Some of you who saw my recent fitness photos on Facebook have been asking what they were all about. WholyFit is a Christian alternative to yoga that offers fitness workouts for body, soul and spirit. Sessions are taught by well trained fitness professionals using exercise techniques that meet industry standards. Carrie is one such instructor. I’ve known her since she was a child and I took a series of classes from her a couple of years ago. When she introduced a 12 day fitness challenge on her Facebook page earlier this month, I decided to give it a try.
I know that there are some Christians who believe that we should never bend our body into yoga-like poses because in doing so we are bowing to false gods. What absolute poppycock! In very simple terms, yoga is a spiritual and ascetic discipline which includes breath control, meditation, and the adoption of specific bodily positions that are designed to be relaxing and to increase physical strength and stamina. While yoga has its roots in ancient eastern religious thought, it is not a religion and it definitely doesn’t own the poses!
As with anything else, it’s a matter of intentionality. The Bible tells us, whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31). As long as we don’t become obsessed with our own physique, when we take care of our bodies, we honour and glorify the God who made them and we equip ourselves to be better able to do the work He gives us to do. If we contemplate or meditate on His Word or His works while we stretch and pose, so much the better!
On December 5, Carrie posted the first challenge. Each day participants were to practice the pose at home, snap a selfie, and post it on their Facebook page. The idea was to try to hold each pose for 5 to 10 breath cycles (inhale and exhale). In some cases, I was able to do that quite easily. In others, not so much! The entire exercise took two weeks to complete because, in accordance with scripture, Sundays were a day of rest. For those of you who haven’t already seen my photos, I’m including all of them in this post. Since Richard is already well practiced at taking photos for the blog and it isn’t easy to take selfies while holding the poses, he acted as my willing photographer.
Day 1 – Cross Balance
This pose was very similar to one that I’d been working on in a Balance and Mobility program that was recently offered by Alberta Health Services. Though I can hold it significantly longer than I could at first, I’d eventually like to be able to lift my back leg higher and keep it straighter.
Day 2 – Side Shield
I honestly wasn’t sure I’d be able to do this pose and was delighted to find that I could!
Day 3 – Bell
This one looked easier, but it wasn’t as simple as I thought it would be.
Day 4 – Overcomer Side
I discovered after the fact that the palms of my hands should have been upward instead of down on this one which would have engaged different muscles. Oops!
Day 5 – Candlestick
As opposed to being a static pose, this one involves slowing lowering yourself into this position and then reversing back up to a standing position keeping the heels lifted throughout.
Day 6 – Sword
Carrie gave us two versions of this one and I opted for the simpler one. She advised that we not try the more advanced version unless we had first practiced this one sufficiently as it requires greater shoulder strength. Though lifting weights and paddling the kayak have given me fairly strong shoulders, I knew that I’d best leave the advanced version for the younger set and not take a chance on injuring myself. As on Day 1, I was surprised at how difficult it was to fully straighten my extended leg.
Carrie designated Day 7 Blooper Wednesday. Her instructions were: Post your best blooper picture (if you’ve got one). Spend some time practicing 1 or 2 postures that you’ve worked on so far. Reflect on all the ways God is making you NEW and thank him for it 💕Since I’ve been weeding out photos and getting rid of ones I don’t want to keep, I didn’t have a blooper photo to post, but the latter part of her message resonated with me. Have you ever stopped to ponder how truly amazing our bodies are? Though my body is riddled with cancer and there are various parts that don’t work as well as they once did, I can walk, dance, kayak, hike, ride a bike, hug a loved one, lift weights, and bend into and balance in all sorts of poses! I can hear, see, taste, talk, think, and reason. I have so much to be thankful for!
Day 8 – Breastplate
Again, Carrie gave us two versions and this time I was able to do the more advanced one!
Day 9 – Forward Dove
This one definitely needs work. Again, it was a challenge to get the extended leg as straight as it ought to be and I kept threatening to tip over before Richard could get a picture!
By Day 10, the poses were getting more difficult and I wondered if I’d be able to do the final two! Carrie’s instructions for this one were to drop one hand or two to the heels. One hand I could do, but two was an impossibility! I simply can’t arch my back that much.
Day 11 – Shield of Faith and Fire Extinguisher
Carrie gave us two poses to try on Day 11. The idea was to hold the first pose, Shield of Faith, and then drop one hip to the floor and move into the second pose, Fire Extinguisher. That one just felt like I was relaxing on the floor!
As it turns out, I had nothing to worry about back on Day 10! The final two days weren’t too difficult after all. Overall, I’m pretty proud of what this 66 year old body was able to do.
If exercise, getting in shape, particularly increasing balance and flexibility, are on your list of New Year’s resolutions, I’d definitely suggest giving WholyFit a try. It’s more than just an exercise program as it offers faith centred health and wellness ministering to spirit and soul as well as body. If there isn’t a trained instructor in your area or you prefer to exercise at home rather than attending a group session, DVDs and video downloads are available on the website.
“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.” 2 Corinthians 4:16