When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability.
“Your spirit is mingled with mine . . . what touches you, touches me.” Rumi
Pentecost, one of the most energy-filled festivals of the church, celebrates the reality that we can all be different, speak different languages, and still understand each other. We are all loved by God, and each of us can love God and others in our own way. The festival is filled with images of fire and flame, wind and breath. These two sets of elements are directly connected, so that one cannot survive without the other. Without air a flame is suffocated, and without the fire of purpose human breath becomes cold and lifeless. Mingled together, both thrive.
The images in this passage inspire us to consider that while we human beings may speak different languages we are all infused with one Spirit and are loved by one God. God comes to us in many different ways to remind us that we together constitute his ONE people. When celebrated, our shared humanity allows us not just to live together but to thrive together.
In the early years of yoga’s resurgence in America, many teachers preferred English names for the asanas over their traditional Sanskrit names. One reason for this preference was to help students readily understand each practice. But the other—and perhaps the primary—motivation to use English translations of the pose names was fear. Fear of misunderstanding distracted people from the benefits of the yoga practice. Sanskrit is, however, a beautiful language, and lovely sounding words like sivasana and namaste are now better understood. Those of us familiar with yoga know without having to translate in our minds into English that they mean rest and a greeting of honor, respectively. These Sanskrit words have become melded into our collective vocabulary as the popularity of yoga has grown. They reflect yoga concepts that are of mutual benefit for all participants who wish to live in collective harmony. Yoga, like faith, is a practice that calls us to live life together. Much as our faith teaches us to trust the Spirit, we as yogis trust the Spirit to enter into our faith and yoga practices to lead the way so we can live peacefully and thrive in union with the One who loves us and each other.
Inhale We Exhale Are One
Focus Pose: When I first heard the English translation of gomukhasana, Cow Face Pose, I laughed aloud. Yet I was perplexed, wondering what that unlikely sounding name could possibly imply for the pose. Over the years, though, I’ve come to apply a kind of bovine docility to my practice of this pose, not pushing myself to exceed my bodily limitations in the asana. Cow Face pose is known as both a hip- and a heart-opener; shoulders and knees need to be amenable to the pose as well. This week, add a version of Cow Face Pose to your practice and discover for yourself how it translates.