I am grateful to my wife for introducing me to a fitness program called DoxaSoma. Here’s a description of it from the DoxaSoma website:
DoxaSoma® is a physical practice which incorporates elements of stretching and strength building with prayer, worship and reflection upon the Word of God.
The word DoxaSoma is comprised of 2 Greek words:
Doxa, meaning "praise or honor"
Soma, meaning "body".
Every Monday night during Lent we attend a DoxaSoma session hosted by our church. I must say: I need it incredibly and always feel so refreshed afterwards. I find myself looking for times to practice it at home and have been able to do so at least once more each week so far. Of course, it would be best if I could practice it 3 or 4 times a week, but twice is better than nothing, right?
This morning I had the chance to practice a handful of the stretches for about a half hour and even that short amount of time is worth it.
I love how DoxaSoma truly integrates body, mind, spirit and emotions. Each stretch represents a spiritual posture. For example, among other stretches this morning I practiced the “hill and valley” stretch.
It seems like a very simple stretch at first but it yields great benefit. Here are a couple pictures to give you an idea how it looks.
Simple, right? Anyone can do it. (That’s another thing I like about DoxaSoma. You can adjust how you perform the stretches to suit your own level of fitness).
I think of it as being a kid again, using imagination in tandem with my body. At any rate, as I performed the hill and valley stretch this morning, I slowly breathed in and out, concentrating on taking in as deep a breath as I could on the valley portion of the stretch and breathing out fully on the hill portion of the stretch.
This deep breathing and stretching opened my mind. I found myself reflecting on moments in my own life that were like “mountaintops” or “valleys.” I found myself reflecting that when we feel the most tired and “out of breath” in the valleys of life, God enables us and invites us to “breathe in deeply”. Conversely, I reflected on what it could mean that on the mountaintop God invites us to “breathe out fully”.
And there was more: to make the hill part of the stretch, I realized that in tucking your chin close to your chest, you are making the gesture of being bowed low. I reflected that in my own life, my tendency is to do the opposite: when I am on the mountaintop I typically want to raise my head, lift it high. But that is when I realized that the Bible says those who are bowed low are those who are raised up. And…as we go through the valley, God lifts our head—which is exactly what the valley stretch portrays.
I found myself praying through the different spiritual movements of these stretches, bowed low and raised up, breathing in and breathing out, knowing that God can be found in both places: hill and valley. I offered to God in prayer my tendency to pride on the mountaintop and my various sorrows I encounter in the valley. The movements of stretching freed my mind and spirit to converse with God.
Because play integrates mind, body, spirit and emotion I find DoxaSoma a fine example of what PlayFull hopes to champion.
If you live here in Chicago, I invite you to come to the next session on Monday night at 7. Visit the DoxaSoma website here for more details.
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