This practice comes from The Abbey, an online community for lovers of Jesus and yoga. Each month we release two full-length practices and this short practice is part of a longer chest-opening flow. Get in on the goodness at https://theyogaabbey.com
Welcome to this 30 minute Super Slow Flow Gentle Christian Yoga Practice!
This practice focuses on opening up the shoulders and chest, making it a great practice for those who sit at desks all day. We meditate on a passage from Mark 1 to guide our hearts and minds.
The next morning, Jesus got up long before daylight, left the house while it was dark, and made his way to a secluded place to give himself to prayer. Later, Simon and his friends searched for him, and when they finally tracked him down, they told him, “Everyone is looking for you—they want you!”
Jesus replied, “We have to go on to the surrounding villages so that I can give my message to the people there, for that is my mission.” So he went throughout the region of Galilee, preaching in the Jewish synagogues and casting out demons. Mark 1:35-39
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Move into a time of silent meditation or journaling. You can practice this seated and still, or walking.
What happiness comes to you when you feel your spiritual poverty! For theirs is the realm of heaven’s kingdom.
What delight comes to you when you wait upon the Lord! For you will find what you long for.
What blessing comes to you when gentleness lives in you! For you will inherit the earth.
How enriched you are when you crave righteousness! For you will be surrounded with fruitfulness.
How satisfied you are when you demonstrate tender mercy! For tender mercy will be demonstrated to you.
What bliss you experience when your heart is pure! For then your eyes will open to see more and more of God.
How joyful you are when you make peace! For then you will be recognized as a true child of God.
How enriched you are when you bear the wounds of being persecuted for doing what is right! For that is when you experience the realm of heaven’s kingdom.
How ecstatic you can be when people insult and persecute you and speak all kinds of cruel lies about you because of your love for me! So leap for joy – since your heavenly reward is great.
- Matthew 5: 3-12, The Passion Translation
Matthew 6:6-7, The Passion Translation
Whenever you pray, go into your innermost chamber and be alone with Father God, praying to Him in secret...When you pray, there is no need to repeat empty phrases, praying like those who don't know God, for they expect God to hear them because of their many words.
Take this time to pray and journal through some of these questions.
- How do I pray? For example, what kind of tone or attitude do I adopt? Do I put on a performance for God?
- What does it look like to pray like someone who doesn't know God?
- What does it look like to pray as someone who does know God? As a child of God?
- Do I pray like someone who doesn't know God?
- What kind of tone do I take with God?
- How often do I expect God to hear me because of my performance, forgetting that God hears me because I'm His child, His beloved one?
Before and during your period your energy is at its lowest point at the beginning of your period, so this is a restorative practice. Your hormone levels decline quickly to their lowest concentrations, creating the greatest communication between the right and left brain.
Give yourself extra grace today and a hopeful perspective on your work. What would it look like to love myself exceedingly well today? Here are some examples of what that could look like:
- Only worry about the one thing in front of me to do, don't get sucked into the overwhelming and scattered world of what's next.
- Text a friend and ask how they're doing.
- Take a bath.
- No sugary dessert tonight.
- You have permission for more moments like this - quiet, reflective, love-aware
This helps us connect with the unconditional love of God and helps us communicate to the people in our lives who love us.
Take this time to reflect and release.
Anxiety is inherently disconnecting. It disconnects us from our bodies. It disconnects us from Love.
Shame sees this opening made by the disconnection and likes to swoop in so the moment we realize we're disconnected we're also flooded with a sense of shame for allowing ourselves to be disconnected. We should love God better. We should know the Bible better. We should not feel these things.
When we stop feeding anxiety it stops growing. If we are connected to Love in all things, at all times, anxiety loses its authority because "perfect love casts out fear." So the invitation before us today is to notice when anxiety is the authoritative voice, notice when its running the show. Turn and face it. Notice how it feels in your body. Notice what things anxiety is holding hostage. And then choose to plug back into Love. Invite Jesus into that fear. Invite Jesus into the feeling. Welcome the presence of Love and choose to abide in it. Let the power of Love silence anxiety.
"If holding your ground is what you are called to most days, it helps to know your ground." - Kathleen Norris
"Resilience is born by grounding yourself in your own loveliness, hitting notes you thought were way out of your range." - Greg Boyle
One of the symptoms of anxiety is feeling stuck on a mental hamster wheel. You can't stop thinking.
Yoga is a really beneficial tool to alleviate anxiety. This is because yoga is inherently integrative and connective, countering the disconnecting efforts of anxiety. There are a couple aspects of yoga that are especially helpful: slowing down and balancing.
"I cannot get God by holding Him off at arm's length like a photography, but by leaning forward intently as one would respond to one's lover. Love so insatiable as the love of God can never be satisfied until we respond to the limit." - Frank Laubach
How do you know if the endless thoughts stand up in the presence of Christ? Talk TO Him about them. Not just yourself. And definitely don't engage with the worry.
"Instead of talking to yourself, form the habit of talking to Christ...No practice we have ever found has held the mind as much as this: making all thought a conversation with the Lord." - Brother Lawrence
John 14:27 (The Passion Translation - TPT)
“I leave the gift of peace with you—my peace. Not the kind of fragile peace given by the world, but my perfect peace. Don’t yield to fear or be troubled in your hearts—instead, be courageous!"
These are the same words God spoke to Moses and Joshua. Jesus is identifying himself as the Son of God. These aren’t just nice sentiments from Jesus, this declaration goes back centuries. Peace is our inheritance.
Phil. 4:6-8 (TPT)
"Don’t be pulled in different directions or worried about a thing. Be saturated in prayer throughout each day, offering your faith-filled requests before God with overflowing gratitude. Tell him every detail of your life, then God’s wonderful peace that transcends human understanding, will make the answers known to you through Jesus Christ. So keep your thoughts continually fixed on all that is authentic and real, honorable and admirable, beautiful and respectful, pure and holy, merciful and kind. And fasten your thoughts on every glorious work of God, praising him always."
This entire practice takes place seated or reclined, so it is the perfect companion to the end of a long day or those moments you just need to be still, soft, and open with yourself and the Lord. Throughout this practice, we meditate on one specific aspect of love – physical touch.
God put on skin and became a human being – that we know and celebrate yearly at Christmas. But that God-Human, like all humans, required physical touch in order to survive and thrive. It didn't stop there though. The healing power of physical touch became part of His ministry, a way to deliver healing body + heart + mind. Jesus never became too holy or too mature to touch others or allow others to touch him.
It brings me to tears to think of the moment Jesus shared with his fearful disciples three days after his crucifixion. He was alive, miraculously, and in the room with them where they were hiding. Despite seeing Jesus and hearing Jesus, Thomas still could not believe that Jesus was alive. So Jesus invited Thomas to touch him, to run his fingers along the holes in his hands and the hole in his side. He invited Thomas to touch his woundedness and be healed of his disbelief.
And so that's the inspiration for this short slow practice – the recognition that physical touch is a powerful communicator of intimacy. Touch can heal disbelief, fear, anxiety, and all the hidden places shattered by the ugliness that impacts our lives.
We spend this whole practice seated or reclined on the floor with one hand making contact with our body at all times. Like I said, it's different, but it's pretty holy and healing.
Psalm 17:8 (TPT)
Protect me from harm;
keep an eye on me like you would a child
reflected in the twinkling of your eye.
Yes, hide me within the shelter of your embrace,
under your outstretched wings.
Jeremiah 31:3 (NLT)
Long ago the Lord said to Israel: "I have loved you, my people, with an everlasting love. With unfailing love I have drawn you to myself."