Christian Yoga is all about what is in your heart. If the King is in your heart when you practice that is all that matters.
When I first started doing yoga 6.5 years ago I was following a series on FIT TV. The show was about 25 minutes of Vinyasa (or flow) Yoga. Every day was a different routine and I was so excited because my body was stretching in ways I never knew possible. My muscles were beginning to feel great and the stretching even seemed to be helping me with some of the problems that I have with my joints. My hips have always been super tight and my ankles weak. Doing yoga seemed to be helping with those problems. I also liked it because I didn’t feel exhausted at the end of the workout. Instead, I felt rejuvenated and ready to approach the day. This is how I taught myself yoga.
Now, at this point in my life I was new to my personal relationship with Jesus. I had grown up in the church but had truly only given my life to him maybe three years prior. Even so I knew that at the end of the practice, when I was suppose to thank and honor myself, I would always choose to speak to God at this time. I knew (and still know) that God is in charge of all things and He is always the one I should thank and honor. Sometimes I even sit for a few minutes extra with hands at heart center praying for myself and for others and showing gratitude to the Lord for all he has done.
I am still practicing yoga today. I have only been to a few classes because I mainly like to watch DVDs, youtube videos at home, or even just make own routine. My body feels amazing when I am practicing regularly. In contrast, when I stop my hips start aching, my knees hurt and my whole insides just feel kinda tight. It is hard to explain. I have learned that I need to include gentle yoga (stretching) into my weekly routines.
Recently, there has been a lot of backlash about Christians doing yoga. Some say it is fine while others are adamant that you are now involved in demon summoning. (Yes, I read that.) I don’t normally do opinionated posts but I felt compelled to put my truth out there. I am a Christian first and foremost. I love God and Jesus and want to live my life for Him. I enjoy many other things in life and yoga is one of them. If you think that makes me a bad Christian, you should hear about some of the other terrible things I do. Sometimes I curse, I judge people, I drink too much (emphasis on sometimes). I can promise you that yoga isn’t what is bringing me down. In fact, yoga has made me a better Christian and continues to mold me. That is why there can be such thing as Christian yoga, because it can help you get closer to God and fill you with His peace.
Have we forgotten about the teachers of the law in Jesus’ day? They too thought that a lot of things were bad to do and they wasted a lot of time trying to catch people doing things wrong. Then Jesus came around and saw what was in their hearts. He knew the man on the steps of the temple had faith in Him to heal his hand so, he did it. No matter what day of the week it was (Mark 3: 1-6). He knew that the teachers of the law’s hearts were hardened and he did not bother to answer their inquiries (Matthew 23:23). Jesus still knows our hearts.
So, what is Christian Yoga? Well, first of all it is exercising and stretching. I suppose if you are thinking of the “sun god” while you do up dog then you are worshiping him or her or it or whatever. But I am not thinking of that. I am thinking breathe in keep your legs off the ground. I am thinking my arms might fall off. I am thinking please let this be over soon.
My God knows that when my physical body feels better I am better able to connect with Him, to be a model to my children of what a child of God behaves like, and to be a light for the world. Does 15 minutes of stretching make me a worse Christian than you? I don’t think so. In fact, I dare say that Yoga, more than any other sport, has brought me closer to my maker. I don’t pray at the end of any other workout. I don’t get a nice little chit chat about being a better person and connecting with my higher being before a training session at my gym. I do those things before, during and after yoga. I look toward the sky and think about Jesus. I talk with God at the end of a yoga session and thank Him for the simple things in life that make me feel happy. I take the peace that I find during practice back into my world, to my children and to my husband.
We have all sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Romans 3:23 If doing yoga makes you worship the “sun god” then don’t do it. Duh! But if doing yoga brings you peace and closer to the Lord then do it. Only God knows what is in our hearts.
Want to read more articles on yoga and Christianity? Check out these popular articles from some other bloggers:
Mindfullcollective.com This is a quick and great read from a Christian and Yogi of 19 years. Read for tips on how to be gracious in the face of doubt.
thechristiangirl.com This post is an interview with Brooke the founder of Holy Yoga. Her words literally made me cry. You will be moved too.
Melissawest.com This is a video post from a woman who was raised as a Christian but does not practice anymore. She is a yoga instructor and her main message is that Yoga is not a religion.
How to stand up for yourself My own post on how to stand up for yourself. You might want to read if someone in your life has been challenging you about your yoga practice.