Yoga Mat Collisions by Caroline Williams

The Your stories blogs are a place where women can bravely and authentically tell their story as it really is. We invite women to collide with Jesus and share how He is meeting them, transforming them and redeeming them. We hope this “your story” meets you in yours…

There I was, lying on a yoga mat six inches away from my sweaty Lululemon-clad neighbor, packed like a sardine into a stuffy yoga studio in Washington, DC. The cheap portable speakers played some music you would only ever hear in an overpriced spa. There we all lay, eyes closed, blissed out after stretching and twisting and backbending for an hour.

This was the part of the class called Savasana (translated from Sanskrit as Corpse Pose) where we were all supposed to lie there peacefully, not fidget, and not think about the list of errands you have to run or the first thing you’re going to eat as soon as you’re dismissed from the stuffy blissed out sardine room.

I was having a problem though.

I could not stop the tears streaming from my eyes, down my cheeks, and pooling in my ears. The snot was coming hot and heavy along with the tears, but The Rules of Savasana kept me from wiping either my nose or my ears (where the pools of tears were now overflowing down my neck and into my hair). In a yoga class where the teacher talked about how we all should be a little kinder to ourselves and each other, I felt the presence of God thicker than I ever have outside of a small handful of church services.

“DO YOU HAVE ANY IDEA HOW MUCH I LOVE YOU?! DO YOU KNOW HOW PROUD I AM OF YOU?!” the Voice both whispered and roared, over and over, its truth hitting me like the power of hurricane winds in a heart that had not heard those words or felt that Presence, in a very long time.

My body shook with the silent sobs of surrender.

I had practiced yoga on and off for years, loving the physical workout and the emphasis on being present and mindful. As a busy, ambitious, people-pleaser, I always struggled with carving out “quiet time” with God, never being able to really quiet the external and internal distractions. But I always worried a little about the statues of Ganesh or Buddha in the studios I visited. To assuage my anxiety I’d throw up a quick prayer asking God to protect my heart/forgive me if I was, in fact, doing something evil.

That moment on my yoga mat, covered in tears and snot, was not really an anomaly but was becoming a pretty regular occurrence. There was something about moving and breathing, not being able to do anything else for that hour except be present, that opened the door for the Holy Spirit to have some room to speak – “ahh,” He seemed to say, “finally…now I have your attention.” His voice broke through all the noise and Buddha statues and spoke to my weary heart.

Fast forward a few years, a couple of yoga trainings, and a career move (so long politics, hello health + wellness!). Today I practice and teach a style of yoga called Holy Yoga, a beautiful collision of the physical practice of yoga with the Truth of the Gospel woven in. In a Holy Yoga class we play worship music, infuse Scripture into the practice, and use that time moving and breathing as a worshipful experience to connect with God in our heart, soul, and body. I have the great joy to teach those classes in my community and online via my YouTube channel.

What I’ve learned through this journey, is that God doesn’t just exist in a Sunday church service or in the pages of a Bible you scroll through on the way to work. He is a living God, active in the world around us and eager to speak to us in and about every aspect of our lives. You and I and the woman next to you are made uniquely, able to hear and experience God in our own way. He’s eager to speak if only we make ourselves available to listen.

For some of us that might mean practicing yoga. Or maybe it’s running, writing, drawing, cooking, or knitting. Go and do that thing you love doing, that thing that makes you feel like YOU, and in the midst of your run or your recipe, pause for a second. Close your eyes. And just talk to God. It doesn’t have to be formal or complicated, but can be as simple as Thank You. Invite Him into the moment, acknowledge His presence, and give Him room to speak. He is always there. He hears you. And He can’t wait to tell you how in love with you He is.

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