By Katie Burns
When was the last time you took a deep breath in and allowed your exhalation to cause you to grow heavy, completely consumed by the love of God?
I was a competitive swimmer for 16 years - from the time I was a little girl until my last college race as a senior. This past weekend actually marked 5 years of swimming retirement. I was talking to a good friend about it, explaining that I have often felt like a fish out of water during these past several years. Swimming was not only my balance; it was my identity.
During the past few years, I have been in an on and off again relationship with running. As much as I try not to, I treat running as another competitive sport, demanding perfection from my body. The truth is that I don’t want to compete right now.
I believe that it is important for everyone to find something that helps keep them grounded, which is why I have recently gotten back into yoga. I found the cutest little yoga studio close by to my house. Its walls offer peace, and it has incredible teachers, full of passion and a desire to welcome and help others. When I stumbled upon it, I instantly knew I needed to be there, and when I didn’t know how I could make it work financially, they offered me the opportunity to volunteer in exchange for free classes. I very gratefully accepted.
Now, I am good at swimming and not bad at running, but I will just come right out and tell you, I am not good at yoga in a flexible sense. During most of the practice, my knees are bent for support. Yoga is not about flexibility though. Rather, it is about finding your breath and allowing it to calm yourself down and replace negative thoughts with inner strength and joy.
Yoga is all about creating openness. As we move through the practice, we are called to relax our muscles, allowing the poses to slowly peel back the outer layers of ourselves. These past few weeks, I’ve started to feel my stiff legs begin to soften again. I feel God there with me on my mat, working both through and with me. God is not only helping me to peel back these outer layers, but also helping me to let them go, falling to the floor and simply melting away.
I am rediscovering my goodness through yoga. At the conclusion of each practice, we meet in a seated position on our mat, hands folded in front of our hearts and our eyes gazing downward. We bow to each other as we say “namaste,” which is a way to honor the goodness in one another - the place inside each of us which is of love, light, peace and joy.
Find your breath now. I am serious, try it. Take a deep breath in…release now and surrender. Because ultimately, that is all we are. Our identity is rooted in breath as living beings of God’s creation. Bask in that, my friends. Namaste.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Hi everyone, my name is Katie Burns! I live in Cincinnati and am the Director of Campus Ministry at St. Mary's Church working with the college students at Miami University in Oxford. Fr. H.Paul Kim first introduced me to his idea of the Living Person in 2010 when he encouraged me to do two things: pray and run. Since then I've fallen in love with this concept and challenged myself in a variety of ways. I most enjoy swimming, running, yoga, laughing obnoxiously loud, dancing, and all aspects of Ignatian Spirituality.