Note: I originally wrote this article for Holy Yoga’s monthly The Encounter. 

Observe the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Work six days and do everything you need to do. But the seventh day is a Sabbath to God, your God. Don’t do any work—not you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your servant, nor your maid, nor your animals, not even the foreign guest visiting in your town. For in six days God made Heaven, Earth, and sea, and everything in them; he rested on the seventh day. — Exodus 20:8-10 (MSG)

What exactly IS Sabbath?

According to scripture, it is a day of rest from one’s labors and a holy day to honor God.

Therefore God blessed the Sabbath day; he set it apart as a holy day. – Exodus 20:11 (MSG)

In the biblical account of creation, we read that God rested from His work on the seventh day. He birthed everything into being—land, water, sun, universes, animals, sea creatures, humans—and then He rested.

And He created us as human BEINGS, not human DOINGS!

While Sunday is traditionally considered the Sabbath day by most Christians, think about your average Sunday. How do you spend it? Do you catch up on work? Do yard work? Work for pay? Do you make time for intentional rest and nurturing yourself with God’s love and grace?

Here’s the truth: Our Sabbath can be any day of the week!

Many people can’t often observe Sundays as their weekly Sabbath. Consider medical personnel, first responders, military service members, church staff, and restaurant workers who prepare and serve the Sunday lunches you may enjoy. Their Sabbaths must be scheduled on other days. The staff at my church took the entire week off after Easter this year for rest and renewal after the busy days of the Lenten season and Holy Week.

Listen: We are a New Covenant people! We live under the grace of Jesus, and our Sabbath may not be on Sunday. Sunday is Sunday, a day of the week, and the traditional day of worship. But we can and should observe Sabbath—true Sabbath– on a regular basis.

Then Jesus said, “The Sabbath was made to serve us; we weren’t made to serve the Sabbath. The Son of Man is no yes-man to the Sabbath. He’s in charge!”
—Mark 2:28 (MSG)

Pastors often take sabbaticals for rest and time with God. They need this to unplug, recharge, and spend time with God away from their pastoral duties. A pastor I follow on social media takes her personal Sabbath on Mondays. She often shares photos of her breakfasts, which can vary from fresh fruit and a latte to an omelet and a mimosa. She listens to part of her vast collection of LPs ranging from Nina Simone to classic rock, sometimes curls up with a magazine or two, then spends time in prayer and preparation for the coming week and her Sunday sermon. I find her practice truly lovely and intentional.

True Sabbath focuses on both rest and worship. Aren’t we blessed as Holy Yoga Instructors to have such a wonderful resource as yoga that we can bring into our own Sabbaths?!

As you start to think about taking a true day of rest, consider incorporating elements of worship, rest, yoga, meditation, fresh air and nature, and wholesome nutrition into your day. You may even want to fast or eat very lightly. The focus is on rest and worship!

You can start a practice of observing true Sabbath by being realistic about the number of days you can devote to the observance. Perhaps start with two days a month, two weeks apart, then work your way up to one day a week. Below are a few questions to help you as you set your Sabbath dates and prepare. Each observance can be similar or quite different, so enjoy the creativity in planning your special day of rest and worship!

Remember that Jesus is Lord of the Sabbath. Our Sabbaths should honor Him.

And with preparation, planning, and an open heart and mind, we can fulfill God’s command to honor the Sabbath and to keep it holy.