Scripture: Exodus 16: 2-15
The story in this scripture begins with complaining. The Israelites have left the land of Egypt only to find themselves in a dry and barren wilderness. Hunger, insecurity, and anxiety swell up from their guts and out their mouths in vocal spewing. “If only we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the fleshpots and ate our fill of bread; for you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger, ” the Israelites spit out at Moses.
God hears their complaints, and acts. God responds to human lack and need. God acknowledges the insecurity and anxiety of the congregation and the connection to their material, embodied needs. God says to the people, “I am going to rain bread from heaven for you and each day the people will gather enough for that day. On the sixth day it will be twice as much as they gather on other days.”
This gift of bread did indeed rain down. The people looked at the white, flaky stuff of the wilderness ground and they said, “What is this stuff?” The Hebrew translation for that question is man hu or manna. Manna meant they no longer would starve. Manna meant that in their time of complete anxiety, God provided what they most needed. Manna meant that they now lived in an economy of sufficiency, rather than one of lack. Manna also meant that they need not acquire or overwork; “what is it” would be there day after day, and enough on the sixth day that they could rest on the seventh. The Jews began their significant practice of Sabbath based upon having enough; they could rest knowing that God would provide.
As Stephanie Paulsell says in her book Honoring the Body: Reflections on a Christian Practice God’s gift of manna reveals a God who loves to feed God’s creation and loves those made in God’s image. This is a story of God’s provision, of having enough when we rely on God and the rhythms of God’s creation.
If you are walking in a wilderness today, I wonder if there might be some manna in your dry and barren place. It’s only natural to ask “what is it?” Trust that some manna will be there for you. Offer up whatever anxiety or fear swirls in your gut. Open to receiving what you most need. Trust that you will have enough for today–that you don’t need to hoard or accumulate. You can rest. You can practice Sabbath. God will provide what you most need. Manna from heaven, in whatever form it takes.
In the class we will physically move from one place to another in the body. From a place of insecurity, we will move to a place of fullness and enough. We will literally twist away from anxiety and fear that binds us, and open up to fullness and abundance. So this class is going to have twists of all sorts! We will take lots of mini-pauses of Sabbath, and then end with some restorative poses.
Our peak pose will be Parvritta Trikonasa, described below with instructions from Yoga Journal.
Stand in Tadasana. With an exhalation, step or lightly jump your feet 3½ to 4 feet apart. Raise your arms parallel to the floor and reach them actively out to the sides, shoulder blades wide, palms down. Turn your left foot in 45 to 60 degrees to the right and your right foot out to the right 90 degrees. Align the right heel with the left heel. Firm your thighs and turn your right thigh outward, so that the center of the right kneecap is in line with the center of the right ankle.
With an exhalation, turn your torso to the right, and square your hip points as much as possible with the front edge of your sticky mat. As you bring the left hip around to the right, resist the head of the left thigh bone back and firmly ground the left heel.
With another exhalation, turn your torso further to the right and lean forward over the front leg. Reach your left hand down, either to the floor (inside or outside the foot) or, if the floor is too far away, onto a block positioned against your inner right foot. Allow the left hip to drop slightly toward the floor. You may feel the right hip slip out to the side and lift up toward the shoulder, and the torso hunch over the front leg. To counteract this, press the outer right thigh actively to the left and release the right hip away from the right shoulder. Use your right hand, if necessary, to create these two movements, hooking the thumb into the right hip crease.