There is nothing like running on great trails while being surrounded by His amazing creation. This was my experience as I ran in Maui earlier this year. As I was descending down some gnarly trails in Haleakalā National Park, I was constantly challenged to keep my eyes on the path rather than by the beauty all around. A wrong step could result in being sliced open by the treacherous lava rock or worse.
Eventually I let my mind drift and eyes wonder off the task at hand. I let my body relax and BAM! My ankle rolled, I began to stumble, but fortunately I remained vertical and on the ledge. Immediately, after thanking the good Lord for saving me, I thought of my yoga class!
I began to take a yoga class once a week after my amazing experience at the 2006 NYC marathon. Dan Brown was the first professional athlete to pace me that day and told me how yoga was part of the routine at Nike for many athletes. I took his advice by taking classes at my local YMCA. While I am not always consistent with my attendance, I found that it definitely did help me with my core strength, balance, and flexibility. In fact, I have generally become more disciplined when I have had IT band issues, Piriformis, or other typical running injuries since many poses are conducive to healing and recovery.
My primary focus in class has always been on the physical pose rather than the spiritual comments that sometimes conflict with my faith. However one frequent reminder that entered my thoughts on the side of this beautiful volcano after nearly falling was to “keep your whole body engaged”. I know I am not alone in yoga class when I focus on the leg or arm where I am putting the majority of my body weight during a balance pose. As a result of this effort, I will often ignore the opposite side that impacts the overall form and desired benefit.
Whether in yoga, running on trails, or other activities, keeping one’s entire body engaged can mean the difference of mediocre vs optimal performance or even life or death depending on the situation.
Yoga and Christianity is a topic that is controversial and I will only say that I appreciate the conflict many have. However there are several wonderful Christian brothers and sisters who take the same class as I do. Collectively we recognize the physical benefits of the practice while spiritually working just as hard to keep our focus on the cross.
Maintaining that focus can be a real challenge when technology infiltrates all areas of our lives. The news is overwhelmingly depressing and society is becoming increasingly hostile to our beliefs. I am amazed how we can sit in church on Sunday and often forget everything we were taught or reminded of by Monday (or as we walk to our cars after the service).
As I continued to run on that gorgeous Hawaiian landscape, I reflected on the idea of engagement, not only of the body, but of the spirit. It was a powerful reminder that taking our eyes off the trail or the Lord can often have negative consequences either seen or unseen.
So let’s all make sure we stay on the path, remain engaged, and be thankful for each and every step!
“Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” – Hebrews 12:2
Exciting Announcement: October 17th is the 5-year anniversary of Doylestown Christian Runners. Please come out and join us if you are in the area!