Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Yoga in the Church

Here at the Abbey, morning mass occurs everyday after breakfast.    The mass, with its echoing spiralling chants is beautiful.  I feel compelled to go.    However, on the road, this was usually the time when I would do my morning yoga.

The collision of habits, yoga and Church, is proving intriguing.   I am not Catholic, nor can I follow all of the French liturgy.   To enrich the experience I have been doing Yoga during the service.

One of my great partners, Gabrielle, showed me how to do Tadasana.  Its a seemingly simple yoga pose where you stand perfectly straight.   She told me how at a special workshop for yoga instructors, her guru had them work on the pose all day.   There are endless subtleties in just standing tall to work out!   Conveniently, you blend right in with everyone else who is standing up!

Early in my voyage, I had a landmark 3 hour conversation with Bojan, a chiropractor and his wife, a massage therapist, about posture, energetics, and personal beliefs.  One of his observations was that Christian religiosity tends towards bad posture-- just think of the image of bowing in prayer or lowering one's head in humility.   In my travels since, I have been observing the veracity of this in congregations across cultures and, alas, in myself.

By contrast, in Tadasana you stand tall and breath.   As the mass progress, as the chants flow, I have been working on this.  One's posture completely effects the way one absorbs one's world.  It is a great way to absorb the 'vibrations' of the mass.

 In an another encounter this summer, I met Patrick, a sound healer.  I really didn't think much of the concept, that is, until I experienced it first hand in a forested limestone gorge near Galstonbury, England.   Wow.  Deep, carefully crafted sound waves reverberating through your body can be a powerful experience.  It can take you quickly to higher states of consciousness.

Patrick, would totally dig the chanting here.   A Parisian priest I met yesterday observed: "You close your eyes and the chanting lifts you directly into communion with the Lord".  

A blizzard hit Belgium and it snowed again last night.   I am compelled to stay yet longer.  I really want to get back on the road and I am getting ancy.   

Standing in Tdassana, breathing deeply, and absorbing the deep intonations of the chants is fantastic way to immerse myself back in the moment.   The timing is as it should be.  I am indeed in a beautiful space.

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