Spiritual Practice

17 Apr
Photo via Flickr user Loving Earth

Photo via Flickr user Loving Earth

I opened the closet door and lifted my turquoise mat out from where it was wedged in the corner. About ten feet from the bassinet holding my sleeping baby, I unrolled the mat slowly.

The last thing my nurse called out to me was No yoga for six weeks! as I left the hospital with Simon and Dan to go home. My mind wandered to that moment. I took a deep breath and let it out slowly. It was time.

I put my feet in the middle of the mat, lightly kissing each other, picked up all ten toes and placed them back down from outside to in, fanning them wide to get a solid base. I noticed how the grid of micro bumps on the mat felt on the soles of my feet. My feet looked slender, my toes seemed long. It had been months since I saw the tendons and muscles flexing and relaxing. They had been swallowed up by swollenness for so long.

I straightened my spine, one vertebrae stacked on top of the next, until I was reaching the crown of my head toward the ceiling. My skeleton engaged, creating space for air and blood to flow. The correct alignment gave my muscles instant relief. Inhale. Exhale. I smelled like milk. Shining my palms forward slowly, the muscles hugging my shoulder blades seemed to creak, so tired and forgotten, used to hours of curling forward to feed, rock, hush, embrace a tiny person who needed me. I rolled my shoulders up to my ears and back, tucking my shoulder blades in and forward, balancing the movement with gently pulling my chin back. Inhale. Exhale. Kneecaps engaged, I swept my arms up toward the sky, my soft eyes glancing between my thumbs. Both shoulders cracked, the left, then the right. Standing tall, I could feel muscles in my abdomen and womb call my attention. I breathed into those places, taking note, reconnecting with my body. Worn, but strong.

This is what I love about spiritual practice. It’s repetition gets trapped in our bodies, our muscle memory, our DNA. There is comfort in the familiar, in the tangible. Whether it is the feel of prayer beads between our fingers, the ritual of lighting a candle before prayer, the chair that molds around you and your devotional, the action ties us to the past and the future. After wandering, which we all do from time to time, we come back to the practice. God is always there, awaiting our return with grace and love. The practice, like God, welcomes us home.

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