As a Yoga Therapist that specializes in mental health and trauma, the mind-body link is one I understand intimately. And it’s one that I tend to find really devastating in those struggling with body positivity.
Have you ever heard that saying “speak kindly to yourself as every cell of your body is listening?” Well, it’s true, friend! There are tons of research on how disease can be rooted in our mind-body link. Gabor Mate, author of the uber popular book When the Body Says No, speaks about the devastating link between repressed anger and chronic illness. Suffice to say, our bodies are listening! And we can cause much physical damage through our thoughts about, and subsequent behavior to, our bodies.
Biblically, God’s Word is clear on this too. We are fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14). God’s creation (you) has no error. He believes you are incredibly perfect, as you are. Now if you’re anything like me, you may be thinking “great, I get that Godthinks that, but how doI think that?” Well, my friend, if you believe God’s Word is the truth, then this is truth. Truth doesn’t mean it always feels like the answer we want; our emotions need time to catch up!
Yoga can absolutely help with that. Spend some time reflecting on three to four poses that feel nourishing to you. Given your unique body, what yoga poses do you love and does your body love? I encourage you to practice those at least several times a week while meditating on Psalm 139:14. Soak in the poses you are uniquely created for and how God loves you as you are with a love that’s beyond human comprehension. You are absolute perfection to Him, you don’t have to feel that you are – you simply are.
Let go of external value. I.e., the mirror! It’s so easy to stand in front of the mirror and spot all the things you wish didn’t exist or were different. Yoga sometimes can emphasize this too. Especially a practice that is focused on the outer appearance of the poses. I challenge you in your next class to focus purely on the internal experience of the poses, how do they feel in your body? Where do you want to stretch deeper? Where do you want to go lightly and more gently?
This turning inwards to experience provides us with some reprieve from our constant stream of externally focused thoughts! And again, God’s Word speaks to physical training having value but not nearly as much value as Godliness (1 Tim 4:8). We are tending to a soul that will exist through eternity, not our current physical form. If this is something you find hard, I would like to encourage you to also seek out a teacher that teaches in this way, and not one that is heavily focused on external appearance of poses. Perhaps that’s a better fit for you for this season.
So, if God isn’t asking us to focus solely on outward appearance and to go deeper, what can we focus our yoga practice on? 1 Peter 3:3-4 speaks to our focus needing to be on our inner self and spirit. And I love this, as it has made me consider using my yoga practice as a cultivation of the fruits of the spirit (and not physical appearance). Some examples:
A challenging flow can be used to build patience.
A yin flow can be used to cultivate peace and self-control.
A restorative flow can be used to cultivate gentleness.
Yoga with God’s Word in mind can be the most incredible way to cultivate focus on our soul and on our heart. The parts of us that truly matter to God. From this flows a release of external focus and what the world would love us to consider as most important. But we are not of the world, friend.
Soak it up. He loves you. Let it settle into your bones through a change of focus.
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Candice is a registered counselor and yoga teacher that specializes in trauma and mental health. She has completed an Honors Degree in Psychology & has a calling for the healing and restoration of broken hearts. Spoken over her before she was 1 year old! She loves to write, love on her hubs & 2 fur-babies and spend uninterrupted time in God’s presence. She is currently wrapping up her Yoga Therapy training via Holy Yoga. You can find out more about her on Instagram: www.instagram.com/candsclarkvz or on her website www.candiceclark.co.za
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