Reverse tabletop pose - Maryknoll Lay Missioners
Home » Cambodia » Reverse tabletop pose

Lent 2024 newsletter


Hang Tran, Cambodia

Seyha doing reverse tabletop pose

Seyha and a staff member doing the “reverse tabletop” yoga pose

“Are you sitting comfortably on the floor? All right. Keep your arms and legs vertical, like the legs of the table. There! Lift the tummy up toward the ceiling. Hold it. Great, you are making a beautiful table!”

Seyha is living with a wheelchair, not able to stand or walk, but has strong arms. Recently he became interested in yoga. It was awesome to see him figuring out which movements he can do. The reverse tabletop is Seyha’s favorite yoga pose. He and a staff member were having fun exploring this new game together.

Chomraun stretching

Chomraun doing stretching exercises

Chomraun is another kid living with a wheelchair. His spine is in a “c” shape and his head is usually sinking into his chest. At one point his hands clenched into fists so tightly that the fingernails broke the skin of the palms. However, with a little encouragement and cheers, he has been able to straighten his torso and stretch his arms and legs.

Like most of us, Seyha and Chomraun are not always enthusiastic about doing physical exercises. Exercises require works!

They made me think of another kind of exercise that Naaman went through to be cured of leprosy by the prophet Elisha (2 Kings 5:1-15):

As the story goes, a captive little girl from Israel said to Naaman’s wife, “If only my master would present himself to the prophet in Samaria, he would cure him of his leprosy.” For real? Did Naaman question the girl further or discuss it with his wife to overcome some doubts? But perhaps being a leper and an army commander of the king of Aram were more than enough motivation to embark on a quest for healing.

Elisha’s sending a message, rather than receiving Naaman in person, was a useful diagnostic test. Sure enough, Naaman’s reaction of anger projected the imaging of his condition for analysis. But his servants put things in perspective: The task Elisha was asking of Naaman was easily doable, so why not try it? It was up to Naaman to decide how to proceed.

Naaman eventually let go of his view of the superiority of the rivers in his country over those in Israel and other misguided notions. He did what Elisha had instructed him to do: “Go and wash seven times in the Jordan, and your flesh will be healed and you will be clean.”

Sound counsel and a willingness to be cleansed were essential. Naaman just finished running a marathon of faith — overflowing with a new knowing of God, of self and gratitude.

The differently abled youth and I are familiar with the efforts involved in any works — inertia, energy, motivation, steamy weather, soreness. Yet, every morning they have an amazing ability to practice something familiar or new.

These kids inspire me to keep an open mind. Wholeness may be elusive or indefinable, but they knew what they did yesterday, so practicing the same or making small improvements is highly feasible. Even one effort will bring us one more step, physically or spiritually, healthier each day.

Having a buddy or two is good for mutual support and stimulating competition. Let’s all try to keep up with Seyha and Chomraun, shall we?

Happy Lent,

Please consider supporting my mission work at the Home of Hope with a donation through the link below.

I invite you to walk with me as a “COMPANION IN MISSION.” Companions in Mission are friends and generous donors who give financial gifts on a regular (usually monthly) basis. For more information, visit Become a Companion in MissionThank you so much for your generosity! 


Hang Tran
A Maryknoll lay missioner since 2013, Hang Tran works with young people living with disabilities at the Home of Hope in Chom Chao, Cambodia.