Should Christians practice Yoga?

Should Christians practice Yoga?
Should Christians practice yoga? This is a question I  am often asked, and can even directly relate to as I was once uncertain of the relationship between Yoga and Christianity.   I refrain from associating my teaching with any doctrine as I believe what makes a practice Christian or Jewish or Hindu, is not its source, but its intent.  Christians are free to set their intention to deepen their awareness in Christ, thus making it a Christian practice.

 Yoga does not ask you to change your belief system, but to explore your thoughts and relate them to the state of your physical body.
How can a practice proven to balance the nervous system and still the mind not be of value to Christians?  It helps to create an environment with in the body ideal for meditation, introspection and prayer by helping to remove two of prayers greatest obstacles. The restless mind and the restless body. And anyone who has tried to pray know just how difficult it is to sit still much less still the restless mind, (the bad roommate I like to call it), that keeps us distracted with its constant chatter.
So here we have something that not only relieves tension and stress from your body so you an sit still AND quietly in prayer, but that can help you focus your attention on Gods presence and allow you to hold that focus for longer periods of  time.  Sounds to me like a most valuable tool for any prayer warrior.
Asana is the sanskrit word for postures and it means to be stable, still, and this is intended to include both the activities of the  mind as well as the body.  One of our greatest obstacles to prayer from personal experience is the restless mind and the fidgety body.  I have found through my practice of yoga I am able to sit calmly and quietly in prayer or meditation for longer periods of time.  This in and of itself can deepen your spiritual life regardless of affiliation to a particular doctrine.  
If you find it difficult to release tension and stress from your body so you can sit quietly in prayer while focusing all your attention on the presence of God for periods of time then I would say yoga might just be the answer.  
It is a great compliment to your spiritual practice and a prove way to let go of tension and stress from the body.  Some of the benifits of a yoga practice  for anyone practicing include
  • increased physical health and stamina
  • relaxation and calming of the central nervous system
  • recovery and improvement of injury
  • a way to express devotion and prayer through physical postures
  • an increase in the value, comfort and awareness of the body (temple)
  • an increase in the interconnectedness of all,  as we are all One Body
  • increased ability for concentration and meditation

It is as easy as setting an intention that your asana practice be an offering to God, and a practice to encounter the wisdom and omnipotence of God.  My yoga practice made me more grounded and body aware.    The more body aware I became the greater my ability to stay present and concentrate on being in the here and now.  God became less abstract and more real.

 
 The traditions of yoga are rich and full allowing for anyone to find a balance that will not conflict with personal belief.  What makes any practice Christian, is not its source, but the intent of the practitioner.   If your intent in taking on a yoga practice, running or even  kite flying is to deepen your awareness in Christ, then it is a Christian practice.  There are those who’s intent is not  to deepend their relationship with Christ while reading the New  Testament, thus it is no longer a Christian practice.  Intention is key and this opens the door to experience the benifts of  a yoga practice.  A journey of self discovery which for me turned into a journey of discovering God.
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