After nearly a decade of practice, I’ve come to realize that yoga is just a series of ordinary, everyday movements: standing, bending, reaching, sitting, even breathing.
But what keeps these ordinary, everyday movements from getting really boring,
and what makes yoga continue to be a pretty challenging and effective work out, even year after year,
For me, yoga class is one opportunity each week to really pay attention. I pay attention to how I am moving, and I become aware of how the hours of sitting at a desk, the stress of the week, and plain old gravity have taken a toll. I pay attention and readjust. When I am paying attention, there is the opportunity to set things right. I practice going through the motions in an intentional, mindful way, and it makes a difference for the rest of the week.
Over time our faith practices can start to seem like we’re just “going through the motions.” The danger of going on autopilot, just coasting along in our faith, is that it is too easy to drift. When we stop paying attention, the forces of the world pull us out of alignment. And when we aren’t really paying attention to what Jesus is saying, we’re definitely not following where he is leading. If even Peter needed a faith readjustment (see Mark 8:33), how much more do we?
So along comes Lent.
Whether it is the practice of fasting from something (see ya later chocolate!), adding a devotional practice (hello small catechism!), or spending more time in prayer (hello again, God!), the season of Lent offers us the opportunity to pay attention to the movements of faith. Each one of these practices shakes up our daily routine just enough that we have to pay closer attention.
When we no longer can mindlessly grab a chocolate, or soda, or whatever, what else might we start noticing? When we plan to be at the Wednesday night Lenten services, what other demands on our time must we say no to? When we make time for prayer in our day, what are the distractions that we must clear away?
Even small changes to our daily routine remind us, that it isn’t the big, bold moves that make a strong faith. Instead, it is the ordinary, everyday motions done with intention that help us, one step at a time, to keep following Jesus.