Gratitude Practice…

Today, on my yoga mat I practiced.

I love the way my instructor refers to my class as a practice.

It is not a performance; there are no comparisons allowed; we are not to get frustrated when we fall out of a pose; we are to honour our bodies; listen to them; tune in; and above all…to be kind.

“Love our neighbours as ourselves.” (Mark 12:31) (emphasis mine).

My life is a performance, not even a dress rehearsal.  Every moment counts, the effort, the commitment the energy.  No half-hearted attempts for this child of God.

If I mess up I am finished.  But not on my yoga mat, here I am told to smile if I wobble for wobbling builds strength.

I am practicing.  I have nowhere to go, no expectations.  I sit, I breathe, I try out poses, I breathe, I twist, I breathe.

Yoga is all about the breath.

Today I practiced for those calm and safe moments of my life and for the difficult moments in my life, the pain, the discomfort, the great intensity.

I practiced poses that were challenging, not the kind of shapes I would throw during the normal course of a day.  A balance on one leg, a twist, crow, pigeon or a forward fold.   The amazing property of these poses is their ability to make the breathing laboured thus bringing it to the forefront of my consciousness.

Yes, somehow or other I had forgotten all about my breathing.  Good thing it’s reflexive.

This is good, learning how to take deep cleansing breaths is tantamount for the calm interior life.

This morning I realized that by training myself to continue to breathe slowly and steadily, through my nose, while I was holding my physical self in an impossible position, had the potential to help me later when my internal self decided it too was in an impossible position.

The practice today was called a Gratitude Practice.

As a practicing Christian I make an effort each morning or evening to draw my attention to the world around me.  I find ordinary things to be grateful for, the air on my skin, the sun shining through my smeary windows, the bright moon or the crisp evening sky.  In yoga I am reminded to notice my breath, as it flows over the back of my throat, it took me many months to isolate and feel this flow of air.  Amazing isn’t it?  Such an essential part of my being and yet I take it for granted.  I shouldn’t, as a recovering asthmatic, I know only too well how the absence of breath in my body feels.  But still it took me a long time to notice the gentle brush of air inside my nostrils on its way to my lungs.

Before I start my practice I am told to drop into my inner gaze, check on my heart, become aware of my internal existence.  This is the practice of contemplation, a searching for the Imago Dei.

I listen with the inner ear of my heart as St. Benedict instructs.  Allow the love and compassion we experience percolate into our awareness.

From here I notice I can sink deeper into the image of God, my great supporter and helper.  I settle into His arms on my yoga mat, focus on His presence and let Him become my inspiration.

At the end of my practice I lie quietly, dropping in again, I have been on a journey with my body and I need to surrender to that place of gratitude I found at the beginning.  I started with a prayer of gratitude, I will end with one.

I am grateful for the opportunity to nourish myself, to be given the implements to live my  dreams and manifest my life by being the type of person I desire to be.

One thing about life is there is no  first draft.  The only practice is in the yoga.

Today I have practiced for those calm and safe moments of my life and for the difficult moments in my life, the pain, the discomfort, the great intensity.

If I am able to hold my practice where I can see a light, any light, in a situation, it will be profoundly rewarding and change the physiology of my body.  I am told I can grow in these times.

Always feel the breath.


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