Yoga as a Spiritual Practice
Yesterday Christine Sine posted another blog in her series “What is a Spiritual Practice?” It was written by Christina Whitehouse-Suggs and was about yoga as a spiritual practice. This is something that obviously caught my attention as yoga has (especially in the past two years) become a very dear part of my life and a very significant way that I relate to God. Let me begin by specifying for all of you that yoga is not in and of itself spiritual. It is not a religion and it does not need to be practiced religiously. I know that there are those who think that yoga is part of Eastern religion and Hinduism in particular and that because of that Christian’s shouldn’t practice it. I strongly disagree with this, on two levels. One being that it’s just not true. Yoga is not religious in and of itself. Yoga is a philosophy. Like any other philosophy it can be incorporated with a broad range of religions or it can be followed or practiced on its own without religious connections. Secondly, I tend to think that even if it was really religious in nature there would still be things that we as Christian’s could learn from it. I think there are probably things that we could learn from a lot of other religions. Not that I think we should openly accept anything and everything that is out there, but I do think that an open and honest dialogue can never be really harmful and that we can glean much from people who believe and practice a faith that is different than our own.
That all being said I think that for me yoga, both the physical practice and the philosophy of yoga have become very spiritual and very closely connected with my religious experience. I have learned and continue to learn a lot about God and life and myself through yoga. And I have experienced God through my yoga practice. It stretches me and grows my faith and draws me into an experience of the divine just as any other spiritual practice does.
I have written off and on quite a bit about how I relate to God through yoga, giving examples of things I learn from yoga and even posting yoga routines that incorporate scripture and prayer and that have been powerful experiences for me. To share all these posts again would be way too much, but I did want to re-share a few of them that specifically talked about things I’ve learned about God and myself through yoga to compliment Christina’s wonderful posts about what she has learned through her yoga experience.
Here are both of Christina’s posts on yoga as a spiritual practice:
Becoming a Good Student – about the “five qualities that contribute to being a good student of yoga and how they relate to natural elements”. She points out that these are also significant qualities needed for being a follower or student of Christ.
Here are just a few of mine:
Lessons from Yoga: Headstands – about experiencing a tangible picture for the up-side-down and back-wards kingdom that Christ calls us to
Lessons from Yoga: Warrior Poses – about power and fighting for justice and standing up for ourselves
Lessons from Yoga: Savasana and Letting Go – about surrendering to God and letting go
Lessons from Yoga: Focus – about the difference that focusing on God instead of ourselves can make
Hope you enjoy some or all of these posts.
Rejoicing in the journey - Bethany