What Breaking The Sabbath Taught Me About Keeping It

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Sabbath day observance is an important part of Mormonism. It’s a principle I have tried to keep for as long as I can remember.

For the last 27 years, I have attended church for three hours every Sunday. I have refrained from exercise, shopping, sporting events, and general entertainment in an effort to dedicate that day to God. Yes I have missed weeks here and there because of work or travel, but as much as possible, I’ve made ‘keeping the Sabbath day holy’ my steady ritual.

But then recently I decided to pursue a longtime goal and get certified to teach yoga. (I know, I know, LA has really gotten to me.) The catch? The two-month long training would be held on Sundays during my church service.

I was conflicted about the decision for a few weeks. I’ve been told countless stories in Sunday School about heroic Mormon athletes who refused to play sports on Sundays, and I respect them for that choice. But I saw this as a work opportunity, a potential chance to change my career. Even more, when I looked around at other certification programs, I realized that the Sunday training format is pretty standard in Los Angeles. So I decided that it wouldn’t be that big of a deal. It was yoga, after all. It’s basically church for the body!

At our yoga training, we learned about the amazing creation that is the human body. We learned how to build strength in both the body and mind, and how cultivating that strength on your yoga mat translates into your every day life. It helps you stay in the difficult moments and have the mental and physical strength to get through them. I learned that while yoga is a great way to increase strength, flexibility, and endurance, its most important function is that it helps you find stillness.

As the weeks passed and I replaced lessons on Faith, Hope and Charity with lessons on Samasthiti and Paschimotanasana, I didn’t feel like my testimony was shattered or that I wasn’t a good person. My world did not come tumbling down like I had sometimes been taught it would in Sunday School. But I did feel myself getting a bit restless. And I realized that what I was missing was ironically what I was trying to find in my yoga practice: stillness.

The final pose in every yoga class is called Savasana. It’s that glorious moment where after a long, hot and sweaty hour, you get to lay on your mat and be still.  You get to quiet your mind and simply exist, remembering what it feels like to be alive and present. It’s a two-minute escape from the everyday stress and clutter that fill our lives, and those two minutes can be life-changing.

That feeling is similar to what I get when I dedicate my Sundays to God.

Sunday is my weekly Savasana. A time where I shut out the typical clutter, stress, and even the typical good things that fill the rest of my week. It is a day where I find stillness and recharge as I regain perspective.

I’ll be honest, Sundays as a Mormon are not as relaxing as laying on the floor while ethereal music plays. Often they are filled with hours of meetings and preparing lessons and visiting strangers who need help or company. But they are a shift of the mind’s eye–for one day of the week, you turn your thoughts to a different kind of chaos. And oddly, in that chaos, you somehow can find stillness. You find a deep connection with your spirit, and with a being that is bigger than yourself.

So much of what I learned in yoga training reinforces what I believe about keeping the Sabbath day holy. We learned about meditation and reflection. We talked about the importance of checking in with yourself, of taking a personal inventory. We reinforced the necessity of finding love and appreciation for the human experience.

Cheesy as it may sound, I believe that the lessons I learned in my yoga training will only add to my spirituality. But I have come to have a newfound appreciation for the principle of keeping the Sabbath day holy. I now understand more fully the reason Mormonism encourages a consistent weekly day of rest. It is to find a day of stillness. A shift in perspective. A spiritual rebirth. It is to help each one of us find our Savasana, for little longer than two minutes.


Add yours
  1. 1
    Sue Groesbeck

    Haha “Church for the Body” that is classic. Funny how we miss things when they are taken from our lives.
    I agree!!! God knows more than we do!

  2. 2
    Susan Carroll

    What a fascinating contrast between Sabbath keeping and practicing yoga. Keeping the Sabbath is a peace, a joy to me. I know many find that peace in yoga, is it interesting that Sabbath peace can last the whole day.

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