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Essay

Yoga Blocks

By July 26, 2017 6 Comments
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It’s been about a year and half since I began my yoga practice. Like Elizabeth Gilbert in Eat, Pray, Love I would wear my mala beads and breathe my way through each physical transition as I was making major life transitions. We preach Transformed and Transforming but we have yet to preach how much work is involved in the actual transformation process. Death and resurrection, over and over, that’s what the Christian life of discipleship is. For those who have gone through transformations in life know what I’m talking about. Yoga is good for depression relief and health and it turns out for the Christian walk with Jesus. Yoga is good for transformation.

Yoga accompanies me in my Christian walk.

My yoga practice involves assistance. I use blocks all the time in yoga. Blocks are the cushiony material to help one bend more deeply into the poses. Most poses I need assistance getting into the right posture so I’m supported. It’s been over a year of my practice and I still need assistance with those blocks. All. The. Time. Shouldn’t I know how to hold myself up without the blocks by now? My ego thinks so. How tempting to compare myself to the other yogis who bend with ease and need no support. The reality is, I need the blocks and I need yoga. So the blocks remain while I pray in yoga.

The first yoga class I went to last year I was the only one who used blocks. “Great.” I thought “Let me just scream to all the acrobatic bending folks in here how much I have no idea what I’m doing, how much I feel insecure even in being here. How much I feel out of control with the transformation process.” I felt embarrassed. I felt shame. I was taught “to do it myself.”  That’s the thing with white privilege; white people have been taught to believe the lie that we have to do it ourselves. It hurts white folks as much as people of color. White privilege speaks the sins of self-sufficiency and it seduces white folks into thinking that we should be embarrassed to ask for help. How contradictory this is to the life of Christ, total dependence upon our God. Daily. Hourly. Minute by minute. Dependence. No wonder the process of transformation is not for the faint of heart. No wonder life with Christ is not for the faint heart.

As I was leaving my yoga studio recently, after bending in my poses supported by those dang blocks, the instructor said “I love how you use blocks. You know how to get yourself into the right posture and you use the assistance of blocks perfectly.”

You know how that made me feel? GREAT. With a puddle of water beneath me after a very hot practice. My soul and my body and my mind and my spirit feels great. (I often imagine Jesus doing yoga with me. It’s some of our time together.) What if we celebrated each other for seeking help? What if we learned to cheer each other on when we sought the assistance we needed? I think that makes room for so much more joy and community support.

Maybe those blocks are a reminder from God of my dependence on the Creator. Maybe those blocks are a reminder that it is good to ask for help. Maybe there are people or places that are “blocks” in our lives that we don’t need to be embarrassed seeking help from because they help us get into the right posture in our life and walk in freedom and joy.

I know how to ask for help in so many areas of my life now because of yoga. May we never be ashamed for seeking the help we need to get into the right posture in our lives.

Jes Kast

The Reverend Jes Kast is an ordained Minister of Word and Sacrament and serves West End Collegiate Church as their Associate Pastor.

6 Comments

  • Alicia Mannes says:

    Thank you! I too use blocks. Great analogy. I will remember your words tonight as I do my practice.

  • I led my first yoga class today, not because I’m great at yoga, but because the teacher is moving away. Your blog post hit me like a sign from God. The yoga part was good but the celebrating the times when we seek help –awesome. Thanks.

  • Andrea DeWard says:

    Thank you for this post and especially thank you for the picture chosen to go with the post. Both the words and the image spoke to me.

  • Rodney says:

    Thanks, Jes. I’m training for a marathon, my first, and there are no blocks per se, but I’m running with my wife and son and the remind me with their presence that I could t do it alone and I don’t have to. You are so right about my white privilege. I’ve been taught in everything to “go it alone,” “be strong,” etc., but true transformation in community, dependence and love is what really takes strength. Keep stretching and I trust that Jesus will stretch with you.

  • Sherry says:

    Wow, so timely. Just this week I’ve restarted my yoga practice, it’s been over 7 years since my last classes. I’ve had so health issues, gained some weight and turned 60-I need help. I will no longer leave my block in the closet, it’s coming out because I need it this time. The best thing is that now it will not only help me physically it will be another reminder that I am not alone. Christ will be with me, you will be with me and so will everyone else who seeks His help. Thanks for the eye opener.

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