When I started teaching yoga several years ago, I received some public scrutiny from my community.
A community that I had been a part of most of my life. Good, but fearful people of what they really didn’t understand were accusing me of everything from running a cult to blatantly accusing me of not believing in God. It was at times very hurtful and I didn’t like it at all. However, I did have my students at the time that supported me when things would get trying and help me realize that they wanted my classes and the community would come around. 10 years later I am happy to say that my little studio is a part of the community and either the nay sayers have realized that they were wrong or I simply stopped paying them any mind.
Although I have always believed in God I have not always been a church goer or someone who has really bought into the “organized religion” thing.
Or at least I hadn’t for many years. There had been a time in my life that I had gone to church pretty regularly with either my Methodist mother, or riding the church bus to Sunday school with all the other kids, or in my early teenage years, going with my brother, the minister. I don’t remember when I stopped but it was sometime in my teenage years. I found church to be boring and sleeping in on Sunday seemed to be a better use of my time.
Then as a young girl I found myself in a life changing event, I contracted an illness that almost took my life. In fact, on my eighteenth birthday I could barely sit alone.
No this isn’t one of those blogs about how I almost died and thought I needed to get back to church.
In fact, it is the opposite. The illness took me farther away. I felt as though there was so much hypocrisy’s in churches that it was not something I wanted in my life. My relationship with God was my business and my business alone. Or at least that was what I kept telling myself. The reality was, although at my young age I did not have the rational to put it into words or even into a cognitive thought process, but in my own young way I felt as though God had let me down.
And I did struggle with my relationship with the Divine for many years. I also struggled with an inner war of sorts, a negative dialogue even though I actually had a pretty great life. I constantly struggled with a feelings of this isn’t real, it will not last, the other shoe is going to drop any time now. In other words—no faith.
Then I found yoga! And the choir sang!
Well not right away, but I had found something in my life that could not be taken away, as long as I could breath yoga would be a part of my life. As I kept my practice going I started noticing all of these changes, I was starting to feel like I was strong enough to withstand whatever was thrown at me, no matter what happened I would be taken care of. It made me feel so good that I wanted to spread the word and introduce others to its healing abilities. So I got certified to teach and opened my studio. That’s when the scrutiny started.
Again I felt God was letting me down. How could I be judged for something that had done so much good for me and others? But the fact of the matter was, that most of the people who walked into my studio were good Christian people who did not judge me on anything. They loved my classes and many are still with me to this day.
Many, many times I would be lovingly invited to their respective churches and many, many times I respectably declined.
They finally stopped asking but it didn’t change their opinion of me or my classes. Then one day a very lovely long time student of mine was leaving and I mentioned to her that my daughter, a new mom, was looking for a good used piano so she could stay home with her baby and give piano lessons. She told me that there was a need for someone to play at her church and it paid and she would be able to bring the baby with her.
Her first day to play was Easter Sunday. So it has been a year. Shortly after she started playing she started telling me how she thought I would like the church, that I knew most of the people and it was pretty laid back and Pastor John gave a good talk. Oh no, my daughter was becoming one of them! How could this be? Don’t get me wrong, I was thrilled she had found this for herself, but I don’t know. I don’t think it will be my cup of tea.
When Christmas came it was on Sunday this year, my daughter asked us to please come to church as she was playing a special song and wanted us to hear. We went but weren’t sure about it. What we found was that we knew almost everybody, it was pretty laid back and Pastor John gave a good talk..we went again and have gone several times since.
This morning as I watched my little granddaughter walk through waving a palm leaf for Palm Sunday I realized that through yoga I had made a connection that reminded me that I had not lost my faith in God as much as I had just been lost. I know that we are where we are supposed to be every moment for whatever reason we may or may not understand. Sometimes there is great joy and sometimes there is great suffering and it is all for our growth.
I believe that my yoga practice was a gift from God and had I not discovered it I may not have found my way back.
So for all the people who do not understand the way that God works sometimes, I will remind you, it was God who brought me om. Plain and simple. He brought me to a place of great suffering and then to a place a great joy to which led me back to Him. And through that I have been given a great gift, that in turn has helped others who may be struggling. So for that, I am eternally grateful for my family, my practice, my students, and most of all, my God.
Kat Robinson is the owner of Active Kat Yoga and the author of “I Almost Died! Reinventing Yourself With Yoga and Meditation After Traumatic Illness or Injury.” She and her husband Brett live in the beautiful Missouri Ozarks where they are “reinventing” a 100-year-old hospital into their home and studio. She is an avid embroiderer and is the developer of Sewing Yoga, a therapeutic yoga program for those who sew or work at a desk for extended periods of time. She also self-produced the corresponding DVD Sewing Yoga.
Editor: Tanya L. Markul