The 10 days from Rosh Hashanah (the Jewish New Year) though Yom Kippur (the day of attonement) are called the 10 Days of Teshuva or the Yamim Nora'im, meaning the 10 days of return or the 10 days of holiness/awesomeness. That name, Yamim Nora'im is where the phrase High Holy Days comes from, or more colloquially, High Holidays. Additionally, the Shabbat (Sabbath) in between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur is called as the the Sabbath of Return, or Shabbat Shuva in Hebrew.
What does Sabbath of Return mean? This can raise a lot of questions. Who is returning? Why? What for? Is it just about humans or what about G*d? The way that I think about is this: It's all of the questions and all of the possible answers. It's the earth turning, it's the seasons changing, it's people returning to synagogue each year, it's G*d turning G*d's attention back to us when we turn our attention to G*d, it's us turning towards ourselves to take an honest look at our lives, it's each of us coming back to our families or loved ones, or coming home to our truest selves.
I'll add one more meaning. This afternoon, before getting ready for Shabbat, I dusted off my yoga mat and rolled it out. I got back on my mat, and immediately my body sank down into a child's pose and just started breathing. It's like I hadn't been breathing until I stepped back onto the mat. My breath deepened, my body, moved, I began to sweat, I picked up the pace and then slowed down again. As I began to move through my asana (movement) practice, my breath synced up with the movements. Inhaling as my limbs expanded, exhaling as my body contracted.
A thought arose during my practice. Wow. It feels so good to come back to my practice. Truth be told, it had been a while, so I didn't know what to expect. Spiritual and physical practices ebb and flow, but it had really been while. But I was almost surprised how good it felt just coming back to my practice.
And then, another thought arose: Shabbat Shuva.
Shabbat of Return.
Returning to my yoga practice, turning to my self-care, returning to my body and breath. It felt so good to be doing this just for myself. Something purely for my own physical and spiritual health.
After my practice, I laid on my mat a little longer instead of getting up right away after savasana (final resting pose). I put on one of my favorite Kirtan (Sanskrit chanting) songs, Baba Hanuman, by Krishna Das, and I just allowed my body to move and breath. My hands moved like a conductor, then swam through the air. I lifted my legs as though I was dancing while still laying on my back. I just enjoyed my body moving in any way it wanted to. I didn't think too much except to notice how free, peaceful, and joyous I felt.
Coming back to my practice.
Coming back to myself.
Coming back to my soul.
And maybe that's what Shabbat Shuva is all about.
However you get there, it's about returning however you need to.
It's about returning to your soul however you get there.