I was looking for a long-term solution to managing the chronic, verging on debilitating, pain in my neck sustained from a car accident. A friend suggested I try yoga to strengthen my core and stretch and rehabilitate my somewhat tight and sore back and neck muscles.
As I wasn’t aware that I was after anything else, you can imagine my surprise when I discovered that as well as helping my body to recover from the trauma of the accident, yoga was taking me on a deep, spiritual journey that connected me with a God I wasn’t sure existed.
At first I didn’t know if I even wanted to be on this journey because when I was a young child, watching my parents suffer the agony of a messy divorce, I decided that if there was a God he wasn’t doing me or my family any favors, so I blocked him from my life. That said, I could never quite stomach the argument that life has no meaning and that everything that happens in the universe does so randomly.
As yoga started to help me heal my broken body, it triggered some subterranean thinking about I believed was driving and creating life. I started asking myself is there a God and if so what is God and where is God. This beautiful quote about the true meaning of God from biologist Jeremy Griffith brings me much warmth “Yes, regardless of the various names of God used by the different faiths, the most central of the attributes of God is that God is love”.
I began studying the origins of yoga to try and gain a better understanding of why I was having this sudden connection to God. I think this quote from well-know yoga author Stella Weller, sums it up well: "The word yoga comes from Sanskrit, the language of ancient India. It means union, integration, or wholeness. It is an approach to health that promotes the harmonious collaboration of the human being's three components: body, mind, and spirit." It really is a physical and spiritual exercise all wrapped into one–no wonder downward dog and other such poses were giving me more than I’d bargained for!
Interestingly, as well as the pain in my body easing, a sense of calm and stability is entering my usually chaotic life. I find it quite exciting and liberating and I hope that by sharing why I think yoga has impacted me in this way, it might bring some solace to others out there struggling to understand the complexities of life.
Yoga has helped me find peace within myself. While it was painful on my body to start with, I persevered and I now crave the time it gives me to myself. I’ve started to seek that time outside of yoga. I’ve found myself swapping nights out drinking with the girls for nights in delving into the spiritual world so I can better understand God. I’m no Bible basher but I’ve even found some peace from reading the holy book. I love this from John 14:27: Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.
Hope & Meaning
I am beginning to appreciate that there is a spiritual element to our world that we often overlook or neglect or ignore depending on the competing pressures in our busy, frenetic lives. That this spiritual element could possibly be what religious people refer to as God brings me much comfort. It allows me to think that just maybe, one day everything might be right in the world.
Since my parent’s divorce ruined any early relationship I might have had with God, I’ve spent much of my life confused and worried about whether or not we humans are innately selfish. But yoga has assured me otherwise, simply because I have met some special people who, since I started practicing, have extended an incredible amount of kindness toward me. Their selflessness has been confronting on one level but it’s also softened me and I’ve found myself even wanting to help others, which is a relief.
Guidance & Love
Like most of my friends I have lived a fairly rudderless life, changing jobs as soon as boredom set in, moving house regularly and having problems holding down a serious relationship. But since discovering my yoga/God connection it’s like I have this strong compass telling me what path to take. It’s been quite strange but I am settling down, I’ve met a wonderful man and am feeling content for the first time in my life.
Above all I am discovering happiness. Whether I’m inverted in downward dog or buried in the bible searching for new gems of meaning and spirituality, the struggles and hardships of my life seem irrelevant and a long way away. So I have much to be thankful for in discovering yoga and with that God
As a yoga convert, Ashlea Jones finds it difficult not to try to convert everyone she comes into contact with! While her body and her mind are nourished by yoga she also finds sustenance in the work from the World Transformation Movement about God, the human condition, love… everything really. Make you own mind up here!