A holistic life is my dream, but the reality is more akin to a series of compartments. Each section has topics that are kosher and topics that are taboo. Places in life where I wear a covering on my hair and places where I let my hair flow freely. Groups with whom I can share my heart and groups where my heart is shielded and protected. Sadly, my church is a place where I have to keep my life neatly in a box. Certain aspects of my thoughts and my life are closely guarded for fear of judgment and repercussions. When I shared with my church about Holy Yoga teacher training there was grave concern. I have since given up any public yoga practice (both as a student and teacher) but maintain my personal practice at home. Sadly, I don’t feel like I can talk about this at church or allow myself to be fully known. I don’t feel like people would want to take the time to truly understand. So I simply box this up and tuck it away to share with those outside who accept me with greater understanding and compassion.
Last summer I made a dear friend in the secular yoga world. “A” was offering free yoga classes in the park and my family and I loved to join her. We became good friends and she was even willing to come to some of my fledgling attempts at student teaching Holy Yoga. The practice of yoga brought a Christian and non-Christian together in a common space. She taught me so much about the physical practice of yoga. I was able to share the word of God with her. There was mutual respect and appreciation on both sides.
Because of giving up public yoga practice, we are not able to meet together anymore. At least, I feel in good conscience I cannot while maintaining a peaceful relationship with my church. The cost is a broken relationship with a friend. I wonder what she thinks of Christianity now? Would she ever want to come to church or Bible study if she new that the end result was that she would have to give up yoga? However if I practice and teach yoga publicaly the cost would be a broken relationship with my church–the opposite of the unity we are called to in Christ.
I know that Jesus calls us to lay down our treasures to follow him. In Matthew 16:24-25 Jesus says, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.” I would gladly lay down yoga if convicted that was truly from the LORD. However in personal experience I have found yoga to be a great bridge to share the gospel with people who otherwise have very little contact with Christianity. From a common ground a new truth may be shared.
Jeremiah 17:5-10 says:
“5 This is what the Lord says:“Cursed is the one who trusts in man,
who draws strength from mere flesh
and whose heart turns away from the Lord.
6That person will be like a bush in the wastelands;
they will not see prosperity when it comes.
They will dwell in the parched places of the desert,
in a salt land where no one lives.
7“But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord,
whose confidence is in him.
8They will be like a tree planted by the water
that sends out its roots by the stream.
It does not fear when heat comes;
its leaves are always green.
It has no worries in a year of drought
and never fails to bear fruit.”
9The heart is deceitful above all things
and beyond cure.
Who can understand it?
10“I the Lord search the heart
and examine the mind,
to reward each person according to their conduct,
according to what their deeds deserve.”
My trust is in the LORD. My heart desires to seek and honor Him. Does the Lord see the person who is sincerely seeking to live in love and share his truth through the modality of yoga? Will he say “Well done good and faithful servant.”(Matthew 25:21), or “I never knew you. Away from me you evil doer.” (Matthew 7:23)
I am caught in a quandary. Do I remain in my box, camouflaged in security, or do I follow my heart–that which is deceitful in all things. Neither seems like a very good answer. I want to believe that yoga is redeemed at the foot of the cross. What has sometimes be intended for evil may be used for good when covered by the blood of Christ.
Christians, Yogis, Christian Yogis: What do you think?
P.S. Here is a link to a great post for those who want more: It’s Only Weird It It Doesn’t Work