Spiritual Practice


Robin Bradley Hansel

Not long ago, I taught myself to breathe again. Unlike traditional yoga, in which you relax as you exhale to facilitate a greater stretch, Pilates focuses on exhalation as the contraction of the deep, core abdominal muscle structure. The hardest part of the exercise occurs in the act of breathing out rather than in.

This was a difficult concept for me to learn. Suddenly, breathing out meant the opposite of relaxing, stretching, and releasing. It was all about strengthening, centering, and drawing inward. I felt a frustrating sense of mental disconnect and physical weakness.

I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being.
Ephesians 3:16 (NIV)

Yet each morning I practiced Pilates, and my exercise time gradually became my time alone with God. Silent centering and intent focusing on strengthening my body from within helped me learn to ask for Jesus’ help when the exercises were too difficult. Remembering that the Hebrew word for breath is also the word for spirit, I began to focus on this image as I worked out.

My practice of Pilates provided me with a new, exhilarating connection to the Holy Spirit. As I learned to let go and ask for help, I grew stronger in my body and my faith.


MAKE THE CONNECTION: Write about the ways you have experienced the connection between body and spirit. How has physical exercise strengthened your inner being?

—from devozine (March/April 2009). Copyright © 2009 by The Upper Room®. All rights reserved.

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