How A Yoga Class Made Me Fall in Love with Prayer

I remember the exact moment I fell in love with praying.

It was February and I was numb. My heart had experienced loss, and as a result my life had consisted of profound emptiness.

That cold Saskatchewan morning, I met with a friend for breakfast before heading to a yoga class nearby. I was exhausted. My mind was disconnected from my body and my words did not align with my feelings or my thoughts.

I spent the night before sleepless and replaying old conversations and asking myself how this became who I was. My prayer mat was a stranger to me, my tongue unable to recite Quranic verses that at one point had been fluid.

I was sitting at the edge of depression and did not have the strength to ask for help. Not from friends or family, not from The Creator and I was unable to help myself.

At breakfast, I laughed and told stories and maintained my constructed image of a woman unstoppable. I knew my goals inside out, I vocalized them, I scheduled time for friends and family in a day planner I carried everywhere with me. I attributed my worth to how busy my schedule was and what great things I was about to accomplish.

A turning point

I didn’t think that that morning yoga class would be any different than the hundreds of other classes I had done in my 6 years of practice. But it was. It changed everything.

The teacher began the class by introducing the new sequence that month. The focus was front body and she began by reading some poems by Rumi and stressing on the importance of opening your heart. I was half listening.

But something about that practice, in between the dozens of vinyasa’s and warriors brought me to a state of raw vulnerability. In the middle of class, surrounded by 20 strangers I began to cry.

I wish I was a pretty crier. Between the synchronized yoga breaths of a disciplined class were my sobs. Of course I had picked a spot at the front of the room that day. But in those moments I was past caring.

I left that class with raw eyes and a heart that was awakening.

And then the feelings came. And then quran came, followed by the overwhelming need to bow my head to my creator and seek refuge in his mercy. I don’t know what about that class that brought me so undone, but it pushed me to the Quran and salaah (prayer) and remembrance of the one who created us.

Your body is an amanah. Never neglect the importance of maintaining your physical health because it is tied to your emotional health. And never forget that the God that created you also told you what your body needs.

My mother always says, there is time for worship and time for rest. And we forget that. We treat our bodies like machines and wonder why our hearts feel cold. We wonder why salaah becomes such a burden. It’s because we act like fools; thinking that Allah (SWT) needs us more than we need him. God doesn’t ask you to pray for him, he asks you to pray for yourself.

We fill our hearts with temporary solutions expecting them to make us happy, not realizing that what will make us happy and bring us peace was written for us 1400 years ago in the action of salaah.

As human beings, it almost seems we’ve lost the skill of listening to ourselves because we are so bombarded with outside voices. What is so beautiful about Islam, it stresses the importance of meditation and reflection, through remembrance of the creator.

Prayer is meditation. Dkhir is mediation and for my own journey it’s yoga that has brought me to that point of being able to connect with my creator.

First published: May 2016

About Eman Bare
Eman is a Saskatchewan based journalist who currently works for CBC, Teen Vogue and MuslimGirl. She is a graduate of the University of Regina School of Journalism, where upon graduation she was awarded the CTV Investigative Journalism scholarship. Eman was among 23 women to be selected across Canada to speak at the Bold Vision Conference in Prince Edward Island. When she is not writing, she's designing clothing for her eco-friendly clothing line, teaching a yoga class or making awkward hijab jokes.