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Spirit, soul and yoga
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“May God himself, the God who makes everything holy and whole, make you holy and whole, put you together—spirit, soul, and body—and keep you fit for the coming of our Master, Jesus Christ.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:23 (Msg)
I have never tried yoga.  I’ve heard about it, read a little about it, know people who enjoy it but I myself have never taken a yoga class, thus have never fully understood the fascination..  To be honest, I’ve never been thoroughly convinced that body positions with the name of bridge, cobra, or corpse could help me.   As a matter of fact, while I’m admitting things here, whenever the subject of yoga has come up, I tend to get a mental picture of someone twisting uncomfortably like a pretzel while trying to display some sign of stability and peace during class-time only to become completely unglued and bounce off the walls emotionally the moment class is over. All of which has caused me to think that yoga wasn’t really worth trying.  I know, I know, pretty snotty thinking for a sweet little gal like me right?

Whatever no-point-to-trying-yoga thoughts I may have had in the past have recently been replaced with a I-can’t-wait-to-try-this attitude ever since I observed yoga instructor Michele Flores, standing in line at the Italian Deli where I work.  

It was a few days before Christmas and pasta lovers were coming out of the wood-work to order gallons of raviolis, tortellini, spaghetti, meatballs and more for their holiday parties.  Who knew that pasta was so important to people during the holidays!   

On this particular busy afternoon the line of anxious customers waiting to place their orders was growing quickly.  I happened to notice Flores waiting ever so patiently at the end of the long line.  I didn’t know her personally but I had seen her around town and knew she taught yoga in the community.  I felt bad that she had to wait so long as each customer before her seemed to have a special need to their order which naturally took extra time.  As the line of customers inched along at a snail’s pace, I started to wonder at what point Flores might just roll her eyes, throw her hands in the air and mumble that no amount of tasty pasta was worth waiting that long for.

After what seemed like forever, Flores finally made it to the counter.  When I asked how I could help her, I expected her to blurt out her order in a sick-and-tired-of-being-here-tone but instead she gave me a genuinely graceful smile and calmly asked, “May I have two quarts of raviolis please?”

I couldn’t believe it!  She was so calm, so nice, so easy going, so NOT like someone who had just been waiting in line forever.   If it had been me, I’m pretty sure I would have copped a “tude” and had a tone of voice that made my feelings toward waiting obvious.. But not Flores, she was relaxed and patient as she placed her order and so I just had to comment.  “Wow, that yoga thing must really work, you had to wait a long time and you’re still smiling” I said.   In which Flores responded in a smooth, relaxed tone, “Yeah, you just have to remember to breathe.”   

Her words, which lined up with her demeanor, got me rethinking this whole yoga thing.  When I got home that day I did a little research and found out that yoga increases energy, strength, flexibility, awareness, patience while at the same time decreasing anxiety, depression and so much more.  Contemplating the benefits also caused me to reflect on how we are strengthened as Christians.  

When spending time with God in prayer and meditating on the truth of scripture our faith is strengthened, and we can experience peace, joy and inner-contentment as we choose to believe and trust in the promises of God.   However, even the best Christians can find themselves bouncing off walls emotionally and coming unglued simply because while inhaling God’s truth Christians can forget to exhale life’s many irritations when going about the day.  Though the Word of God strengthens our spirit, the mind and the body can become weak if left unattended too.

1 Thessalonians 5:23 reveals that God wants us to be well-balanced in our spirit, mind and body.  Weighing this truth with Flores’ comment of remembering to breathe, which is one of the key components in yoga, reminds me that while strengthening our spirit and growing daily in our walk with God through prayer, Bible reading, reflection and applying doesn’t mean we shouldn’t take advantage of the zillions of unique and positive ways God has given us to strengthen our mind and body as well in order to bring balance.  

My personal goal for this upcoming year is to better apply 1 Thessalonians 5:23 to my life which means, instead of my typical snotty yoga thinking, I’m definitely taking a few lessons and learning how breathe just a little bit deeper.   I’m also going to try other enjoyable activities that will help bring balance to my spirit, soul and body.  For the more balance we have, the more fit we are for Jesus.

If you live you would like more information from Michele Flores about the benefits of yoga or would like a list of her class times call 209-239-3464.