For some people practicing yoga and following Jesus contradict each other. There is a common fear that by doing yoga you open up yourself to (evil) spirits and therefore it is considered dangerous. For me it is the exact opposite and here are my reasons:
I have been starting practicing yoga to do something about my constant back pain and also to relax my mind. I soon felt the benefits of the workout on my body and mind, as I came totally relaxed and re-focused out of my weekly class. Yoga is very aware of the body-mind connection, something I believe we have forgotten over the centuries in our western culture. There is something so fundamental about the art of breathing in yoga that connects with our humanity. Yoga teaches self-kindness ( don’t push yourself to hard in the workout, except where you are right now, because you are on a journey), it teaches gratitude ( for your healthy body) and to be in harmony with yourself and others. What is not christian about that?
Breathing well is a central part of your every practice. It is something we do without noticing, something that is the very essence of life. Something that makes me think of God, who is the breath of all life and the one who breathes life into me. During my summer reading I stumbled across something really interesting; The word for God, Yahweh, YHWH, is unspeakable for Jews. Its correct pronunciation is an attempt to replicate and imitate the very sound of inhalation and exhalation. It is the sound of breathing. I think that is such a beautiful explanation of the nature of God. Bearing that in mind yoga can be an expression of prayer for me. It teaches me that I have limits, but the limit is not the end in itself and not to be too critical or hard on myself and to take better care of my body and soul.
Every yoga session ends with the namaste (you bring your hands in front of your heart, close your eyes and bow your head), a gesture which should remind us, that we all bear the Divine spark in us. But this pose is also a beautiful reminder of the equality of the students and the teacher showing love and respect to each other.
Love, community, respect, gratitude, harmony are all part of gospel living. So following Jesus and practicing yoga are not that different……