As I’m still in my beginning baby blog stages, I’m hoping you learn more about me before I get into the good stuff (even though this post is the BEST stuff). I am a Christian Yogi, and there’s a very common misconception that Christianity and Yoga do not mix. In fact it’s a common misconception that they are polar opposites and I’m here to tell you that is false.
Although the poses (asanas) in yoga are meant to aid you physically, they are very much also meant to connect you to God. Now, that’s where it gets tricky. There are gods, goddesses, it is rooted in Buddha teachings which I’m not here to disagree with, but the question is – WHAT GOD are we talking about?
The choice is yours. For me – I strongly believe in one God, Jesus of Nazareth. I am a Bible based yoga if you will. For others, their God may be their money. It may be of a different religion and I’m not here to bash that. But as I introduce you to myself, there is no better day to post on Christian Based Yoga, or at least my belief system and my God whom I connect with while practicing.
In Yoga Teacher Training, we learn many things that go against my belief system, because we have to have a foundation as to why yoga is different than other physical practices. It integrates physical practice with mindfulness, connection to the one you serve, and so forth. But it was founded many years ago, one thing that stuck with me about the poses and the practice and art of yoga is that people were unaware of God. They didn’t understand nature. They didn’t understand things like storms, droughts, natural disasters and they wanted to make peace with “who” was doing this. You have to take your mind back in time, far from the knowledge we have now, forget religion. I’ll save the rest of that origin for another day. And … for the record – I am FAITH based, BIBLE based, and I don’t succumb to a religion or pastor or anything other than what is written.
One more thing – I have 3 Bachelor’s degrees and it made no sense to my family (also hardcore believers) why I would spend thousands on yoga school to take an immense pay-cut. It also was uneasy to them because they believed yoga to be of another religion, postures, asanas representing forms of worshipping other Gods. His word says there shall be no other God, and it frightened them that I was swaying from my belief system.
Is it true that is questionable whether it is okay for Christians to practice yoga? Yes! I’ve walked into many studios that were about spiritual downloads (again another topic), and tarot and leading spirits in. Let me say I’ve swayed from my belief system before and I very much believe (declare) we live in a spiritual realm. I have let unwelcome spirits in, and it’s a scary place to be. I’ve walked right out of those places.
Did you know, however, that the postures are actually found throughout scripture! God created us to be spiritual beings, with a body to help facilitate connection with Him. These postures actually BRING us closer to prayer and closer to thoughts and feelings directly to our prayer life. In yoga, we can use this gracefully to move, facilitate, breathe, speak with God, our Creator.
Let’s get a little deep… but to be honest these below are only the tip of the iceberg with very little commentary and one of many verses attached.
• Standing – Mark 11:25 “…and when you stand praying…” Can we not worship standing, praising? Can we not show God honor by standing to worship and pray? (Mountain Pose, Warrior)
• Kneeling – all throughout scripture. Do many of us not kneel as we pray? Kneeling is humility in form. (Hero, childs pose)
• Sitting – 2 Samuel 7:18 “Then King David went and sat before the Lord” or how about the last supper? Fact: the actual first yoga pose was sitting. When we sit we are still with God, to meditate, pray, speak to Him, and this goes with many of the other bullets I have listed, which are VERY minute. (Lotus, simple seated, bound ankle)
• Extending Arms -Exodus 9:29 “…I will spread out my arms in prayer to the Lord…” (Moses). what a way to demonstrate our gratitude for the glory bestowed upon us! I know in church (and I will add this here, again, I’m Bible based even though I did grow up Baptist AND Catholic, I believe the Bible and I am not of denomination. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with being of one, that’s just my preference. Back to the point, when we extend our arms, we may be opening them to acceptance of His gifts, giving praise, receiving. (Tree)
• Bow – Genesis 24:26-27 “Then the man bowed down and worshipped the Lord…” I don’t think there’s really much to say about bowing and praying. It’s another act of humility, and it is all throughout scripture. We bow because we honor, and physically acknowledge that we aren’t on the same playing field. In fact we are servants, not even worthy to look up to God. (Bow (duh), humble warrior, forward fold)).
• Laying – Job 1:20-21 “…the he fell to the ground in worship.” (Job) – we lie down in many emotions and pour out our struggles, because He cares. Another act of humility. Also – Be still and know. Be. Still. (Childs pose, puppy pose, prostrate, savasana)
• Glancing Up – Psalm 121 “I lift my eyes up to the mountains – where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the maker, of heaven and Earth.” So many passages throughout the Bible – he also wants us to look up to Him in PRAISE. Again, we aren’t on a level playing field but we ARE showing a physical act of worship and invitation from the Lord to show such gratitude of His mercy. (Pretty much all poses!)
•Free Movement – Psalm 149:3 “Let them praise His name with dancing and make music to Him with trimbrel and harp.” He wants us to be happy! He wants us to dance! We were not created to be idle. It is joyful and freeing. (In yoga, flows are “dancing”)
•Wrestling – Genesis 32:24 “So Jacob was left alone and a man wrestled with him til daybreak…” (some believe this man to be God, because the the verse continues to say “…I will not let you go until you bless me.” I can’t personally think of whom else that could be that would be worthy of being blessed. How many times have we wrestled with God? How many times were our ways better than His in our minds? His ways are not ours but we will wrestle for much longer than Jacob did until we finally BLESS HIM!
•Meditation – Genesis 24:63 “He went out to the field one evening to meditate.” It boggles my mind how people believe meditation is not the same as prayer, or being alone with God. It is EXACTLY the same thing. The issue is the verbiage. The issue is that we have a breakdown that meditation is … something else. Meditation is throughout the Bible so much that I’d have to do a 5-day lesson without break to even go there! Mind. Body. Spirit.
So my friends, remember on this day and every day – Connect to breath, sync body and mind, be with Him in stillness/mindfulness, and meditate on HIM and His blessings.
Until next time my friends, NAMASTE