Christian Yoga


Do you like to relax?  I sure do, and one way I find that really helps me is yoga.  There is a very non-Christian spiritual side to yoga, that I think scares Christians away from practicing.  I have found yoga to be a wonderful way to draw closer to Christ and help stretch out my body.  He want us to take care of the bodies he gave us. One way I do it is through yoga.  I have seen the headlines, and heard some really scary stuff about how this is drawing me away from God and I'm being deceived.  My take on this is to do some research, and talk with God about where he wants you on this issue.

I think about Christ, and what he would do, and what he did.  When he woke up from a night camping, do you think he stretched?  My guess is that he did.  When he was about to speak, did he take some calming deep breaths? He did walk a lot, so his need for breath and body movement was probably fulfilled daily.  Where we live sedimentary lives, and need to get up and move, yoga helps me do that.

God has given us amazing bodies, that can heal themselves.  Our bodies do not want to be full of diseases, and have ways of healing, that we do not understand.  I practice trigger point therapy.  It is a method that pushes points on the body to stimulate healing.  Sounds weird, and it is, this is how my father explains it. "I don't have to know how a light is wired to know that when I flip the switch a light will come on."  Same thing with these points on the body.  Our bodies have energy and are 'wired' in such a way, that if you 'flip' the switch a light will come on.  

Here are some things that I do understand about our bodies and why yoga is good for them.
Breathing, helps to calm your mind so it does reduce blood pressure.  It fills your body with oxygen and can be a good thing to focus on to help calm you.
Stretching improves blood flow and muscle tone.  Your flexibility is a major indicator of heart health.  Stretching prevents injury.
Holding a pose builds strength and endurance.  Your own body weight provides resistance to build strength.   Better posture is a result of all three.

Here is what a practice for me looks like:

At the beginning I take a moment to pray and ask God to be with me, and I dedicate my practice to him.   I do this at home or if I'm in a class.  If I'm in a class it is helpful to repeat a Bible verse.

During the practice I focus mainly on breathing.
Inhalation I focus on elongating my body or moving into a standing pose.
Exhalation I focus on moving into a lower pose or deepening the pose I'm in.

I begin with a seated pose, and work on relaxing my face, shoulders and neck - that's where most of the tension in my body is.  Once my breath is even (usually after 8-10 breaths) I will do some light twists.

Focused Breathing and spine warm-up:

Full body Warm-Up:
Lunge
Lunge
(Repeat an even number of times, switching between right and left legs taking the first steps)

Strengthening:

Cool Down:
relation pose - stay here and think about relaxing everything
Thank God for the opportunity to take care of your body.  

Do you practice yoga, or do you think it's bad? Have you tried and felt that it was a hindrance to your Christian walk?   I'd love to hear your thoughts, even if you 100% disagree with me.



Blessings,

Leslie



Additional Resources:
yogajournal.com
yogabasics.com
cbn.com/health/fitness/bagby_yoga-alternative.aspx
/praisemoves.com
pastormark.tv/2011/11/02/christian-yoga-its-a-stretch

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