Child’s Pose

I confess: I’m not a fitness person. I have nothing against fitness people–or their running, or sweating, or drinking life-changing shakes. I’ve just never been one myself. Calories and heart rate and BMI hold zero appeal.

I love Martha Stewart; they love posting selfies at the gym. To-may-to, to-mah-to. To each her own.

So it came as a surprise back in October when I found myself in a yoga class. I mean, there are fitness people and then there are yoga people, who, I could only assume, subsisted on organic kombucha and prayed to crystals regularly. My impression was the people in yoga class–the teacher, for sure–would be pretty crunchy, pretty darn earthy. But my husband had gotten hooked on yoga a few months earlier–the 5:30 a.m. kind–and he pestered me to try it until one day I finally showed up (but not at the 5:30 a.m. class).

It was a pleasant surprise. The teacher, Ellen, was very down to earth and likable (and if she does pray to crystals she hasn’t mentioned it yet). Even though it took me a while to catch on to the poses, Ellen didn’t seem to judge me, which was much appreciated.

I am not a naturally flexible person. Whereas most people apparently have “hamstrings” in the back of their legs, I have a pair of rusty bike chains. So it was fascinating when I noticed I could bend a little deeper than before. And just like that, I was hooked.

My favorite is child’s pose, where you kneel and press your forehead to the floor and stretch your arms out in front. It’s relaxing but also good for stretching tight, anxious shoulders.

I also like the name: child’s pose. Jesus told his disciples to become like little children, and that “whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 18:3-4).

One day in child’s pose I was thinking about whether I could return to a child-like faith. When I was a little girl I had a vast capacity to believe, but growing up has diminished that capacity, adding asterisks and provisos.

After four decades my faith is tarnished by some vivid disappointments, and I’ve become conditioned to underestimate God. This is not child-like faith.

In yoga class, Ellen gives us a few silent moments to set an intention–for the class, for the day, or whatever. One of my intentions is to rediscover a child-like faith; to overestimate what God can do–even what God will do for me. This sounds like boldness–the kind found in those who don’t know how to know how to hedge or equivocate or impose limits. It’s the boldness of a child.

I may still be a novice at yoga, but I know this: it’s a good thing to be in child’s pose.

-Em

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