I was hesitant at first to even write this blog post, because I know it’s not going to sit well with some people, but in the last couple weeks I’ve had questions thrown at me about my faith in God and my love for Yoga and how I can possibly have both?! If you aren’t aware, there are many Christians who have a strong belief that Yoga is a dangerous and demonic practice, and you cannot worship a Christian God if you are also worshipping ‘false Gods’ and using your body in poses that are deemed dark and evil.
Does it really have to be one or the other or can both be present in our life?
Well, I personally believe you can have both. Infact, I believe they come hand in hand with one another. While I may be criticized for writing this, as Jesus was ridiculed for the places he went and people he hung out with. I am free to express my views, and if people feel they need to go out of their way to contact me to tell me I’m going to hell for doing Yoga, (Yes, can you believe people actually think it’s ok to tell another person they are going to hell?) they can atleast read my thoughts and views about it.
I do not believe for a second that practicing Yoga has any likes to ‘dancing with the devil’. Yoga to me is soulful, gentle and spiritual – how can something so soft and peaceful be deemed so dark and evil? And before you get started with the facts – I know them all too – I suppose this all comes down to that everyone is entitled to their own opinions, and well, this is mine.
I practice crystal healing, smudging, essential oils, moon cycles, and all the energy that flows from those things too, and while many will argue the fact that this is also a demonic practice from dark forces, and that the “source” of this power isn’t Godly. I believe in the good, positive energy and healing they bring.
Most people believe in something bigger than themselves, whether it may be God, Mother Nature or the Universe, or all the above, whatever you feel in your heart and whatever you are connected to that’s perfectly ok because it’s YOUR religion and it’s YOUR life. While I believe in God, I would never judge the next person if they didn’t have the same faith as me, nor would I ever pressure them to join my faith or tell them they are going to hell just because they don’t agree with my opinion! Your relationship with who or what you worship is a very personal thing, just like my relationship with God is very personal to me. My relationship will be different to someone else’s relationship, and my commitment and devotion may be at a different level to others, and that’s ok! It doesn’t mean I’m loved any less by my God.
(I’m going to give myself a little Amen! for that last line)
My faith is the core of how I live my life, where my values lye and the type of person I strive to be, and I practice this everyday. I believe in leading by example, and If the way I live my life inspires or motivates another to do good, then I know God is using me to do his work, and that is so pleasing to my heart.
I have often found it easier to be faithful to yoga than to my religious traditions. I have often found that yoga opens my heart and mind to God in a gentle, renewing way. Sunday mornings in church often left me restless, or feeling spiritually hungry for more. In contrast, my weekly yoga classes leave me feeling renewed, balanced, and wholesome, with a quiet spirit.
I have experienced the love of God in such a strong, powerful and healing way on the mat, that I cannot go along with the notion that a Christian cannot practice yoga. There are times to go deep and there are times to rest and receive. Just like the beautiful warrior pose, both deepening and softening are necessary for a strong and growing walk with God.
In the last 18 months that I have really delved into my yoga practice, I feel my connection to my faith has deepened. I’ve experienced so much magic, that I can only put it down to God and the life he is speaking into my heart.
One of my favourite parts of my yoga practice is meditation and I believe meditation opens us to the voice of God. I like to think that prayer is when I talk to God, and meditation is when God speaks to me. It’s hard to hear what God is trying to say to us when we rarely get quiet enough to listen attentively to the still small voice. Learning to be still allows us to be still and know.
“People may be right in their own eyes, but the Lord examines their heart.” -Proverbs 21:2
One of my teachers refers to yoga as “the process of noticing.” At its most basic, yoga is a physical discipline involving stretching, strength training and breathing exercises. By practicing the physical aspects of the discipline, we develop an acute awareness of the natural state of our bodies, increased focus and heightened self-control. If we are more aware of the natural state of our bodies, how much more can we be aware of when the Holy Spirit is moving within us?
Why do we pray? Why do we read Scripture? To be more fully connected to God, of course. If the Holy Spirit is dwelling within us, an inward practice is not selfish or demonic—it’s necessary.