With practices like yoga, tai chi, and pilates dominating exercise trends today, it’s easy to get sucked into the movement without really knowing what you’re getting yourself into. Sure, the patterned leggings and fancy yoga mats ensure a fun time, and that may be enough incentive for you to participate. But when it comes right down to it, what exactly are you agreeing to when it comes to meditation, finding your center, and experiencing “enlightenment”?
Because practices like yoga and tai chi are associated with religions outside of Christianity, many people either refuse to participate in these activities or refuse to acknowledge the spiritual element in them. While this perspective is valid and up to the individual, it would be a shame for all of these practices to be shunned by Christians. After all, though many people don’t realize it, the movement is an incredible way for the individual to slow down and connect with her inner self and with the Lord.
So with that in mind, here are a few ways for you to keep using your yoga pants and newfangled water bottles, while still taking advantage of the spiritual discipline of movement:
Step 1: Meditate
Meditation is an incredibly enriching practice and is a great way for you to relax and focus your thoughts. More importantly, meditation has its roots in Christianity and is the perfect way to calm your spirit and focus on the Lord.
If you find that you have trouble sitting quietly for an extended period of time, then you might try meditating for only a few minutes until you get used to the practice. Additionally, focusing your mind on lengthening your breathing or on certain emotions can help.
Step 2: Breathe
Speaking of breathing, focusing on your inhale and exhale during exercise can release tension, cleanse your body and soul, and fill you with a sense of wholeness. Imagining the color red when you inhale and blue when you exhale can also increase the feeling of clean, full breathing. Ultimately, your breathing patterns will calm your spirit and allow you to focus on lengthening through the exercises and engaging with your core.
Step 3: Reach
Though you may have never before heard of reaching through your “kinesphere,” this practice is an essential part of the stretching and lengthening exercises incorporated in yoga and tai chi. Your kinesphere is the space you can reach around yourself when you reach to your fullest extent without moving your feet. That means that when you have a stretching or lengthening exercise, reaching through your kinesphere will allow you to feel the stretch fully and appreciate the way your body was created to move.
Step 4: Release
Letting go of the fear, worry, and frustration that builds up during the day is a wonderful part of the spiritual discipline of movement. When you meditate, breath, reach and release through these exercises, you can free your mind, renew your spirit, and fully appreciate the blessing of movement.
Additionally, if you are ever looking for a new way to worship the Lord or purify yourself through movement, dancing freely to worship music or instrumental music can be an incredible release.
So, the next time you are contemplating throwing on your fabulous dry-fit tank or grabbing your designer yoga mat, remember to meditate, breathe, reach, and relax. With that in mind, you can truly appreciate the spiritual discipline of movement.