Why Psalms & Stretches?
Exercise and meditation are incredible tools that have been widely recognised for their physical and mental health benefits. We believe these are God-designed tools to help us thrive in life and grow in our relationship with Him. This is why prayer is also an integral part of Psalms & Stretches because communication is fundamental to building relationships and prayer is how we communicate with God.
"I prayed to the Lord, and He answered me. He freed me from all my fears." Psalm 34 vs 4
Prayer is something practiced in almost all cultures everywhere since the beginning of time. The bible teaches us to pray and meditate, and as Christians we have a perfect example of that in Jesus, who regularly spent time by himself praying to God, his father, and studying scripture. Yet, amidst our busy lives, it can be a challenge to set time aside to find the focus and connection we yearn for amongst the distractions modern life can bring. In a similar way, despite the fact that we were given bodies that were designed to move and were made in the image of God, many of us nowadays lead much more sedentary lives than our ancestors, and have difficult relationships with our body image. This discord we live in is reflected in our communication also; modern technology makes communication more accessible than ever, yet it is not uncommon to feel disconnected. What we need most is deep connection, with God, with ourselves and with others. Psalms & Stretches is a class where we actively pursue this connection using prayer, meditation on the Word of God and exercise, and we do this in real time, together.
""Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from Him." Psalm 62 vs 5
Our vision is for our classes to be accessible to all, for people from all different walks of life, meeting together in different locations, but who are united in their intention. It is both an individual experience and an opportunity to worship as an ensemble moving in unison; doing the same moving meditation, praying through the same Psalm and worshiping God with one body.
To find a class near you check our Class locator.
Interested in setting up your own Psalms & Stretches class? Check out our Instructor training.
What does a class look like?
Psalms & Stretches starts with prayer and reading through the chosen bible verse for the session. We use passages from the book of Psalms (which could be described as a book of poetry from the bible) and focus on one passage of verses for a series of classes so that we can learn the words by heart. Repetition is a key part of meditation and each time we return to a passage we ask God to speak to us through it, afresh in that moment. In a similar way, when we revisit movement we check-in with our bodies in real time, in the here and now. Our minds can often dwell on the past or project into the future, but our body, our physical sensations and our breath can be a powerful tool in experiencing and engaging with the present. The main idea of mindfulness is to become aware of ourselves, our thoughts and our feeling in the present moment; in a Psalms & Stretches class we invite God into this, acknowledging Him as the higher power in our lives and looking to Him as our source of wellbeing.
Psalms & Stretches is done in bare feet or wearing socks with grip and using an exercise mat. During class we perform a variety of seated, lying and standing exercises. When our bodies are fully prepared, we return to our chosen passage from a Psalm and set it to specific physical actions - matching the movements to the words to create a moving meditation. This moving meditation, which we call a Psalm Sequence, is not only exercise but a way to pray through the Psalm, to meditate on the passage, and to connect with it in visceral way. By committing the verse not only to our minds but to our muscle memory also, we aim to fully embody the words. Through this creative approach, we facilitate an environment where we can slow down, be still and encounter God.
In each class the exercise content will change slightly and options are given for those who need variations. To end the session we have some time for intentional relaxation, prayer and reflection. We encourage our class members to bring a notebook to journal their experience if this is something they find useful, and to use the Psalm Sequence in their own devotional time or exercise regime, for both the physical and spiritual benefits.