We were rolling out our mats when the lady next to me said, “I hate the long holds.”

I laughed knowing that’s what we were in for.

“I don’t mind anymore,” I said trying to be upbeat.  “I had an MRI yesterday and when the tech pulled me out of the tube she asked if I did yoga.  When I said yes, she said she thought that was why I was able to be still for so long.  Yep, I’m good at corpse pose I told her.”

With that I had the whole class laughing. “Here’s to easier x-rays,” they chimed.

I didn’t think our teacher had been listening but then she shot me a look that said I heard that.  I immediately regretted my comment.  She hates Western medicine.  Not a class goes by that she doesn’t make a negative remark about it.  This isn’t uncommon in yoga a lot of yogis feel this way, but she’s the only one I know who can’t keep it to herself.

Class started and after fifty minutes of long holds I thought I’d escaped any critical remarks but I was wrong.  Seeing that I was struggling to get situated in our last pose she came and wedged her knee into my spine, pulled my shoulders back, and offered her editorial while pressing me into a fold.

“Sweetie you don’t need an MRI of your neck,” she said.  “You just need to let go of all the stress you’re carrying around.  You don’t have to hold the world up.  It’s not your job.  Let it go.”

A snippy comeback was about to roll off my tongue but the gal in front of me started cracking up and distracted me.  It was a good thing because my comment wouldn’t have been kind.

Outside class the ladies and I joke about how outspoken our teacher is on the subject.  We know she means well and we respect her talents but the rest of us are perfectly comfortable taking advantage of the benefits medicine has to offer.   We’re thankful for it.

When class was over I thought I’d left unfazed but then driving to the store a voice in my head whispered, “She might be right?  It’s probably stress.  You’ve probably worried a disk right out of place.”

I tried to shake it off but the seed of doubt she’d planted helped the voice grow louder as I cruised the aisles.  By check-out it was screaming when my friend Cindy the clerk came to help me.

“What did the doctor say about your neck,” she asked fishing for something in her pocket.

“I don’t know yet,” I said feeling completely pathetic.  “It’s probably stress.”

“I don’t think so,” she said shaking her head.  I think you hurt it at yoga.  All that stretching stuff you do is crazy.”

I smiled and shrugged my shoulders not knowing what to say.

Here she said pulling her hand from her pocket.  “I found these yesterday—I think they’re for you.”IMG_1541

It was three pennies.  My mood changed in a heartbeat silencing the voice in my head.

“Thank you—I needed that!”

“I know,” she said with a wink.

I left the store head held high reminded that one of the best ways to actually relieve stress in your life is to silence all the voices competing for your attention. They’re all biased by something and often serve an agenda that is not in your best interest.

I don’t know why my instructor thinks she knows what’s at the root of my problem.  Perhaps something I’ve said has led her to believe I’m not adept at handling stress or perhaps she’s just putting her own baggage on my back.  Either way it doesn’t matter.

What matters is the voice I choose to listen to—a critic that offers shame and judgment (however sweetly spoken) or one that offers encouragement and an open mind?  I think the latter of the two, because unless a thought comes in peace, it’s probably one you should reject—especially if it stabs you in the back.


“The right word at the right time is like a custom-made piece of jewelry.”

Or in other words…it fits.

Proverbs 25:11 (The Message)








  1. Dearest Karen,
    It’s difficult to be to the right of many qualities but this piece is to the right of wonderful, well written,fun,touching,meaningful, helpful and terrific writing which is different than well written. You pulled me, the reader, in, had me hooked and delivered.

    Please give this woman, my daughter, a basket of kudos on me. Yes. I’ll sign for them.


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