Have you been looking for a way to bring more exercise and more prayer into your daily discipline? Would you like to combine both? Are you concerned about being a Christian and practicing Yoga? If you answered yes to any of these questions read on.
Yoga simply means Yoke. Christians know “yoke.” We are invited in Bible passages and in sermons to put on the yoke of Christ. Are you healthy enough to carry your yoke? In Yoga the practitioner is invited to experience the union of self to the creator whom Christians know as God, Our Father. That experience is accomplished through chanting, asanas (another name for Yoga postures), relaxation and meditation.
The chant word OM (aum) has the same vowel sound as God. When chanted, the word God can create the same vibration as OM, creating connection to God. Many Christian practices incorporate chanting of psalms and service music to enhance the spiritual experience. Chanting during yoga practice can create the same experience.
As humans we are only as good as we feel. It is our responsibility to take proper care of our mind, body, and spirit. Our body is the vehicle our spirit uses to do the work Christ has called us to do. The better we care for ourselves, the better able we are to serve the Lord. Yoga is a great way to care for and rehabilitate the body after an injury. Also, while practicing yoga, one is encouraged to listen to the body and respect its limitations to reduce the chance of injury. Yoga helps the participant to “remember” how to breathe deeply and completely from the diaphragm, something most adults have forgotten. Yoga also helps to rediscover how to be quiet inwardly and outwardly.
My first introduction to the healing possibilities of practicing yoga was through a story shared by a friend and the wife of an Episcopal Priest. She was injured in an accident and was told she would never be able to stand or walk again. She believed in the power of prayer and the possibility of yoga to bring her back to mobility. She found a way to practice yoga with a Christian mind and heart combining prayer and movement. She found healing and walked again.
My personal story includes such a recovery through practicing yoga. I injured my shoulder and after being treated by an orthopedic surgeon and receiving physical therapy, as well as doing all the recommended exercises, my recovery was measured at only 80%. That seemed to suit the physician but not me. I began using yoga for recovery. Through very careful asana practice where I never crossed into pain but worked through comfortable discomfort, I accomplished 100% recovery.
I was a yoga instructor at the YMCA in Orange City, FL. The “C” stands for Christian. One of their own publications included, “the Y stands for Yoga”. Any program presented at the YMCA must comply with strict guidelines that make it a safe place for all to practice their own beliefs and religions. You may also find a similar safe environment to practice.
If you prefer to practice on your own or just want more information on practicing yoga with a Christian mindset I highly recommend the following book that is now back in print: An Invitation to Christian Yoga by Nancy Roth. Here is what others write about this book:
"The long experience of Nancy Roth with hatha yoga practiced in a Christian context with all age groups is brought to articulate fruition in this fine book." Tilden Edwards
"That she includes theological and biblical reasons for yoga in a Christian context makes Roth's contribution unique." Library Journal
"Nancy Roth has written a simple, thoughtful introduction to hatha yoga in a Christian context as a way of deepening a connection with God...She offers instruction in breathing, relaxation, and meditation." Yoga Journal
Although yoga is increasingly popular as a source of spiritual and physical well being, few Christians know that it is also a unique way to worship God through the ancient practices and disciplines of body prayer. Nancy Roth's book offers an introduction to the practice of yoga as a Christian discipline of prayer, followed by simple poses and exercises that are clearly explained and illustrated by line drawings. Roth offers a short biblical text, often from the psalms, to accompany each pose as basis for meditation.
This book is ideal for beginners as well as more advanced practitioners who wish to incorporate yoga into their life of daily prayer.
One final thought; I always end my yoga classes with an empowering thought for the day followed by Namasté. I teach that Namasté means the Holy Spirit in me honors the Holy Spirit in you. I shall end this article the same way…Namasté.
Sources: Nancy Roth books can be found at www.revnancyroth.org/books. This article was contributed by Fran Henry. Fran is a life coach and small business coach, with more than 30 years’ experience in the health care/dental industry and six as a professional coach. She is also an AAAI/ISMA certified yoga instructor. She has for sale a DVD of the last two yoga classes she taught at the YMCA in Orange City, Fl prior to moving to TN. She resides in Cleveland, TN and can be reached at 423-472-0809 or email: email@example.com
Copyright 2007 Fran Henry