PUBLISHER’S NOTE: In late 2010 there was a media buzz surrounding the perceived tension between the Christian faith and the practice of yoga. Positions by Christian leaders prompted this. The Associated Press reported, “Southern Baptist Seminary President Albert Mohler says the stretching and meditative discipline derived from Eastern religions is not a Christian pathway to God.” It further reported, “California megachurch pastor John MacArthur called yoga a ‘false religion.’” Faith & Fitness Magazine challenges readers to pray, seek God, and pursue faithful living both physically and spiritually. The following article will help you consider how Christ can be central in every aspect of life – even those areas that Christians often abandon to other religions. The calls to be silent, meditate, worship and seek unity with God are core practices of the Christian faith. Christians need to lead in demonstrating the deep pursuit of God in all areas of life. Quit asking, “Should Christians do yoga?” Instead start asking, “How can I more fully know God with my spirit, mind AND body?” Don’t get hung up on a word. Instead get fully absorbed in God. All photos copyright Holy Yoga/Brooke Boon. Used by permission.
When I became a Christian, I took the idea of surrender seriously. I wanted my entire life to be transformed by my new relationship with Jesus Christ. I surrendered every part of who I was, all that I did, all that I had, and all that I loved. I wanted Him to be in charge and that included my yoga practice.
I was an avid yoga practitioner and a thriving yoga instructor. I wasn’t sure how my yoga practice would fit into my newfound faith, so I started focusing on Jesus while on my mat. I quickly discovered a deep and profound connection with Him that I didn’t find anywhere else. I realized that my love for God didn’t mean that I had to give up my love for yoga and it made this journey even more meaningful.
Before I was a Christian, yoga was merely a physical practice that brought me some sense of peace. But, by incorporating prayer, meditation and scripture, my practice transformed into a worship experience. I learned that anything done to honor God is worship and this new yoga experience allowed me to honor God with my heart, spirit, mind, and body.
Everything I discovered on my mat stayed with me off the mat. I would leave my practice feeling centered, grounded, peaceful, and revitalized – and not just in a physical sense, but emotionally and spiritually. It felt like I had my inner battery charged straight from the source. This available and easy connection with God made it simple to tap into His peace and joy throughout my day. Not only was my yoga practice transformed, but God used this discipline to change me.
Connecting with Christ in this new way was amazing and I had to share it with others. That’s when Holy Yoga began. Like the Biblical story in Acts where Peter felt compelled to explain to the religious leaders – the Sanhedrin what he had experienced, I had to speak about my personal experienced. God took what began as a personal practice and developed it into a ministry that has over 300 teachers and thousands of practitioners worldwide. People are discovering a way to worship the Lord in a “wholistic” fashion with all their heart, soul, mind and strength as the Bible instructs. They are also discovering how the spiritual discipline of Holy Yoga can transform and deepen their intimacy with God.
According to Jesus, loving God with your entire being is the most important commandment. That is the entire aim of Holy Yoga. Traditional yoga, which means to yoke, connects breath with movement. Holy Yoga goes beyond that and yokes our body with our spirit and then ourselves with God. We incorporate scripture, meditation, prayer, music, breath, and movement into a full worship experience solely dedicated to connect with Jesus Christ.
Holy Yoga is all about Jesus. It is about deepening our relationship with Him. It is a spiritual discipline with the same goal as any other discipline, such as prayer, fasting and meditation to encounter God. Holy Yoga is no more about the yoga as worship music is about music. In this practice, we commit all that we are including our very breath and our every move to Jesus Christ. It is about being still in our minds and in our hearts so that we can experience a relationship with Him and spend time in that moment. While there are physical benefits in doing Holy Yoga, my sincere hope is that the spiritual benefits far outweigh the physical ones in both number and significance.
Physically, we can develop both strength and flexibility, which could relieve stress-related issues, back pain, arthritis, diabetes, high blood pressure, respiratory issues and digestive disorders. It can lead to weight reduction and muscle strengthening which have multiple physical benefits in themselves.
Just as the physical results are unique to each individual, we cannot guarantee any particular spiritual experience for everyone. But, imagine what would happen in our lives, let alone in our faith, if we were to spend an hour or more a week still before God. Perhaps it would reawaken our hearts and ignite spiritual transformation.
I want to share a Holy Yoga experience that can continue off the mat and into other areas of our lives. Many of our instructors apply the Holy Yoga experience to serve in other ministries. For example, our Spiritual Director, Jennifer Miller, created a ministry called Home Life Revolution that connects with the heart of Holy Yoga. She teaches people how to revolutionize their marriages and their families by living life with Jesus at the center.
If you are already a yoga practitioner, you can begin the way that I did and just focus on Jesus, weaving scripture into your practice. Or, perhaps you can attend a Holy Yoga class. We have classes offered by Holy Yoga trained instructors all around the country. These classes provide a sense of community, which is one of the greatest benefits of Holy Yoga. The fellowship among students and amidst our current instructors is inspiring.
Holy Yoga, however, isn’t an occasional class for physical fitness. Neither is it a religion that dictates how we are to live and worship the Lord. It is a spiritual practice that weaves into our current faith-walk. It connects us with God by giving us a new way to experience Him with our whole being.
I know that Holy Yoga may not be for everybody, but Jesus is. My sincere hope is that everyone discovers a personal relationship with Him, whether or not a yoga mat is involved in the process.
Brooke Boon the founder of Holy Yoga in 2003, is an expert yoga practitioner and certified master teacher, facilitating Holy Yoga ministries worldwide. Inspired by her own spiritual transformation, Brooke was prompted to augment a strong yoga practice with Christian spirituality. Her passion and her mission are clearly portrayed in her book, Holy Yoga, published in 2007 by Time Warner's Faith Words. She is also an international spokesperson for Christian yoga, representing Christian yoga before the Evangelical church of the UK and appearing in live global broadcasts such as World in Focus, Revelation TV and Genesis TV. Presently, over 300 instructors in three continents teach Holy Yoga classes at all levels.
Marisa Shadrick has been the Women’s Interest department editor for Faith & Fitness Magazine. She is hands-on about health management and enjoys encouraging women through her writing and public speaking. Her commitment to this magazine ministry has made a tremendous impact in the lives of our women readers. Her editorial role concluded in December 2010 so she can pursue other opportunities. We look forward to her occasional contributions in the future.