“Isn’t it a Buddhist or Hindu discipline?”
“Does practicing yoga open one up to harmful spiritual influences?”
I’ve even had people tell me that yoga teachers are “Hindu missionaries.”
And here’s the thing, it would be irresponsible of me dismiss those concerns entirely. There is no denying the Hindu influence in this practice. While the vast majority of today’s yoga teachers are not Hindu, they are not often professing followers of Christ, either. But, despite these concerns, I know that my God has used the practice of yoga to deepen my relationship with Him.
I’ve never attended a Christian yoga class. Most of my yoga teachers have not been Christians. Yet, my mat has been a very real sanctuary. I have come to know my Savior in such an intimate way through this practice and those teachers.
More and more, I’m bothered by the separateness the follows the mistaken belief that God is not actively pursing Every. Single. Person. Sure, we need to be discerning. But, we also need to remember that where He is at work, we can find Him and His Truth and Love.
My dad was a minister. I grew up in the Church. I attended Sunday school, Vacation Bible School, youth group and church camp. My Christian education was wide and deep. When I started college, I thought I knew exactly what it meant to be in relationship with the Living God. Then, seeking a form of exercise, I stumbled into a yoga class.
Today I’m launching a new series here in the Faith section about the things they didn’t teach me in Sunday school, but that I have discovered through yoga, about my relationship and walk with Christ. Over the next few weeks I’ll share more about:
– Seeing the Artist in His Art (How my study of the human body through yoga has brought me to my knees with awe for its Creator)
– Emmanuel in the Ashram (How I learned anew what it means to have God with me during my residential yoga teacher training in a Hindu Ashram)
I hope and pray this series helps to ease the concerns of many Christians about the practice of yoga. But, more importantly, I hope it will remind us all that when we seek Him, we will find Him – whether that is on a yoga mat, in nature, on the mission field, in school or at work. May we all be increasingly aware of the way Love is at work in our own heart and in the heart of every single person we meet.
I’d love to hear your stories about how yoga has affected your faith or the unexpected ways God has used something or someone to reveal Himself to you! Please share in the comments!