I was new to Yoga. I felt awkward and it was more than just the fact that I was not very flexible; I also felt as if I was involved in something evil. Yoga had always been considered an unacceptable practice when I was a Christian. It was considered “ungodly” and possible dangerous, but that is probably part of the reason is why I took the class. I had very recently walked away from Christianity and was trying to expand my horizons—so to speak. The more I attended, the more I loved it, but there was still that little Christian voice inside my head keeping me on guard and, I think, holding me back a little. As fate would have it though, I would learn a wonderful lesson.
Many times, since leaving Christianity, I have had a seemingly insignificant moment that ended up having a powerful impact on me. A moment like that took place during one of my Yoga classes. We were attempting a difficult pose and I was struggling; I couldn’t hold on to it. I tried over and over again, only to once again falter. Then the yoga master said two simple words, simple to most, but to me they were pivotal: Trust yourself,” she said softly. I took the words in and possibly for the very first time in my life, without guilt, I trusted myself. It was magical. I felt strong, balanced and confident. I felt as if I could hold the pose forever. I was amazed. It was one of those moments–the kind I spoke of earlier. I can trust myself. Epiphany!
As a Christian, I had been taught to trust only in God. To trust myself, would have meant giving glory to myself instead of God and that was considered a sin and unacceptable. It was one of my struggles as a Christian—one of my many secret “sins.” In an effort to be a more “godly woman,” I spent many years learning not trust in myself. That day, in Yoga class, I chose to let go of those constraints. I trusted myself and it was so good. I love the moments when I am able to take one of the many damaging, fundamentalist messages out of my head and let it fly, lightening my load and bringing me closer to mental health and freedom.
I realize that many Christians would say that they are mentally healthy and free, but how can that be? How can people feel healthy and free when they are taught that trusting in themselves, following their instincts and using their thinking minds make them sinners and abhorrent to God? The longer I am out of the Christian world, the more I see just how damaging some of the seemingly harmless teachings and messages are. The more ex-Christians I come to know and the more I see their struggles, their wounds and their scars, the more I agree with the late Christopher Hitchens: “God is not Great…religion poisons everything.”
Just recently my son was standing at the free throw line during a very close game. As he stood their getting ready to shoot, I yelled, “You can do this. Trust yourself.” Swoosh! All net baby!