of being anywhere but in my bed at 7 am is anathema to me!! Especially before 3 cups of coffee and breakfast. So you can imagine what was going through my head as we began to stretch and move at that absurd hour: "These people are trying to kill me!"

On the second day, the morning yoga hour was followed by breakfast, then a very full schedule of workshops on yoga poses, lectures on anatomy, a light lunch and some Bible study thrown in for good measure. After dinner we got to hit the mat once more for something called "Power Yoga." I have no idea who came up with that idea, but they obviously have an affinity for torture. This confirmed my initial suspicions.

By the third day, my butt was so sore it was actually numb. This was from sitting on my yoga mat while listening to those previously mentioned lectures and workshops for three days. And then I got a cramp. In my right butt cheek. Not in the usual gluteous maximus butt cheek muscle, but somewhere deeper...somewhere mysterious and terrifying. Somewhere where no muscle should even be, let alone one with a cramp. So, that was fun.

On Friday we had to design a short Holy Yoga class of our own to teach to our fellow yogis-in-training. This was actually fun and challenging, because we could show our "class" how to get into specific yoga poses and connect a worshipful experience to the poses. My class became experts at breathing deeply while in Corpse Pose. After 10 minutes of that however, it was suggested that I teach them something a bit more vigorous.

By Saturday I didn't want to go home. I was having so much fun! I was enjoying the fellowship and worship experience that is Holy Yoga, and I was really getting into the physical challenge of yoga! Who knew? 

I never expected God to show up on my yoga mat (at an absurdly early hour) and teach me something about myself. After all, I'm 49 - I'm in the "middle" of my life, and I figured I must know myself pretty well by now. Ha!

I learned that getting up early and working out before breakfast did not kill me.
I learned that what doesn't kill me actually does make me stronger!
I learned that I shouldn't say "I can't."
I learned that excuses are just that...excuses.
I learned that I am much more flexible that I gave myself credit for.
I learned that I can S T R E T C H. In more ways than one.
I learned that even if I am physically unable to get into Lotus pose, that's OK. I never wanted to do that one  anyway.

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