I experienced a different style of yoga practice on Saturday. And in many ways I practiced what my spirit has always known.
Just B Yoga visited The Studio Yoga in Grand Rapids for a special candlelight Lenten Yoga Practice. The class was instructed by my friend Andre Daley (@whollyyoga) who is a pastor and a yoga instructor. Andre and I bonded over community yoga. He also believes in donation and community yoga.
I was drawn to the idea of finding the meeting ground for those of devout Christian faith and the Eastern Eight Limbs of Yoga.
It was beautiful. The connection is there naturally. All one has to do is open your eyes to see it. Surrender, praise, humility, faith in a higher calling, the light of life.
I ended class not really seeing a division line in thought or belief. It all seemed one.
The physical practice looks the same on the outside. Folks on yoga mats, standing or sitting. Bending or lengthening.
Where the shift occurs is from the heart and inside the spirit. Andre started with a beautiful verse from John about Jesus washing the disciples’ feet. The point was not physical hygiene but spiritual cleanliness and to learn the lesson to go forth and do the same to and for your brethren. Help keep one another spiritually whole. Be community. And have trust and faith in the spirit.
We moved forward with the physical yoga practice with these themes firmly planted and reinforced.
As we made our way into Warrior II posture we swept the hands symbolically over the face, which Dre referred to as “wash the face.”
Hands come to prayer often, like in ashtanga practice when we return to samasthiti.
Several times through different postures practitioners are encouraged to keep their palms open and facing upward to receive the gifts from God and to surrender to a higher power.
This was a very powerful position in child’s pose, arms outstretched with palms up. We should all try this sometime. It’s a deeply humbling sensation and took me to the sensation of prostrations. I am Buddhist in faith. We often offer a kata – a silk cloth – to lamas and great spiritual monks, with arms outstretched and palms up.
To end practice in savasana Andre added a lovely element, offering to wash our feet in honor of our Lenten celebration and our community as brothers and sisters in spirit.
We had live music and singing afterward. I felt like I was back in church with my grandmother and sometimes in a singalong with a mom. I got to reconnect with my Christian upbringing in a loving way, all the while affirming my faith and spiritual calling today.
Thank you Andre for sharing this deeply whole and holy practice with us.