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Yogis in the mist

Today was a classic case of turning lemons into lemonade. What had at first seemed like a potential inconvenience became a blessing. Read more

A little honesty from the back row of yoga class

I returned to yoga class this week after a long hiatus, and while it was sooooo good to be back on my mat, it wasn’t without its challenges. But probably not the challenges you would expect. When it comes to my Y-based yoga classes, my struggles have less to do with balancing and strength poses and more to do with other people. I know, that’s probably not something I’m supposed to admit when I’m trying to reach some higher level of spiritual development, but I think a little honesty is a more direct route to that spiritual place than total denial and the inner wailing and gnashing of teeth. If you’ve ever taken a yoga class, I guarantee you know what I mean. Hear me out… Read more

More wisdom lessons: Embracing ‘what is’

I almost didn’t go to yoga class this morning. I was awake at 5 a.m. but my body felt worn out, more so than usual. I wanted to “sleep in” until 6:15, except I couldn’t sleep. So I figured, if I’m not going to sleep, I might as well do yoga. And off I went. Read more

Finding patience on the mat — and off

I always get to the 5:45 a.m. yoga class at least 10 minutes early, better to settle in and spend a little time in silence before the studio fills up. Today was no different, at least not at first. I stretched a bit before closing my eyes and taking up half-lotus, patiently waiting for our teacher to arrive. Soon. Shortly. Any minute now…. Read more

Praying in the company of Brother Sun, Sister Moon

Earlier today, I was out in our sun porch doing some gentle yoga in hopes of loosening up a nagging back muscle problem. As I stretched upward to begin a basic sun salutation, I realized I was looking up at my beautiful clay crescent moon, given to me by a good friend many years ago. Then later, as I turned to do a warrior pose, I noticed the clay sun hanging directly opposite. Suddenly all felt right with the world on this Feast of St. Francis of Assisi.
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The space between fear and trust

This morning I returned to my beloved early morning yoga class after a very long hiatus due to a physical condition/injury. I won’t bore you with details. Suffice to say, I had and will have for the rest of my life a situation that prevents me from fully doing yoga the way I like to do it.

I was supposed to be starting 200-hour yoga teacher training this month. Instead, my favorite yoga teacher is recommending I learn to be satisfied with taking classes in “chair yoga” and “water yoga.” I’m not good at being satisfied with what I view as “less than,” but perhaps therein lies the lesson. Another thing I really don’t want to hear. Read more

Where the ‘Amen’ meets the ‘Om’

This essay originally appeared at the Catholic portal of Patheos.com.

By Mary DeTurris Poust

When I took my first yoga class more than thirty years ago, I was in a bit of a crisis in terms of the Catholic faith of my birth. My mother had recently died and I had moved out of my family home and across the country. I was searching in so many ways and came upon yoga through a friend who knew a teacher who held classes in her home. There, on a mat in an empty living room, I learned how to stretch and settle my body in new ways, ways that allowed me to more easily enter a spiritual realm that has always beckoned to me. Read more

Skip resolutions. Go for ‘goals’ instead.

What new routines have you vowed to start and keep this year? A healthy eating plan? Exercise regimen? House re-organization effort? The new year offers the promise of a clean slate, a chance to begin again or try for the first time something that will improve our health, our home, our world.

I tend not to make typical resolutions, but I know plenty of people do. Every year, when the first week of January hits, our YMCA becomes a bit of a zoo. You can’t find a free treadmill or weight machine no matter what odd hour of the day you show up. I asked a trainer once, “How long will this go on?” He said, “Hang in there until the end of February and they’ll all be gone.” Read more

Picking up scattered fragments of peace

When I returned from my wonderful weekend retreat almost three weeks ago, the sense of peace surrounding my heart and penetrating my soul was almost palpable…

unflappable…

Kids did dopey things. I didn’t yell. Work deadlines went from bad to worse. I didn’t melt. The car bumper was bashed in by a hit-and-run meanie. I didn’t explode.

It was clear evidence, at least in my mind, of the power of deep and intense prayer practiced over days, rather than short bursts of desperate cries shouted heavenward while sitting at stoplights or wiping the counter.

In the initial days after my retreat, I kept up some semblance of deep prayer and deep peace. I cleared the decks and sat down in silent meditation in my sacred space. I did yoga followed by more prayer. I got up early and prayed the Liturgy of the Hours in the twinkling glow of the Christmas tree set against a backdrop of winter darkness. I was on a holy roll.

But then bit by bit, day by day, the peace started to fragment…

I could almost see it happening.

Sharp shards of silence breaking off and flying away from me in every direction.

I knew enough to realize it was an unhappy development but felt powerless to stop it. The tension of the season, coupled with the crush of work, compounded by the frenzy of family life made me — as it often does — feel as if I should just wave my spiritual white flag and give up my quest for inner peace. Add my voice to the din.

Then I remembered something our teacher said on retreat, something that really jumped out at me as I sat cross-legged on the floor of the yoga studio at Kripalu. So often, when we think of Jesus in prayer, we think of him in the desert, in the garden, in silent solitude. But the truth is, Father Tom reminded us, that Jesus was more often than not surrounded by chaos — people clamoring to get near him, touch his robe, lower a friend through a roof, climb a tree.

Follow, follow, follow. Ask, ask, ask.

And yet we see the way his peace and prayerfulness emerge amid the chaos. The quiet compassion given to the woman caught in adultery, the feeding of the 5,000, the healing of a soldier’s servant, the forgiveness of a thief from the cross. Jesus did not become unloving, harsh and impatient because the conditions around him went from good to bad to abominable. He stayed true to his center, his Truth, bringing his peace into the noise and glare of an often unkind world.

Rather than letting it happen the other way around…

So as we wait just two more days to celebrate the birth of the Prince of Peace, as I look at the absolute insanity that is sure to ensue in the coming hours, I’m picking up the scattered fragments of peace and fashioning them into something usable, something new. I imagine my peace looks a bit like a kaleidoscope now.

Pieces of peace…artfully arranged into something that will cast a brilliant and warm light on everything its shooting and darting rays touch as I turn it gently in my hands.

Chaos into calm. Panic into peace. Fragments into fullness.

All through him, who was…and is…and is to come.