November 5, 2004
Yoga Ate My Socks
Fair warning: I'm about to reveal some of the secret wisdom of the Eastern art of yoga.
Secret one: when stretching your chi, wear something--anything--other than blue jeans. They're a bit, um, bindy.
Secret two: no pair of socks can survive a vigorous round of yoga.
I learned both these lessons the hard way--on the dilapidated tennis court of a New Mexico retreat center, surrounded by emerging leaders of the American church. My trip was a crosscultural experience, a trip from the suburbs into the land of granola, soy nuts and urban mission.
I was introduced as "the Establishment"--which I suppose is true, though the label left me a bit queasy. I was invited to get out of my head and into my body--which I suppose is an apt prescription, though I hadn't exactly packed for such a course of treatment.
I had expected, I think, to play with my hacky sack a lot, to beam things back and forth on my PDA, to hawk my book (due in next week! Only $12!), to talk about pop culture and to stay up really late each night.
Instead I learned right away that these people weren't kidding around. I was with folks who saw a gap between what we profess and how we think and behave. And they're doing something about it. Some choose to live with the homeless. Others pool their resources so there will be no poor among them. Some are reexamining what Jesus said and adapting their stance toward culture and the church accordingly. Others are recalibrating their faith so it is centered in their bodies rather than their brains.
All this came to a head for me as I prayed through the Lord's prayer, moving from Lotus through Upward Dog and finally to Rag Doll--or something like that. I was short of breath due to the high altitude and sweaty like a pig due to my poor fitness. That's not how I usually pray; I usually pray between sips of cappuccino while lounging on my love seat with my feet in slippers and my cat on my lap. No sweat.
There's something to be said for sweaty, breathless praying, though. Talking to God can seem to be such an abstraction, really the most unusual thing about believing in God altogether. Embodying my prayer that day was, in a word, stretching.
And once I get myself some proper yoga pants.
And I should probably invest in some new socks while I'm at it.
Dallas a little inconvenient for you? Try the Borders Bookstore in Wheaton, Illinois, on Tuesday, December 7, at 7:30pm.
More to come . . .