(A few weeks ago, I wrote about desiring more focus on the breath in church. One intersection between yoga and Christianity is to bring yoga into the church; one of the ways I do this is by leading a body prayer. Printed below is a Call to Worship I wrote last week on a writing retreat. If you reproduce this in your own church, you may want to place the bolded parts on slides for the congregation to read aloud.)
Call to Worship
Jesus says, “Come.”
As we come to worship, we find our breath. Notice your breath. Notice it flow in and out of your body. Where in your body are you breathing? What is rising and falling? Your chest? Your ribs? Your stomach? As you come to prayer today, how does your breath feel? Is it deep? strained? shallow? graceful? ragged?
Jesus says, “Come to me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.” (Mt. 11:28)
Place your hands on your stomach. Draw the breath into the belly. Feel the stomach rise and fall.
Move your hands to the sides of your stomach. Draw the breath into the sides of the body. Feel the whole ribs and stomach rise and fall. Pause at the end of the inhale. Pause at the end of the exhale.
God says to these bones, “Watch this: I am putting my life-breath into you and you will come to life.” (Ez. 37:5)
Deepen your breath, drawing the life-breath deeper into your body. Feel the breath push against your ribs, your hips. Feel the breath push against your feet.
We respond – please repeat after me:
“Come, Lord Jesus. Put your life-breath in me.”
Come, Lord Jesus. Put your life-breath in me.
Send your hands out to the sides of your body like angel’s wings, palms up. Notice the center of your breastbone, and imagine God has a direct line here to your heart. God is tugging on that line, lifting your heart. So lift your heart to the Lord in a mini-backbend. Feel this lift all the way from your feet.
With your next inhale, sweep your arms up overhead, looking up to Jesus. With your next exhale, say “Come Lord Jesus” as you bring your hands down in front of your heart.
Come, Lord Jesus.
Come and see what the Lord has done,
see the marvels of God!
God plants flowers and trees all over the earth,
God makes wars cease.
God breaks the bow and shatters the spear,
bans weapons from pole to pole.
God says, “Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted in the earth.”
The Lord Almighty is with us,
present in our breath and our worship.