“Thank your muscles for for working hard. Thank your lungs for breathing in the air. Thank your heart for pumping the red blood cells that carry the oxygen throughout your body,” she would say as we wound down with a few simple stretches before savasana. The yoga instructor would invite us to thank our body for all that we had done in class.
Honestly, I found it kind of odd. So, I didn’t do it.
Why in the world would you thank your body?
It seemed silly to me. I’ve never really thanked my body when I’ve worked out while exercising. Yes, I can remember the many times in gymnastics where I was so very thankful that we were done with push-ups, or pull-ups, or running around and around and around the building. I was glad the pain had stopped! The arms were no longer quivering as I pushed or pulled my body weight around. The lungs had stopped burning. I was finished.
This is often the common theme of thanks when I’m exercising. I’m thankful the pain has stopped. I made it through.
So practice after practice the invitations to thank my body seemed strange. They also seemed a bit misplaced.
Isn’t it God that deserves the thanks?
It was really in recognizing this that my perspective on this time of thanks in yoga changed.
I began to ponder the fact that our body is a gift. God formed Adam from the dust of the ground and Eve from Adam’s rib. He carefully crafted them, with bodies—a gift from God, just as the life that He breathed into them.
“God looked over all he had made, and he saw that it was very good.” Genesis 1:31 NLT
What a special gift our body is. God made us with a body. It is the way He has enabled us to interact with the world around us. It is because of this, our spirituality is never separate from our physicality. They go hand in hand.
Isn’t this something to be thankful for?
When we are grateful for a gift, we give thanks to the giver of the gift.
I saw the possibilities of this in the yoga invitation.
I think traditionally practiced this time of thanking the body actually seeks to glorify the body rather than the Maker of it.
Yet, I thought it was possible to alter the way this was practiced. Instead of thanking my body, I would thank the one who made it, God.
It was a new practice and one that I found to bring delight as I really thought about the intricate systems that enabled me to do all that a yoga practice requires, all that a day requires. I discovered that at the end of the practice when I am tired I realize that I’m reliant upon God to sustain me both physically and spiritually. He provides. That is a reason to give thanks.
In thanking God for my body and allowing me to care for it, I practice yoga in a way that honors Him.
Grace and peace be ours in abundance as we seek to honor God with our bodies, giving thanks to Him for all that they allow us to do, mindful that they are the temple of the Holy Spirit, in Christ.