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Holiday Rhythms to Manage Stress and Anxiety

Lying in the dark on my sweat-soaked mat, I tried to quiet my mind during the closing moments of yoga class. 

A regular practice of most yoga classes, I didn’t enjoy it initially. Being a mover, becoming still seemed a waste of time. 

But I decided to make these minutes meaningful, so attempting to push out all other thoughts (something hard for me), I focused on Jesus.

At first, I talked at Him, but as I surrendered and listened, it slowly transformed into communication—honest conversation. 

Truthfully, it was a bit unnerving at first. I had to let go of false beliefs about our relationship:

  • My job was to pray for others.
  • Asking for myself or focusing on our relationship was selfish.
  • Jesus wouldn’t actually speak with me, only to me.

But gently, He confronted these lies with truth. 

Behold, you are beautiful, my beloved, truly delightful. Songs 1:16

As I grew more comfortable, a boldness developed deep inside, and they became weekly visits to Jesus’ Throneroom where I worshiped from a respectful distance.

One particular visit, He came and sat next to me. Over time, my head found His lap as I gazed into His fiercely loving eyes.

I am the Good Shepherd. John 10:11

Like out-of-body experiences, I watched these scenes unfold from the safety of my sweaty mat.

But during a recent struggle with anxiety, things changed, and what transpired took my breath away.

Jesus invited Himself into the yoga studio. 

I heard Him whisper, “Why do you stay at a safe distance?”

Then kneeling, He assumed plank pose—over me. 

I can imagine what you’re thinking. “Is this OK?” These were my exact thoughts. 

It felt too intimate; He came too close. Shame and sin suddenly overwhelmed me.

But there, in His bright, beautiful presence over me, something amazing transpired.

He whispered, “Breathe.” 

As I inhaled, light poured out from his lungs. Stars mingled with the light, flooding my soul as if I was drinking it in. 

This is My goodness and truth; what do you need from Me?”

My neediness became veil-thin:

  • Joy
  • Peace
  • Hope
  • Faith 
  • Perseverance 
  • Forgiveness
  • Self-control 

He poured each gift into my being as He exhaled.

…He breathed on them… John 20:22

The next time I exhaled, my breath became eerily dark, full of the sin overwhelming me. 

  • Bitterness
  • Unforgiveness
  • Shame
  • Unworthiness
  • Pride
  • Selfishness 

But Jesus inhaled every speck of that darkness, becoming even more brilliant as He did!

Tears mingled with the sweat dripping down my face. After a few more breaths, He disappeared, but His Spirit was alive in me, maybe more than ever.

That week as I journaled and prayed about what transpired, clarity emerged on the horizon of doubt, answering the question I’m sure you’re asking too:

Why that pose, and why over me?” 

Plank is a power pose in yoga, a position of strength and stability.

For the eyes of the LORD roam throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him. 2 Chronicles 16:9

Additionally, I learned plank means “breath retention in Sanskrit. 

Jesus wants my sin, yet I too often retain it in shame. How can I possibly live in His light if I harbor darkness? 

He’s strong enough not only to see my sin but absorb or retain it, exchanging it for His forgiveness and strength

A visual image of His power, generous spirit, and desire for intimacy materialized. 

Finally gathering the nerve to discuss this with my counselor, she encouraged me to share these experiences.

Later came additional affirmation with a visit to my godsister who acquired a secondhand Virtual Reality headset, raving about a meditation app she wanted me to try.

I sat in disbelief watching what unfolded visually before me.

Inhaling as instructed, STARS MINGLED WITH LIGHT cascaded towards me, and with each exhale, I expelled an orange light.

Confirmation washed over me as tears of gratitude silently moistened the headset.

So why share this crazy encounter?

Because with the holiday season comes higher stress levels, and discovering 3 rhythms to manage it better, this is the first of them:

Get alone with Jesus.

When we get quiet, we can hear Jesus; He longs for intimacy with us. 

Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know. Jeremiah 33:3


I believe I have these encounters not because I’m someone special, but because the desperation of fallout led me to ask. Not often enough, but I keep trying.

You can too! This holiday season, carve out time to get alone with Jesus, asking Him these questions:

  1. What do you want me to know?

  2. What do you want me to do?

about a specific circumstance or your next steps generally. He will answer; just get still enough to listen. 

We can’t sail through the holidays in our own strength. Expectations will prove unbearable without Him. 

O the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! Romans 11:33

Meet me back here next time for the last 2 rhythms to manage holiday stress and anxiety!

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