How I Decided To Make Yoga A Part of My Journey to Wholeness and Healing
“To the pure, all things are pure but to the defiled and unbelieving nothing is pure…” (Tit 1:15 KJV).
I took my place on the mat. I closed my eyes and breathed. I breathed slow and steady. I was intentional with every breath- inhale deep, exhale slow. I couldn’t remember ever experiencing this level of quiet and calm throughout my entire being – spirit, body, and soul. I was use to my days being busy and my evenings even busier.
The class was an hour long and I struggled to keep up as we transitioned from one pose to the next. The instructor encouraged us to hold our poses steady focusing on our core or some other part of my body that I didn’t know I had. We ended the session by giving ourselves a big, warm hug as a reminder to be kind to ourselves. As I sat there hugging myself tears began to stream down my face. They weren’t sad tears, or happy tears they were peaceful tears. It was an inner peace that completely consumed me. “Learn how to honor God’s rhythm” were the words that crossed my quiet mind. I listened to my breaths and my heartbeat and thought, “There is life here.” “I am alive.” It’s not that I didn’t know that I was alive I just never stopped long enough to think about it or think about what that meant.
The rhythm that I created for my life was very much a cacophony. There was the dropping kids off, picking kids up, preparing meals, cleaning the house, washing clothes, studying for my graduate degree, and did I mention my normal 9-5. I never considered that God had a rhythm for my life. Here I was a Christian of over 14 years, I was very active in my church supporting everything from the cleaning ministry to the women’s ministry, yet I never stopped to think about my life in the context of living.
Days earlier, I innocently sat down at the new blood pressure machine in the hallway at my job. Why was this here I wondered as I sat down and slipped my arm in the cuff. After answering a few questions and pushing a few buttons the cuff tightened around my arm. There were several loud beeps and finally the screen registered my blood pressure. Imagine my shock when it read “Hypertension” What! I exclaimed at the machine. I slipped my arm out of the cuff and shook it off (as if this would help). I slid my arm back in and proceeded to get a “second opinion”. Again the machine read “Hypertension”. My heart sank. How could I have hypertension? Sure I was chronically fatigue but that was par for the course considering everything that I had on my plate. But hypertension was serious and it was very different than chronic fatigue. Hypertension meant that I was stressed and neither I nor my body was dealing with it correctly.
Of course my next step was to schedule an appointment with my Physician. My normal Physician was out so I was seen by a nurse practitioner. She asked the usual lifestyle questions, do you drink? Do you smoke? Do you exercise? Occasionally, never, sometimes I responded. “You should try yoga.” She suggested.
Without hesitation I said, “I can’t. I’m a Christian.”
She smiled politely and said, “Okay. So what does that have to do with you doing yoga?”
I couldn’t answer the question because I didn’t know the answer. I didn’t know anything about yoga and I didn’t know what the Word of God said about it. I heard other Christians say that Christians shouldn’t do yoga. I didn’t recall the reasons why or the scriptures that they cited. They just said something about it being demonic and ungodly and I took their word for it. Instead of trying to argue a point that I had absolutely no understanding of, I simply asked, “Can’t you just give me some medicine or something to help with the stress and hypertension?” How crazy was that, I was more comfortable with taking medication despite its many side effects than I was trying a “holistic” approach to healing.
As I studied this topic of Christians and yoga I realized that there were many opinions from both sides. Those who thought that Christians shouldn’t do yoga cited concerns such as it opens spiritual doors that leave you spiritually vulnerable. Some say that it is a practice that encourages the worship of other gods, and others argue that it is a New Age practice that can lead to other forms of witchcraft. Those who believe that it is fine for Christians to do yoga boast its health benefits such as; its ability to combat chronic pain, relieve stress, lower blood pressure, reduce insomnia, and increase flexibility.
I have never gone beyond a beginner’s class in yoga and I’ve only attended about 20 classes across two different yoga studios so I am in no way an expert. However, in my experience, I have never felt that my faith was in any way compromised or in conflict with yoga as I know it and have experienced it. I have never taken a posture or position to pay honor or reverence to any other god, I never chanted (not even “om”), I never participated in guided meditation, and at no point during any of my 20 or so classes was I ever asked to do any of those things. We began and ended each class with our hands in a praying posture as we greeted one another with Namaste, which simply means, “the divine in me bows to the divine in you.”
As you enter into this new season I want you to consider healing and wholeness for your spirit, your body, and your soul (mind). Each is interconnected and each important to the other. 1 Thessalonians 5:23 (KJV) says, “… I pray God your whole spirit, and soul, and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” There are many debates on the issue of Christians and yoga. This article is nothing more than another personal testimony to consider as you, with help and guidance from the Holy Spirit, decide what is right for you and your spiritual walk. My only advice is that you stand firm in your decision and allow others the respect to stand firm in theirs. As the Apostle Paul reminds us in Romans 14:5 (Berean Study Bible), “One man regards a certain day above the others while someone else considers everyday alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind.”