Why I Force Myself To Do Yoga

“Four seconds in, four seconds out…” 

“Good. Five deep, full, breaths…” 

“For these last two breaths I want you to focus on holding the pose, no fidgeting, no adjusting, just breathe into it…” 

It is the same every time. I hear the soothing voice of my yoga instructor and will myself to stand there, holding the pose, focusing all of my attention on the task at hand. Inevitably by the exhale portion of the second breath, I’ve lost my focus.

My mind begins to wander and I remind myself to return to the “intentions” I set at the start of class.

Be present. 

Give myself grace. 

I find that the first requires the latter.

Occasionally I dream of a reality where I am the zen, flexible and fit yogi. Now, of course, I fully recognize that my current commitment to the practice and overzealous and distractable personality impede this dream a fair amount. But yet, I force myself to return to yoga again, and again.

I’m not good at yoga. 

If you attended class with me you might think that I am good at yoga. I attempt all the poses, I am somewhat balanced, I can do a headstand and that full bind thing we do, but I’m not good at yoga. You may find me at a 6am yoga class and I may be fooling you. Don’t be fooled.

I’m not good at yoga because I try to win yoga. 

You can’t win yoga. I like activity that has a clear, attainable goal – running, weight lifting, volleyball, football, hiking, Circuit Blast or Body Pump Classes… you get the picture. Almost all other physical feats affirm that broken part of my identify that longs to be the best and strives to put off an air of proficiency and strength. Not yoga.

I’m learning that yoga is more about truly connecting than it is about performing. It’s slowing your breath in order to open up your body in a way that is uncomfortable on several levels. It’s easing into a challenge and working up to the grandiose and showy postures. It requires patience and delayed gratification. Yoga is slow in a world where speed rules all.

Yoga disrupts my desire to produce and instead offers me the opportunity to find stillness. It’s not my favorite.

But I force myself to return none the less. When I am tempted to choose sleep, I drag myself out of my warm bed because I know it’s important to put myself in a position of discomfort.  When I feel the urge to choose a more “tangible” workout, I walk into the Y, yoga mat in hand because I know that the parts of me that choose productivity, chaos, and busy, are not the parts that make my heart come alive. Those parts are not what I want to be known for.

I long to be present. I long to be where I am both mentally and physically. I long to communicate attention and love in my most valuable relationships. I want to always love where I am, without feeling the guilt of where I am not.

So, I force myself to do yoga, because it is one small step in practicing and living out my values.


Where I turn when the world is heavy

One of my favorite things about marriage is having a buddy to take on life with. I love that as the waves rise around me, and my body tenses, I get to reach out and find someone bracing to swim alongside me. Much of our first almost two years of marriage has required a far amount of this companionship. I would not change it for the world. It’s beautiful and Biblical.

But at the beginning of creation God ‘made them male and female.’ ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. So they are no longer two, but one flesh.  Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” -Mark 10: 6-9

Sound familiar? (hint, it’s the name of our blog and the words tattooed on our wrists.)

However, I have a tendency to err on the wrong side of that equation. I negate the “what GOD has joined together,” part. My bend is to call on my husband first when my world feels heavy. There is so much beauty in that. He is a safe place for me. He is the one who often catches my tears, and reminds me what is true, and together we take it to God. Sometimes the Lord is whispering to me, urging me to bring the heaviness to Him, but I refuse. Sometimes he urges, and I listen. I’m always glad when I do.

What a weird paradox it is. There are so many beautiful intricacies of marriage that allow us to experience the character and essence of God to a greater depth. But our flesh so often allows that beauty to be twisted and we miss the point.

And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken -Ecc. 4:12

The point is that we’re stronger when we involve Him. I am stronger when I seek His will first. (Matthew 6:33). I am a better wife, help-meet, friend, daughter, employee, sister, etc. when I seek His face, His truth, His presence, instead of asking someone else to fill that void. My husband is a wise, humble and tender man. I picked him very intentionally, but his finite wisdom is sourced in the Lover of My Soul. Sometimes I forget that. 

Yesterday my world was heavy. I had one of those days where you see just one too many broken parts of the world. My job often has me on a see-saw finding the balance between redemption and hope, and brokenness and pain. It was one of those days, the scorecard I was seeing showed the other guys winning. My heart hurt, and the tears were on the cusp of spilling as a I felt the weight of it in my office. I began to hear familiar whispers:

[My beloved speaks and says to me: “Arise, my love, my beautiful one, and come away.] -Song of Songs 2:10

[Therefore I am now going to allure her; I will lead her into the wilderness and speak tenderly to her.] -Hosea 2:14

I chose to ignore Him.

As I got in my car to drive home, I thought, “Maybe I’ll have a quiet time when I get home,” and I grabbed my phone to call Paul. As my phone began to dial I heard another whisper, [stop.]

I stopped.

[Why wait until you get home? You have an entire drive home. Talk to me.]

This is not what I wanted. I wanted to talk to my husband and let the tears I’d been holding finally fall. But I reluctantly agreed to drive home, no radio, and be.

Paul called me and I informed him that God told me I needed to talk with Him before talking to Paul and I was listening. My sweet husband responded, “Well okay. I’ll talk to you about it when you got home.”

The world did not drastically shift as I drove home half yelling and half whining to the Lord. I didn’t find the answer to my questions. I didn’t even really find resolve to the pain that my eyes were seeing all around.

Instead I began singing. (so glad that I was alone in the car!)

I don’t need all the details aligned.

I just need to hear that it’s going to be alright.

The world is heavy. My bent is to find a tangible place to find comfort. Sometimes when I listen to the One who breathed and sang me into existence, I find the peace that surpasses all understanding.

And He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.”

And He who sits on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” And He said, “Write, for these words are faithful and true.”

-Revelations 21:4-5