Yoga is a relatively new practice for me. During Lent this year, I decided to take up, instead of give up, something that would be a little risky and scary with long-term benefits. When I go to the place where I have practiced since February, there is no talking. The few lights are low and candle-like against the darkly painted walls and black ceiling. I lie in stillness, opening to God’s presence physically as I settle on the mat with my heart at the highest point and mindfully as I meditate on a word or phrase that holds my intention in worship for that day. As I centered my mind to begin a “hot” yoga class yesterday, some of that old fear surfaced so the “meditative thoughts” were a bit different. “I can do this—I can endure this—God has given me an incredible body and mind and spirit.” I practice yoga regularly but not in a room with this high heat and humidity. So it is not only the practice, the actual doing that is challenging for me, but the salty sweat burning my eyes and running down my body that forces me to concentrate not on my outward circumstances but inwardly. I pay attention to my movement and breath and center my mind sometimes on a spot on the wall to make it.
That moment before class transformed my thinking to practically disrupt the dichotomy of mind/body and physical/intellectual work that I often struggle with. I enjoy thinking deeply about words and the world, part of my professional life as an academic, but the kind of thinking that often seems consciously selfish to me. The joy of that moment in yoga was the realization that my determination that merges my thinking, feeling and doing self was good. God made me so that my mind that I let roam and second-guess relentlessly can actually work in connection with my body and spirit to focus on good. My mindful concentration, determination, and physical body work together in God’s creative presence. God did wonderfully made my mind— my mind that is attentive and thankful for strength of mind and body.