By Rev. Cindy Senarighi
He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?
Micah 6:8 NRSV
“We are all just walking each other home.” Ram Dass
Our home state, Minnesota, has a cultural nickname: we are called Minnesota nice. A friend from another state pointed out that being “nice,” while sometimes helpful, is in other situations not so much . . . Sometimes being helpful actually prevents the person or people in the situation from learning what they need to learn. Sometimes being helpful is operating from our own sense of what is needed in a given situation rather than according to what the other person really needs. Most people who reach out for help are really asking for us to listen, to allow them to process or problem-solve aloud. Most people are looking for our presence rather than our help.
In the ethical yoga practice of ahimsa, nonviolence to others, we find an intersection between our ethical practice and our call to be people of faith. What does God require of us? To walk humbly with God and, as a natural byproduct or offshoot of this stance, with our neighbor in need. This can be hard work, since most of us are wired to adopt a “fix-it” mode when presented with a difficulty. If we’re honest with ourselves, listening and walking with another, with only our attentive presence to offer—no answers to propose—goes against our grain; still, it’s a practice we try to cultivate in yoga, as well as in our faith practice. We can put ourselves at risk for injury by trying to “force” our body into a pose that is unavailable to us. Approaching our yoga practice in the spirit of ahimsa, committing ourselves to just listening to our bodies, our minds, and our spirits, is a practice of faith we carry with us from the mat into the world.
Focus Pose: Humble or Bound Warrior, baddha virabhadrasana, is a lovely pose to add to your Warrior pose repertoire. The movement of the pose is said to simulate bowing down to honor God. Begin in either standing or seated Warrior I, hips facing forward in the pose. Stack your front knee over your ankle and ground your back foot into the mat at a warrior angle. Interlace the hands behind your back and open your heart center. If it is available to you, bend forward with heart leading toward the inside of your front leg. This is a powerful pose that simultaneously stretches and strengthens your body. It is also one that teaches us to lead with the heart, and be humble in the pose.