Thursday, December 8, 2011

Can You Practice Yoga AND Love Jesus?

It really depends on who you ask. In my opinion, as a person who practices yoga on a regular basis, the answer is yes. 

While I do not define myself as belonging to any one religion, but rather as a "spiritual" being having a human experience, I think that there is much to learn from many of the world's great religions, spiritual beliefs, practices, and cultures. While I do believe in and love Jesus, I also believe in, love, and respect other great ascended masters, such as the Buddha. 

If you are strong in who you are and what you believe, your faith, principles, and values will not be shaken no matter what other cultures or experiences you choose to investigate or participate in. Yoga is an individual journey - a very personal experience.

Sure, you experience the benefit of congregating with other beings who may be coming to class for a myriad of reasons (physical, emotional, spiritual, or a combination of these), but when you are on the mat, going through the asanas and movements and laying down to rest in savasana, that's all you. That's you and your connection to your higher power, if you have one that you identify with. That is your own personal story and experience. 

Some folks have asked me about the chanting that some teachers include in their yoga classes (I've experienced this especially in Kripalu and Hatha Flow classes). They say it makes them feel uncomfortable because they don't understand to whom or why they are chanting, and some feel that doing so may be in conflict with their own personal spiritual beliefs.

Photo Courtesy of ChristianYogaMagazine
One of my teachers put it this way, "We are about to chant, and you are welcome to accept the invitation...or not." 

Yoga is an ancient practice that is thousands of years old and is most often traced back to Hindu origin. While you may not identify with this or even wish to, perhaps you can stand in awe of how many people have been helped by the practice over time. 

If, for any reason, chanting makes you feel uncomfortable, don't force yourself to do it or allow it to be a stumbling block to your practice. Simply sit still, meditate, and pray...practices that are encouraged by most positive world religions.

From the Christian bible:
"Be still and know that I am God." (Psalms 46:10) 


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