Yoga teaches us there is no separation between the body, mind and spirit, that everything is connected. When we practice asana (the poses), the obvious benefits are strength and flexibility, but this practice is also a ritual. When we use our practice to recommit to our purpose and align our intentions with grace, it becomes an embodied prayer. Using our bodies to pray, each movement becomes a reflection of our devotion. The way we place our hands or move our feet becomes an offering. Energy moves in, through and beyond, connecting us to each thought and uniting each other through consciousness. Yoga without prayer is calisthenics; it has physical benefits but won't necessarily transform your life. Include an intention, and the practice engages us to see beyond the body and into the invisible through-line that bonds us all regardless of race, religion, gender or sexual orientation.
So we moved together, breath-by-breath, movement-by-movement, and dedicated each movement and every breath to our relationship with the divine and to each other. We prayed for the incredible people we met at the birthing center and clinic the day before, dedicating our movements in gratitude and understanding to the midwives, doctors and nurses who work tirelessly to provide care. We prayed for the scared mamas that they know comfort and support in their births. We prayed for the unborn babies that their lives be healthy and abundant. We prayed in sisterhood to the local village women who welcomed us into their homes, cooked us food, asked us questions and treated us like family. Using our bodies, we prayed for their health, knowing they all are HIV positive and that some don't have access to the ARV drugs necessary to ensure their continued survival. We did salutations, each movement an offering to their children, hopeful they will have an opportunity to get an education and that they too remain healthy. We did standing poses in gratitude to our own families and friends who made space in their lives so that we may take this journey. We did back bends, our flesh stretching and our breaths in unison, for the red, fertile earth, and made a continued commitment to live upon her more respectfully. We did forward bends in the name of peace and inversions in the name of harmony and in the name of that which connects us all: God. It was emotional for all of us to pray and move like this, experiencing the interdependency of body and breath, of the connectivity between you and I, we moved as one, as we are and will always be. I smiled as I witnessed the men and women from the village gathered to watch, peering at us curiously. To my absolute delight, some even mimicked our movements, stretching and bending, arms raised to the sky, unknowingly joining us in our prayer.