I take a deep breath, and my body stills. Adriene’s voice is peaceful and calm as she invites you to find a comfortable seat, to slow down, to breathe. She talks about finding time and energy for yourself, being kind to yourself, building a relationship with yourself.
As I sit on my mat, breathing deep and slow, it dawns on me that yoga may be as close to prayer and devotion as I can get these days. I find no peace in a Catholic mass. No longer do I find comfort in the rituals and traditions of the Catholic Church. Most certainly I feel no solace, nor do I find guidance, when I listen to the clergy. Instead, it is in practice, on the mat, listening to Adriene, that I find respite from the tedium of the world, that I find guidance for how to overcome my anxieties, that I feel peace despite these troubled times.
I was on my yoga mat, years ago, when I found peace amid the turmoil of motherhood and post-partum depression. On the yoga mat I found meditation and the value of rest. On my yoga mat I have learned to accept that I have limits, and that on some days I can push past them, while on others I must respect them.
It could be 20 minutes, or 30, or 60, it doesn’t matter. It is in yoga practice that I have learned so much of how to to love and respect myself, to trust and accept myself. Religion may preach the denial of the self, but I have found this to be incredibly problematic, at least for me. Religions may teach love of neighbor, but far too often I see others preaching this instead of truly, sincerely practicing this. Religion may work for many others, but it has not done much for me.
Instead I have devotion and dedication, mindfulness and meditation, and I have learned to love and honor myself. When I love and honor myself, when I trust and know myself, when I hold space for myself, then honoring others, and treating them in the way that feels honest and true, this follows naturally.
My thanks and respect to those who offer prayers, who find comfort in church and mass, in novena and rosary. My own devotions lie elsewhere.