Downward Facing Dog: My Body is a Temple
By. Megan Febuary
“Exhale, Downward Facing Dog. Tuck your toes, lift your hips up and back. Lengthen through your spine, press through your heels,” said every vinyasa teacher everywhere. I’m not going to lie, I couldn’t stand this posture for the longest time. It wasn’t just the difficulty of the pose, although the strength it called forth was especially challenging. No, there was something more to the physicality of this posture, it was calling me to something profoundly spiritual.
When I prepare for Adho Mukha Svanasana, I am pitching my tent, my intention, and my soul’s purpose. I recall the old hymn, O Come Thou Fount, “prone to wander, Lord I feel it, prone to leave the God I love, here’s my heart Lord, take and seal it, seal it for thy courts above.” As I dig my palms and heels towards the floor, rooting into my mat like tent pegs. I am setting camp here, grounded, and secure. My tailbone lifts up high, making my body an inverted v, or tent shape. I am reminded that I am nomadic, mind, body, and soul, and that in all my wanderings, I am found by the grace of God.
“Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God?”-1 Corinthians 6:19
In this passage, The Greek word for body is sozo, meaning to keep safe and sound, to rescue from danger or destruction. Anyone who has undergone trauma knows the feeling of betrayal the body experiences, the lack of safety, and lack of rescue. I don’t have answers to soften this seemly contradiction, but I do know that when I intentionally set up my body as a tent for this posture, I am reminded that my body is, in this moment, sacred, secure, and safe. I practice Downward Facing Dog to remember what is true about the goodness of my legs, my hands, and my form. My body is a temple says the scripture. This Greek word for temple is naos, sanctuary, or a holy place. This temple they’re speaking of is the place where God resided, where the Lord pitched his tent, and his Spirit so that all could enter in.
When I pitch my posture in Downward Facing Dog, I remember that my body is a holy, and sacred space where God lives, that I am a home for the living God. [TWEET THIS] I am not some washed up, usury thing, I am set apart for something glorious and good. When you have a moment today, take this posture on, and breathe. Feel the rootedness through your hands and feet, the lengthening of your spine, and the lift of your tailbone to the sky. Picture these words, ‘My body is a temple of the Holy Spirit.’ Breathe this in, and breathe it out. Hold this posture 5 to 8 slow, committed breaths. When you’re ready come down to child’s pose or a seat with your eyes closed. Take a minute or two and ruminate on what that experience was like for you.
Is there an emotional or spiritual attachment to yoga postures for you?
Is it difficult to imagine your body as a temple of the Holy Spirit?
This week practice this posture with this ‘temple’ in mind. Meditate on your experience.