Better Than the Perfect Downward Dog


Once upon a time in a yoga class full of full length mirrors, I arrived at what I believed to be my most perfect downward dog.

Finally! After 15 years of practice! I achieved something! Hooray ME!

I had been chasing that dang dog for years and when I peaked into the mirror that day and saw myself looking like a page from Yoga Journal, I rejoiced. In myself.

The first thought that came to me after the self-congratulations, was one of relief,

Now I can rest.

I even breathed deep. Finally letting go.

Now I can rest. 

Now, real yoga can begin.

And then I laughed out loud.

Real yoga? What is that!?

Morgan Day Cecil Yoga

The lie I had been operating in unawares was caught. The lie that says, you have to be perfect before you can rest.

I love how God rushed in and gave me a belly laugh. He’s taught me how to laugh out loud when I hear a lie within. Sometimes this makes for uncomfortable circumstance, especially in a yoga class, but the laugh reminds my whole being that the Enemy has been defeated.

And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross. Colossians 2:15

Grace is really enough. Perfection is not the goal. You want a mantra? Try that one.

Yes, it felt so good to be so aligned in Adho Mukha Śvānāsana. My flesh and bone found bliss in this most classic of inversions. My hips were lifting high, sits bones kissing the ceiling, hinging into a spectacular triangle, heart and heels melting to the earth, fingers and feet dynamic circuits of energy. Yes, the dog felt great.

But the lie was obvious and the lie stole whatever was good in the flesh about the posture.

Only the perfect earn their rest. 

The lie also sounds like this:

You can rest and just enjoy your kids after the house is clean.

You can rest in the company of your beloved after you loose 10 lbs.

You can rest and just be yourself after you have proved your worth in your business. 

I think I have often resisted rest when I have needed it most because I thought I had to earn it first. I believed a lie. Here is the truth:

In Christ the imperfect can rest!

I’ve practiced yoga for most of my adult life, but the practice of holy yoga is new to me. And I’ve fallen in love with it because I desperately need the grace it offers. In holy yoga the goal isn’t perfection. The one and only goal is Christ. We come to our mat not to model pages from a magazine, or to compete to be the most zen-like. We come for the simple, and wonderfully desperate desire, to have an encounter with the Living God.  Here, in my holy yoga practice, my heart has found cessation from striving, even when my mind wants to chase after so many dogs.

That day on my mat when I thought I had achieved something great, the Spirit rescued me from myself with this conviction:

You think you have to be perfect in order to rest!? Grace is freely given whether or not your heels ever reach the floor.

The child in me listened to the Counselor in me and I knew, unless I wanted to forever be measuring my worth on my last greatest canine maneuver, I had to confess and repent.

So I did. I left what made me perfecto for a moment and came to humble child’s pose. With head bowed and forehead resting on the earth, I whispered these words.

Forgive me, Lord, for trading the cross for a yoga pose. The alignment of your cross with my heart is the only alignment that really matters. You are the one I deeply desire. Please do in me what I cannot do for myself. Thank you for offering me rest before I deserve or earn it. 

I don’t always see the lies I am believing so clearly as I did that moment. But when I do, when the search light within me actually catches the thief, I know I cannot let the thief get away. He who is in me in mighty to bring justice. And so I let Him.

I take the proud or relentlessly demanding voices to the Word. I make the dark monologues listen.

Cease striving and know that I am God. Psalm 46:10, NASB

Whatever is our thing, friends, whether it’s yoga, or baking cakes, or running a business, or cleaning house, or doing our make-up, or teaching others how to do theirs on YOUTUBE, the stars may align just right for us one day and maybe something about what we are doing bumps up against “perfect”.  It can happen. But beware. That moment is a moment that passes quickly. It’s here and gone faster than you can pat yourself on your back and then there it goes, hurling itself into eternity, leaving us alone again and imperfect.

Rest and grace are different. They aren’t something we may or may not encounter. Rest and grace are givens, always available to us in Christ, if we but humble ourselves to receive.

Romance and adventure fall flat and seem like an impossibility in a soul that is always exhausted. I am learning true romance and meaningful adventure arise out of a well-rested, imperfect heart, not in an accomplished but tired one.

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly. Matthew 11:28-30, MSG

This is the last week of the #peaceonpurpose challenge we are hosting on instagram. And it’s not too late to join in. Come be a part of a community where grace reigns and there is room to play, to find freedom and wellness in your body and peace in your mind, You are welcome here.

If you are interested in learning more about Holy Yoga, visit these women and read what they share on their blogs.

Mandy, She Breathes Deeply

Stephanie, The Little Way Community

Brooke Boone (Founder of Holy Yoga), Simple Significance

Amber, Marvelously Ruined

Sarah, Seven Stories Shared

If you live in or around  Portland, OR and you want to take a holy yoga class from me, sign up for the newsletter here to be in the know for when/where the next class will be held.

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6 Comments on “Better Than the Perfect Downward Dog

  1. resting in this today…You think you have to be perfect in order to rest!? Grace is freely given whether or not your heels ever reach the floor. Thank you

  2. Such an encouraging truth! Our Lord knows our weakness and our lack of “perfection”. So why do we demand it of ourselves? I do not need perfect quiet and calm surroundings to practice that elusive puppy (downward dog seems to get more challenging instead of less)! I can have my two year old scampering under me as I sun salute. My God has provided the perfection, not me! I am called to faith and trust, not perfection!

  3. Pingback: The Most Romantic Thing We’ve Ever Done (Her Story) | Romance & Adventure with Morgan Day Cecil

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