Finding grace on the yoga mat

I’ve been working on treating my body better lately. This has to do with both treating my PCOS diagnosis, which is a whole long story on its own that I will save for another day, and simply out of a desire for my body to feel better and be taken care of. One of the things I’ve started exploring as I work to improve my relationship with my body is yoga. The mindfulness that’s required, the slow and deliberate motions, and the purposeful attention to your body and how it’s feeling, are practices that I’m finding very useful as I continue to navigate my relationship with myself and learn more about the person I’m called to be.

Something very interesting happened earlier this week as I was doing a yoga sequence before bed. During one of the stretches, which was meant to be a wind-down in preparation for sleep, I suddenly had the inexplicable and inescapable urge to cry. Not just cry, but cry out loud, a big, ugly cry. This need came out of me suddenly and forcefully, and I was surprised by its appearance. I wasn’t entirely sure what to think of it at first. It was as if, while I was taking the time to slow down and pay attention to my body, my heart finally found the room to tell me something that had been happening for weeks but that I hadn’t noticed.

I was incredibly lonely.

Now, those of you who know me well know that I am a naturally sociable person. I’m an extrovert, an external processor. I need human interaction. And I don’t just mean a “Hi, how are you?” or office small talk. I need real talk. Talk about love and hearts and God and what’s going on in our lives, really and truly. And I had been missing that for almost two weeks.

This was a truly humbling experience for me, to recognize and realize that my desire for this kind of intimacy runs so deep, and is in fact so necessary. I almost didn’t want to admit that this was something that I needed because to me, doing so would be to admit that I wasn’t holy enough, because I couldn’t survive on God alone. After all, isn’t God supposed to be enough? Was there something wrong with me for wanting human connection, too?

But as I prayed about these things, as I expressed in my heart the truth of these feelings and what I thought about them, I began to see things in a new way. Yes, we are called to rely on God alone. But, God does not act in a vacuum or only in the nebulas of our souls. If we have learned anything from the Incarnation, it’s that God acts through people. The Lord desires concrete, tangible interaction with us, and He became Man that this might be so. The real, physical encounter with Love is something we were made for, and something we were designed to need. The Lord took on our very flesh in order to make it clear, and He continues to manifest Himself to the world and to us through ordinary people because that’s the way He knows we need it.

There is nothing wrong with needing to be with others, but rather, something that is extremely right, something that was written into the very fabric of our hearts.

Friend, what is it that you feel like you need right now? What do you genuinely need in order to be happy? In order for your heart to flourish, to be well-nourished and well-satisfied, and able to offer your best self? These things are not contrary to God, and they have nothing to do with the state of our holiness. We were made for love, and we were made to need these things, because it is in them that God wants to reach us.

Let’s take stock of our hearts today. Let’s be honest about what we need, even if what we need right now doesn’t seem “holy enough”. Because I promise you, it is.