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The Discipline of Opening to Grace

As some of you may know, I am an avid practitioner of yoga. In the last four or five years, it’s become my primary spiritual practice. Nearly every day, I get up and do some movement and/or meditation to get started. Doing this keeps me sane and centered in positive spiritual energy.

When I moved to Des Moines almost a year ago, one of my first priorities was to find a new studio at which to take yoga classes. I’ve studied several different kinds of yoga; I even completed a yoga teacher training in Kundalini yoga about two years ago.

This time I found a studio that practices Anusara yoga. Though I had heard about this type of yoga, I knew very little about it before taking classes at Shakti Yoga studio in Des Moines.

During one class a few months ago, we were asked to experience “opening to grace,” one of the foundational principles of Anusara. We were asked to do this by focusing a little more attention on our back body. Now, I don’t know about you, but I don’t give much thought to my back body on a daily basis. All of our attention is on the front of our body because that is how we see and interact with other people. But, our back body, our instructor explained, is that place where we can experience grace – precisely because we CAN’T see or feel what is behind us very easily. Our back body reminds us that both the spiritual and the physical universe are very mysterious.
During difficult poses, she invited us to imagine that our back body was supported. The results for me were amazing, but not in the most obvious way. I didn’t suddenly acquire the ability to do challenging poses; but, my feeling in the poses became radically different. I became spiritually aware of the support that is always with me and within me. I tried new things because I trusted that someone/something was there to support me.

Opening to grace is not only fundamental to the practice of Anusara yoga, but to Christianity as well. We are taught to trust that grace is always present – a free flowing gift from God, which we only need to accept, not earn.

Practicing this on my yoga mat made me think about what it would be like to live “open to grace” all the time. If I trusted that God supported me in everything I do and that God gives me everything I need, I’m sure I would be less cautious and take more risks.

I hope that everyone reading this will find a way this week to “open to grace,” and go ahead and take some risks and just see how God supports you.

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