Yoga Theology: Learning to Like What We "Hate"

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In yoga class this week, when the instructor asked for suggestions, someone said, "Triangles."
Triangle is a popular standing pose that students of any level can practice, and we did multiple variations of it.

At one point, as we were holding the pose, the instructor commented that some people hate triangle pose. I don't remember what else he said because the words hit me hard.

I was one of those triangle-haters. In the thirteen years that I've been practicing yoga, I inwardly, and sometimes verbally, voiced my dislike of triangle. What made the dislike even worse was that it seemed like we did triangle in every single yoga class I attended! When I was teaching yoga, I did put my opinions aside and would lead the class in triangle. But I would get them into the pose and rarely ever practice it with them. I used the excuse that I needed "to adjust them." That was only halfway true. Teaching the pose seemed a perfect way of out of practicing it in class.

Yet, on Tuesday evening, I found myself in the pose. And I was content. I had not resisted the suggestion of a triangle-themed class. The mention of triangle pose had not made me say, "Grrrr." It had even taken me a few minutes to remember my previous distaste for the pose.

Without thinking, I had let go of "hate." And to my surprise, I'd actually started liking that which I'd hated. The sudden acceptance of triangle pose developed not because I consciously willed myself into liking it. The surprising affection for triangles was not of my making. In the past, no matter how much I moaned and groaned, I would still do the pose. I would grit my teeth, clench my jaw, and find my way into it. I did it because I knew that it was an excellent stretch. I continued to practice it because I knew there were long-term benefits. The feelings were there, but I tried not to let those feelings control my actions. And without even realizing it, one day the dislike was gone.

In life we all have "triangle poses": those activities and obligations that are necessary but not well-liked. We also may have to deal with people we'd rather avoid. In his letter to the Philippians, Paul encourages the Church (and us) to "press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called us." He acknowledges that none of us have "arrived at our goal." Like the Philippians, we still struggle with dislikes and resistances. We fall short. But Paul basically tells us: "keep on going." Keep on trying. Keep on loving. Keep on practicing. Don't try so hard to change the way you feel. Instead, keep on looking towards the example of Jesus Christ. When we get our eyes on the goal and off of that which we "hate," one day we realize that the hate not only fades, but also that he is transforming it into a liking.

On what are your eyes focused today? The drudgery of a "triangle pose"? Or on the One who changes us when we can't change ourselves? Lift your eyes, friends. Look ahead. He is working all things for our good--even what we don't like.

all good things, including triangles, to each of you,
Pastor Darian