Evening Stretches: Yoga + Book Discussion


Whenever I reflect on the past year and a half, I am honored and humbled that the Lord has been able to use someone as introverted and faint-hearted as me to lead something as powerful and transformative as yoga. He has called me to this role so completely out of my comfort zone that I have had moments of paralyzing anxiety. Looking back, I still wonder how I got through this particular period of crippling fear when embarking upon my journey to teach yoga. Yet, it is through this process, this breaking me open and showing me the depth of my own weakness so I can have child-like dependance on Him, that He has been ingraining in me the very lessons I am "teaching" my students. Ahh, the way the God of the universe works is far more creative and clever than I can ever begin to fathom. For it is said that teaching is the best way to learn, and so here I am, the teacher because I am always and most critically the student. And I am a stubborn student. I question and doubt the Lord's plans for me because often they are just scary enough to direct my focus back to my own inadequacies. When I don't heed His calling, however, He grows silent. It's as if He's saying, "how can you step into the beauty of who I have called you to be if you don't trust me?" This tug-of-war within myself and with God has shown me that when He gives me a sure sense of direction, the best response is thankfulness. I know that I had better go down the path He has laid before me wether I feel confident or not. In fear, faith has all the more meaning, so in fear and faith I walk. These most scary of ventures are usually the most rewarding and produce the most spiritual growth, though often the process is a bit painful. Preceding this growth, I now say to myself with nervous excitement, "I am about to be stretched."

I've come to see that the stretching that happens on the yoga mat is far from only physical. There is a supernatural stretching that happens here as well. Through the melding of body, mind, and spirit into one, there is an expansion of all three. This refining process has become essential to my own well being, particularly since I invited the Lord into my practice and began devoting it to Him as worship. He brings me right into His midst, which I can only seem to access when I am in the present. In other words, being "present in His presence," (the tag line for Alpha Yoga Omega), is the only way to truly LIVE. Otherwise we are existing somewhere that we are not, such as the confines of the mind, being ruled by our emotions, or numbing ourselves to the human experience entirely. And surely one cannot be in tune with the Holy in this state? Yet, often times being present is HARD. It is painful and terrifying and exhilarating and joyful and high and low like a rollercoaster; but such is life. This is the ride we are chosen to ride, and through this process of living comes the refining and the stretching. My dear friend, Abbie Smith (Sprunger), an amazingly gifted author, lovely wife, dignified momma of three, and an illuminator of treasures found in the mundane, has recently written a book on this stretching of which I talk about. Her book, "Stretch Marks I Wasn't Expecting," is a memoir from a broken, human perspective on the ways in which she has been uncomfortably and unexpectedly stretched. In her candidly, thoughtful way, she pours out her heart in such a deep and personal manner, the reader is able to recognize themselves in her words. Abbie invites you to journey alongside her so you too can grow from the discomfort of these often shameful or suppressed thoughts and emotions and find true healing in the stretching. This is especially true when one realizes that we have a Savior who is able to "sympathize with our weakness" and a heavenly Father who is in the business of making "beauty from our ashes."

So when Abbie proposed us joining forces: book club + yoga, located on a dock on Savannah's only and infamous, "wider than a mile," Moon River, I knew the Lord was behind such a dream. Coat tailing on her book release this weekend:

Saturday, October 7th, 4-6 pm at the Whitefield Center
(all proceeds go to Hope Academy & We Welcome Refugees),

We will be hosting a 6 week series called "Evening Stretches."
Every Sunday from 4 to 6 pm, we will be gathering on the dock at the beautiful, Wesley Gardens Retreat filling our time with 1 hour of gentle, Christ-centered yoga and 1 hour of yummy book discussion for "Stretch Marks I Wasn't Expecting." This is a call to stretch in both expected and unexpected ways; really with the intention of learning to be a little more human, engaging fully in our brokenness so we may more fully receive the grace that is offered to us right now, in each and every moment. It would be an honor for YOU to join us in this stretching.

Sundays (October 8th - November 12th) 4 - 6 pm
on the dock @ Wesley Gardens Retreat

278 Shipyard Rd, Savannah, Georgia 31406
*bring your mat, $5, a copy of "Stretch Marks I Wasn't Expecting"
(option to buy one here), and of course your lovely self.

Written by Jane Saunders