I’ve gotten back into yoga after decades away, and my body is both loving and hating it. I look like the tin man in most of the poses, but I’m beginning to feel my muscles let go as I make the connection between breathing and releasing tension. I’m thankful for a very patient teacher and a friendly group of supportive ladies who encourage me to stretch beyond my comfort zone.

Comfort and breathing go hand in hand. I have the tendency to hold my breath during difficult poses, and that causes my muscles to contract and stiffen my body. My yoga teacher is a patient, wonderful woman who comes around and helps us ease into the proper alignment. Obviously, she spends a lot of time with me.

She came over last week, stood in front of me, smiled, and began to shake my hips. She used the image of the old vibrating exercise machines to get me to loosen up. We both laughed because it was working. She did the same with my shoulders which, like my hips, lock into place at the first sign of stress.

I’m a visual learner who loves laughing, so the teacher’s technique was perfect. She certainly helped me relax and breathe. Yesterday during class, I found myself shaking my hips and shoulders while imagining myself on a 1950’s exercise contraption. The best teachers find a way to get their students to learn. Jackie did just that. In fact, the image helps outside of class. When I feel a little tension building, I just think of that crazy machine, laugh, and give myself a little jiggle.

Modern day versions of the old exercise machine are available. It turns out the workout can be beneficial when used correctly. I don’t think I’ll purchase a machine because recalling the image and the remembering the laughter is enough to get me to relax and breathe. Turns out letting go works as well with breathing as it does with loving.

Namaste -_-

Offer Up the Ordinary

I’ve been studying Romans 12 this week, and I love the way Eugene Peterson translates verses one and two in The Message.

So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.”

I love the idea of offering my ordinary life to God. My “sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking around life” is virtually all of my life. When I think about how much of my life is ordinary, I’m humbled by these verses. I love gathering for worship or doing something special, but I realized today that my relationship with God or with anyone is rooted in loving them in ordinary ways.

The kids went off on an adventure, so I was home alone today. I was feeling left out and a little sad at first, but I thought about Romans 12 and decided to be grateful for an ordinary day and give it to God. It was a quiet day filled with peace. Some might call it boring, but I found it to be a beautiful blessing. I swam alone, walked alone, ate alone, and read alone. It was wonderful!

God taught an important lesson today as I realized there are far worse things than being alone. It was nice to have my attention fixed upon God. I was able to see and hear things I don’t notice when busyness surrounds me. The birds, frogs, crickets, and the doggies were great company today. I felt the stress and the mess melt away with each chirp and croak. It was so freeing to relax and let go. I gave God my attention, and He bid me to stop and enjoy what I miss when I’m getting and doing.

Being part of Christ’s body is about being who I’m meant to be. Trying to be something I’m not or comparing myself with others causes me to miss the simple beauty of simply being. God gave me something extraordinary today, and that’s what He will do everyday if I’ll fix my attention on Him and offer Him my ordinary.

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