By Natalie Barden, Intern
Imagine you’re attending a yoga class. The instructor sits at the front of the room and tells the students to move from down dog into a high lunge. You take your left foot forward and keep your feet hip-length apart. Then, lift up your torso and raise your hands to the ceiling with your palms facing inwards. You feel strong, confident and at peace. Does this seem like just a form of exercise to you? According to Monette Chilson , author of Sophia Rising, it could be a way to find your Sophia (Greek for wisdom) in order to renew and strengthen your faith.
Yoga has been growing rapidly in Texas as a new way to get fit and lose those few extra pounds; it’s one of the latest trends in exercise. Although it does have many health benefits, Monette describes how it’s so much more than that. Yoga is the whole practice of bringing things together. The goal of yoga is to unite the mind, body and spirit in order to create a holy place inside of you – a formidable challenge for most people when we have so many things going on around us. Yoga lets us take a step back from the materialism and manic pace of the world and opens us up to the mysticism of religion.
Not sure where to begin? Try this meditation at home to see if it resonates with you:
- Sit down on the ground and practice deep and even breathing.
- Choose one sense to hone in on, whether it’s your sense of hearing, smell, touch or sight. Clear your mind and focus on that one sense. By withdrawing from your other senses, you can ignore all the many things going on around you, and be truly present in that moment. This practice is called pratyahara and should leave you feeling alert and ready for our next practice, the dharana.
- In dharana, choose any object you wish as your focal point. It can be tactile, visual, auditory or olfactory. Focus all of your attention on this object and gradually you should form an inner perceptual awareness.
- The goal of this practice is to clear your mind and contemplate the divine, whatever that may be for you. Connection with the divine is usually not instantaneous, but comes after much contemplation and practice. These are also great ways just to help you calm down, focus your attention and leave you feeling more awake and ready to face your day.
If these practices helped you to feel more present or meld a spiritual connection, continue your exploration with Monette Chilson’s Sophia Rising.
Bright Sky Press
Where Texas Meets Books. Yoga