I met Heather NeRoy here in Denver through our shared passion for helping others to encounter God in and through their bodies. Heather is a Christian yoga teacher and coach. I have wanted to collaborate with her since we first met, and it is an absolute pleasure to get to share her personal, Biblically grounded and practical guidance into prayer and movement.
Written by Heather NeRoy from Heart Soul Mind Yoga
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength.” Mark 12:30
I can still smell the finger paint and see the colorful rug depicting the story of Noah’s Ark. I’m one of twelve other three and four year olds, sitting on the floor of Miss Debbie’s preschool classroom, listening as she tells us that this week’s memory verse is Mark 12:30. To help us memorize the verse, Miss Debbie shows us how we can use our bodies to represent each word. We put little hands over our hearts to represent the word ‘love,’ point to the heavens for ‘Lord your God,’ form hearts by cupping our hands into ‘c’s and resting fingertips together in front of us for ‘heart,’ point to the bottom of our shoes for ‘soul,’ tap our heads for ‘mind,’ and flex our biceps for ‘strength.’ Miss Debbie knew the power of linking movement to meditation.
I’m all grown up, now, and carrying on Miss Debbie’s legacy as a teacher. Through my ministry, Heart Soul Mind Yoga, I teach people from ages 3 to 103 the sacred practice of worshiping God through movement and meditation. Even though I can’t hum a single note in tune, I consider myself a worship leader first, and yoga teacher second.
In each of my classes, I lead people through worship by inviting them to put their prayers in motion. Sometimes, I’ll take an idea, like that found in John 13:34 “love others as I have loved you” and put it into motion, guiding students to reach up as though they are receiving God’s love, and then reach their arms out to a T shape to extend that love to others. These simple motions aren’t just for preschoolers, linking movement to meditation strengthens the body, the mind, and the connection between the two.
In Acts 17:28, Paul tells us that it is “in Him we move and breathe and have our being.” When we take this idea off the page & onto our yoga mat or our lives, we begin to discover that a posture of prayer isn’t about any specific shape we make in our bodies, it’s about the posture of our heart. Once we realize it’s less about the body and more about the heart, everything has the potential to become worship. Mundane tasks like taking the dog for a walk, doing the dishes, filing paperwork... it’s all worship when the posture of our heart is one of worship. The tools I teach in class are tools that I hope my students take off their mats and into their daily lives.
Breath Prayer One tool I use to posture my heart towards worship is breath prayer. The practice of breath prayer is the intentional linking of our breath with a word or short phrase. Breathing comes naturally. It is automatic, continuous, and involuntary. When we let our inhales and our exhales represent an intentionally chosen prayer, we live out Paul's instructions in 1 Thessalonians 5:17 to "pray without ceasing".
For just a moment, draw your awareness to your breath. Place one hand on your heart and one hand on your belly. Notice your inhales & your exhales. On your next inhale, try to fill up your belly with breath, like it’s an expanding balloon. On your exhale, purse your lips like you are blowing out a candle. Repeat. On your next inhale, in the quiet of your heart, pray “You are” and on your exhale, “Trustworthy.” Continue breathing & praying it out for several cycles. Breath prayer can be done anywhere and anytime to recenter your heart to a posture of prayer.
Lectio Divina Scripture Meditation
Another tool I use to posture my heart towards worship is Lectio Divina scripture meditation. While this is traditionally done in a quiet environment while sitting or laying still, I believe that God’s Word doesn’t need us to create the perfect environment. His Word is living & active and can reach us regardless of where we are or what we are doing. I’ll often choose a verse to meditate on as I go about my work and chores. Lectio Divina is less about memorizing Bible trivia or timelines, and more about receiving a deep, heart knowledge of God’s invitation in scripture. I like to choose a short passage from a contemporary scripture paraphrase like Deuteronomy 30:20a from The Message. Read this passage this first time, without any need to capture or understand anything and let your soul soak in God’s Word. “Choose to love the Lord your God and to obey Him, for He is your life and the length of your days.” Read the passage a second time through, this time aware of any specific words, phrases, or ideas that stand out for you. Grab hold of whatever stands out & take a quiet moment to meditate on that word, phrase, or idea. Read the passage through a third time, this time looking for a word or phrase that tells the truth about who God is, or who He says you are. Grab hold of that truth, take a few moments to meditate on it, knowing it has the power to change the way you walk out your days. Lastly, read the passage once more, allowing your soul to soak in the Word of God.
Posture of Prayer Ultimately, I truly believe a posture of prayer starts with the posture of our hearts, but as a yoga teacher, I’ve witnessed the power in posturing one’s body in prayer and worship as well. The Bible gives dozens of examples of God’s people posturing their bodies in prayer. In yoga, as we move through class, we take on these different postures, feeling them in our bodies, recognizing how each seems to carry a different energy or purpose. In the Bible, when people stood to pray, these prayers were often prayers of praise. When people sat to pray, these prayers were often prayers asking for help. Prayers offered up from a kneeling position were usually prayers of surrender. Prayers prayed from the prone position were usually prayers of urgency, desperation, or repentance. Prayers offered lying down were typically prayers of rest in the presence of God. Take a moment right now to posture your heart and your body in prayer. Choose to take one or two of these postures in your body as you offer the prayer of your heart to the Lord.
The Lord's Prayer Moving Meditation
One of my favorite yoga flows to teach is Sun Salutation A paced to The Lord’s Prayer. Maybe this brings out the Miss Debbie in me, but I love linking each posture with the words of Jesus. It’s my joy to offer you this 15-minute video class. https://youtu.be/zmJ06xTkLeY I’d be honored if you’d join me as I guide you through experiencing prayer in motion.
The word yoga, at it’s most simple definition, means to unite. In Christian yoga, we unite our breath, our movement and our prayers with one purpose: to worship.
Practice with Heather
When not “safer at home,” Heather NeRoy teaches 5 weekly Jesus + Yoga classes in Parker & Larkspur. She is available to teach at special events such as church retreats, Vacation Bible Schools, MOPS, birthday parties, bridal showers, and, yes, even goat yoga. During “safer at home” she offers weekly video classes and meditations to everyone on her email list.
Click here to join Heather’s email list. https://mailchi.mp/843fc8445c48/hsmyvirtualstudio
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