Yoga is an ancient physical and mental practice which dates back thousands of years. The word yoga means “to join or yoke together” and refers to bringing the body and mind together in harmony. Yoga is a great tool for strengthening the body, improving balance and flexibility, and improving health and well-being. Research demonstrates that a regular yoga practice may produce numerous physical and mental benefits.
While yoga itself does not have religious origins, other religions over the ages have incorporated yoga as part of their practice. Christians have also adapted yoga as a tool to draw us closer to God while reaping the physical and mental benefits of yoga. Among some believers, this may be a source of controversy. I once read “no religion has claim over movement and breath” and this is true. It may help to think of yoga like prayer or fasting. No religion can claim these practices as their own, but different religions may use them. It’s all about intention. God looks at the intent of our hearts, and we don’t have to feel condemned in His presence.
There are 3 main components of a yoga practice—movement, breathing exercises, and meditation.
Movement: Most people think of yoga postures, or “asanas,” when they think of yoga. Practicing yoga postures helps us develop strength, flexibility, balance and improved concentration. Yoga postures are adaptable for various physical and mental states, ages, and level of activity. The postures help us develop discipline, but are never meant to cause pain.
Yoga integrates mindful awareness and breath while moving, strengthening the mind-body connection. As a Christ-follower, these practices can draw us closer to our Creator as a physical form of worship.
Breath: The breathing practices of yoga help us gain control of our respiratory process while recognizing the link between our breath, mind, and emotions. Being aware of our breath brings us into the present. We can calm our mind by slowing down our breath. Deep breathing can bring us out of “fight-or-flight” mode and into a state of relaxation. By lengthening and deepening our breath, it helps to calm and clear the mind.
In a yoga practice, breathing exercises may be practiced alone, or integrated into movement.
Meditation: Meditation is an active surrender to inactivity. It means being still and silent, not trying to control our thoughts, but being aware of them. As a Christ-follower, God calls us to “be still and know I am God.” (Psalm 46:10) Christian meditation helps clear the mental clutter, bringing us in tune to His still, small voice. Being still and silent brings awareness to His presence in our lives and community.
A yoga class may include some form of meditation, or may be encouraged as a practice off your mat. There are various ways to practice meditation. Many Christians may choose to focus on scripture during meditation, or listen to worship music. There is no wrong way to “stop and be still.”
Holy Yoga is a form of faith-based yoga. It is designed to deepen your connection to Christ which may utilize prayer, worship music, and His Word in addition to Christ-honoring yoga practices. While Jesus was on this earth, he often took time away to be with His Father. The intention of a Holy Yoga class is to create this space to step away from your busy lives and be with God. The calm, stillness, focus, and strength gained in a regular practice extends far beyond our time on the mat.
For those who live in Mobile, AL, feel free to visit my Mindful Movement Page for more information on classes.
To find a class in your area, visit Holy Yoga‘s Find an Instructor Page.Follow me on social media: