Tuesday, May 28, 2013

The Christian Yogi: An Observation

Y'all know I love hot yoga. Like really, really love.  Remember the first time I did it?  That post was all fun and games but a true love of the practice was born that day...and I've been steady practicing ever since.

Today my husband sent me an article via Facebook regarding Yoga's compatibility with Christianity.  (If you aren't friends with me on Facebook, find me here!!!)

My response was pretty long because this is something near and dear to my heart.  I love yoga.  (Wait...I think I already said that...)  I can't imagine it not being in my life.  So this was my Facebook response. 

I welcome your comments.  Do you agree?

"This is very interesting. Even though I didn't understand anything in the article nor did I understand the anything in the article that it pointed to....I read both of them. And then I Googled "Christianity and Yoga" to hopefully find something that I could more easily understand. I found an article by Mark Driscoll that was so full of Christian Fundamentalist rhetoric that it made my skin crawl. I'm not saying that the fundamentals of Christianity are bad. The fundamentals of Christianity are the building blocks of our faith...but when it borders radicalism, we start looking like Westboro...and you know ain't nobody got time for that. However, bringing it back to real life and from the perspective of a very grounded Christian who happens to practice yoga, I think the concept that yoga = atheism is a pile of bull dung. 

(Pictures not included in original post...because, duh, that's not how FB works.)

Let me preface this by saying: I don't speak to the origination of Yoga, the Hindu faith or what each pose may or may not mean to someone else. This is my take on the topic and by no means a historical or theological answer. It's my opinion based on my personal experience.

The first few times I went to Hot Yoga, I felt an inner struggle. Was I doing something that went against my faith? Was I opening myself up to something that I didn't really want? Those were real questions for me and I found my answer after praying and after talking to other Christians who practice.

I had a conversation with one of my instructors about this topic a few months back. The conversation was triggered when she played a version of Amazing Grace as part of the playlist for the class. It made me think she was a Christian and I was right. I told her that when I come to my mat, I find an overwhelming amount of peace; peace that translates into my every day life. I've never experienced anything like it. I got to thinking about The Light that lives inside of my heart (i.e. The Holy Spirit) and anytime I welcome or ask for more of It, I think God responds. Whether I meditate on The Holy Spirit while sitting on a church pew or on my yoga mat is irrelevant. Whether the person beside me in Yoga is meditating on the same Holy Spirit is also irrelevant. The Holy Spirit...whether in a Hot Yoga Studio, a car wash, my office, church, a treadmill...anywhere...is always the center of my practice, no matter what I'm practicing.

I mean, how beautiful is this?

One of my questions when I first started practicing Yoga was regarding the word Namaste. At the end of class, the teacher bows to the class and says "Namaste;" the students bow back and repeat the word. I don't want to bow to another person and say something that I don't know what it means. So I did a little reading. The word is Sanskrit and it is basically a salutation. One of the translations is "I bow to the light inside of you." To me, there is only One Light. The One who came to the Earth and died on a cross so that I could live. That's The Light that I bow to. Another translation is that it is a mutual appreciation between the students and the teacher. I do appreciate the instructors because they assist me in a journey on my mat. I'm thankful for their guidance and instruction.

As for the Pranayama breathing that is taught in yoga: I like it. I can't help but think about that song, "This Is The Air I Breathe." What other time do you focus on your breath...your life force...as much as you do in yoga? If I don't breathe, I don't live. If I don't have Christ, I don't live. I imagine filling my lungs with His Breath and breathing it out for the rest of the world to see.  Louie Giglio says that 'Worship is simply giving God his breath back."  Genesis 2:7 says:
"Then the LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground. He breathed the breath of life into the man's nostrils, and the man became a living person."


Does everyone practice yoga like me? Nope. Does every Christian approach yoga in the same manner? Not likely. But I do...and that's all that matters to me.

My Alabaster Jar

1 comment:

  1. Absolutely love this post. Great way to connect to God and find peace during yoga class.