Why a Practicing Christian Practices Yoga

Today, in celebration of International Yoga Day, I posted on Facebook about my favorite yoga pose. (Shavasana, anyone?) The ever-conscientious social media poster, I wondered what some of those on my newsfeed might think of that. Yoga traditionally (I really don’t know the full history) comes from an Eastern religious background. As a Christian, I don’t believe Eastern religious teachings. So why yoga?

I love to read, and I love to learn. And recently I’ve been reading a lot of posts and articles about yoga. And you know what I’ve found? When I apply my worldview to the principles of yoga, most of those principles are in line with what I believe as well. Doesn’t make sense? Well, let me explain.

Here are a few reasons I practice yoga:

1. Yogis are some of the most disciplined people in the world.

Have you ever seen a picture or heard of a yogi who meditates for hours, sometimes days? That takes discipline. Just the simple word practice indicates that yoga itself is a discipline. Consistent practice makes me better at yoga. Consistent Bible reading and prayer draw me closer to God, making me more like Him. And being like Him is my ultimate goal. 1 John 2:6: "Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did."

2. Meditation is good for the mind and spirit.

While I don't believe that you have to turn inward to find truth, I do believe that prayer and meditation calm the mind while bringing us closer to God. Just a quick search of the word "meditate" on Bible Gateway brings up a slew of verses about meditating on the laws and precepts of God, as well as his love and faithfulness. What better way to clear the mind than to meditate on the One who made us? Not to mention the myriad of verses about being still in God's presence, like Psalm 46:10: "He says, 'Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.'" And Exodus 14:14: "The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.”

3. Yoga and deep stretching are excellent for the body.

Yes, I am going to talk about how our bodies are temples. We all need to move more, eat better, sleep more, stress less. Sounds simple, right? If you are living right now (which I suspect you are), you know this equation is anything but simple. But God gave us one body to take care of - how exactly is a poor diet and minimal movement taking care of what we've been given? It's a cliche, sure, but our body is a Temple for the Holy Spirit; He dwells within us. (1 Corinthians 6:19-20: "Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.") Adding movement to my day - even slow, mindful movements like when practicing yoga - brings me closer to fulfilling this.

4. The world would be a better place if we all practiced mindfulness.

So here's my understanding of mindfulness: living in the moment (not dwelling on the past, which we cannot change, and not worrying about the future, which we cannot know [Matthew 6:25-34]) and being present in all things. How else are we not to miss all the great gifts God has placed on this earth for us? Mindfulness allows us to be grateful for all things. Isaiah 43:18-19: “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland."

So what do you think? Do you think you would give yoga a try?