I remember when I said "yes" to yoga, the very second. I was at a local studio in "Warrior 2" pose, the instructor was giving directives and says "if your front leg is hurting, straighten it". That was the moment! Every single exercise experience of my life had been wrought with "push yourself, no pain, no gain, work for it, don't stop......etc". When what I heard was "be where you are and be happy there", it felt like the first bite of a strawberries and cream snowball on a Louisiana summer afternoon. PURE GRACE. I knew that day that I loved yoga and would stick with it even though, in my once typical, "compare myself to every person in class" mode, I totally sucked at it.
Fast forward six months. I had been attending three classes a week and was struggling with some of the spiritual aspects of yoga. I heard them say that "yoga is not religion", yet I couldn't help but feel that some of the teachers brought their personal religious beliefs to the table through things that were said during class. I decided to see if I could find a Christian class and none existed in Baton Rouge. Online I stumbled upon Holy Yoga and decided to bring it myself, since the need was obvious.
Over the last 2 years my yoga practice has been a transformational experience. It is my spiritual discipline and I have spent more time with Jesus on my mat in this short time than the previous 20 years combined. I have no doubt that God led me to yoga and my connection with Him has deepened so much it is amazing. Sadly, it has not been without criticism. Though it is hard for most to imagine that something so wonderful and life giving could cause others to judge, that is very much the case. Just this morning I was faced with the pain of that judgement. So I thought I would share my thoughts.
Yoga is not religion. It is breathe, movement, stillness, presence, and so much more. Yoga has been around longer than the religions that have tried to claim they own it. So has prayer and meditation. Yes, there are aspects of "yoga culture" that I do not ascribe to but I certainly don't judge those that do and have no problem practicing with them. My intention is always Jesus, my breathe is prayer, my movement is worship to God!
The temptation is to make this a lengthy argument filled with scripture but something I have found to be true is this, people believe what they want to believe! Then, if they are Christian, they simply find scripture to back it up. For some reason they think their scripture are more valid than the next persons. There are so many commandments and instructions in scripture but somehow we overlook the part that says that the greatest commandment is love. If we boiled it down to what matters most that is it. Yet many want to live in boxes that their religious tradition has created, filled with rules that are simple to follow. So many can'ts and don'ts, so little focus on FREEDOM! I spent many years in that box. Loving is messy and hard. Not judging is really really hard. Freedom is not easy to walk in but it is so worth the messy, hard road to get to.
As I look back on my beginnings in yoga I realize what attracted me to it is the same thing that drew me to Jesus, PURE GRACE. If yoga isn't your thing, that's cool, don't do it. However, if fear is the road block, remember that "perfect love casts out fear". LOVE is so much greater than fear. God has used my practice to opened my heart up to so much more love and grace, not only for others but for myself, which is a whole other post. I just wanted to share my heart about this. Love is what matters. If you follow every rule and you do not have love.......you know the rest. Praying your life is filled with light, love, and liberty!
If you are looking for a more informational, scripture filled perspective I encourage to go to Vineyard Church of Baton Rouge website, this is a link to sermon archives. Go to 8/30/15 and listen to Jon's sermon titled "Culturally Relevant Missions". Game changer!!!