For those of you who don't know, I have been a trained yoga instructor for over 10 years and a follower of Jesus my whole life. I have taught numerous modalities of fitness and have felt led to teach as well as start a business/ministry in this field. This has been a very vulnerable and God led journey for me. When I started teaching 'Christian Yoga' I was nervous the Yoga community would scoff at me, but to my surprise, it was the Christian community that pushed back. At the time, I was mortified and felt the Christian perspective of yoga was extremely close-minded. I realize now that there are legitimate reasons behind a believers hesitation about yoga.
Yoga has become a major part of our western world. It is almost everywhere you look and is commonly accepted as an approach to health and healing. Doctors are recommending it to their clients; chiropractors, nursing homes and hospitals are hiring yoga practitioners for their staff, and many, or dare I say most people do not fully understand what they are doing or why.
A little over a year ago I felt led to further my yoga training for my yoga-based business and enrolled in a 200 hour Yoga Training. I made it two days, with a LOT of prayer, as it was so obvious how different what I practice is from the traditional yoga beliefs and practices. We studied a lot of Yoga history and foundations I hadn't learned in my previous studies. I knew God had opened the door and led me into the training, but I felt a complete absence of God in that space, it was unexpected and pretty scary.
Don't get me wrong, the leaders and students were very kind, warm, loving souls with the best of intentions, but I felt an overwhelming, extremely apparent separation from my God in that space and in the practices. After 2 days of attending the 200-hour training, I dropped from the program. I believe God led me into that experience to teach me. My innocence to the dangers of yoga was made obvious and I felt, and continue to feel, God is asking me to step out of my comfort zone to educate others as well. NOT in a condemning or authoritative way, but only as a form of awareness for Christians who may be conflicted or confused. I want to help educate people on what the practices often used in yoga classes are, what the meanings are behind them and what pieces of 'yoga' I believe to be truly redeemable and from God, and what are not.
This experience also completely changed my perspective around the practice of yoga inside Faith Fueled Fitness. I believe the timing of this was impeccable and God led. It helped reshape the vision of Faith Fueled Fitness to be more about the freedom in fitness centered around Christ and less about using Yoga as a mission field opportunity. Partnering with Sarah who offers personalized strength training and nutrition coaching allows us to offer a well rounded physical approach, with Christ at the center, and I believe can truly change lives. The key pieces of yoga- stretching/breathing/meditation I still offer and believe to be truly good for our bodies and souls, I just have a majorly different spiritual focus.
Ok, down to the nitty gritty. I believe it is imperative that Christians truly understand what Yoga is and isn't. That they take the time to educate themselves and be aware of what they are practicing or not practicing, for their own spiritual safety. I am speaking to Christians, followers of Christ and the bible. Here are my findings.
Yoga is a practice mostly of mindfulness derived over 2,000 years ago. It has been adopted by, used and dissected into many religious practices around the world. No one knows the exact origin of yoga. We do know that what we call yoga today has evolved over thousands of years and has been introduced and developed independently in many different cultures around the world.