Yoga Theology: Headstands and Face-Plants

Eighteen years after my first yoga class, I still don't like to stand on my head.

I resisted the headstand pose successfully for a long time, until an experienced teacher at a workshop convinced me to face my "fear" and go upside down. So, I did. It felt pretty good. I wrote a blog post about it.

Deep down I still didn't like it. I went back to avoiding headstands.

Eventually, a different teacher, also very experienced, talked me into trying the inversion again. A few tries went well, so I started practicing it more regularly. Until I fell out of it. It did not feel good. I wrote another blog post about it.

This is Crow Pose. That is NOT me in Crow Pose.

This is Crow Pose. That is NOT me in Crow Pose.

The good news is that I am not writing a third blog post about attempting a headstand. I didn't just give them up for Lent once upon a time. I gave them up because they never felt "right" to me. Of course, they may feel "right" to other people. My friend, Jamie, had no qualms about kicking into a headstand. In one particular class, I remember sharing with her my hesitancy. She then shared with me that she was more uneasy in crow pose. Crow pose is one that, if you do fall, you will likely have a face-plant (translation for those unfamiliar with the term: you fall on your face). However, crow pose was, and still is, one of my favorite poses. I don't worry about face-planting because something about the pose comes naturally to me, the same way headstand felt natural to Jamie.

We often hear admonitions that we should challenge ourselves, push our limits, step out of our comfort zones. As a follower of the gospel, I adhere to these commands because they sound a lot like they way Jesus lived and taught. However, there are times when the Holy Spirit might be nudging us to stick with our gifts. Follow what feels "right." I once heard a pastor use the command, "Stay in your anointing," which I came to understand as honing and perfecting the gifts that God had placed within you.

So often we forget that those gifts are not things for which we have to search. Gifts are what arise naturally in us. Spiritual gifts energize us the way crow pose energized me and the way headstand energized Jamie. Yes, we should alway be open to new ventures and trying out new opportunities when the Holy Spirit nudges us in those directions. We should also be open to remain committed to those gifts that fill us with a holy zeal for God's kingdom.

Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit;
— 1 Corinthians 12:4 (New Revised Standard Version)

What are the gifts that feel "right" to you? What gives you energy and strength in your community of faith? What elicits joy and laughter? Listen carefully, for the Spirit is likely speaking in the most obvious of ways--when we take the time to climb off our heads and listen to our hearts.

all good things to each of you,

Pastor Darian