Thursday, October 7, 2010

Yoga and Christianity... Can They Coexixt?

A recent blog post by Southern Baptist Leader Albert Mohler has created a bit of a firestorm about yoga and Christianity. I don't fancy myself an expert on either topic, but I am a Christian and I do yoga so I definitely needed to investigate. Here is a link to the Mohler blog.

Apparently, the yoga I've been taking isn't as intense as some of what he read in Stephanie Syman's book. We talk about chi, we meditate, we reflect, we stretch, we relax. We don't chant or discuss Eastern religious philosophies. Bottom line is it never occurred to me that there was a religious agenda behind my yoga practices. I understand that yoga may have started with roots in India and Hinduism, but are we so closed minded to thing cultural practices can't evolve? Personally, I find that I think about God and my relationship with Christ quite often during a yoga class. It isn't part of the class, not the teachers doing, it is something I choose to do when I want to do it, and I like it.

Now, in full disclosure, I'm not a theologian. My basic religious philosophy centers on my personal relationship with God. I don't read the Bible as much as I should, I go to church probably about half the Sundays. I feel very comfortable about my relationship with Christ, I pray and reflect on the type of life I'm leading. I often take issue with organized religion for several reasons.

I do not like when religions are not accepting and judgmental of teachings that don't fall in lock step with their own. There is so much we don't know about God, how can we possibly make judgments on God's behalf? God's Grace is a wonderful thing.

I do not like preaching of intolerance. We do not all have to be the same to be saved by Christ. Are Catholics any better than Baptists, or Methodists or a little non denominational church in the middle of nowhere?

I do not like preaching of rules and practices that are simply not supported by scripture. (I struggle to support this last argument based on my own weak knowledge of the bible) I feel like the Catholics have made up some unique rules. Some denominations thinking drinking is the Devil's work. Jesus' first miracle was turning water to wine, that is good enough for me.

There seems to be this notion with some people that God doesn't want us to have any fun. To me Yoga, in addition to making me feel healthier, more relaxed, more at peace with myself, is fun. If you can go to a yoga class and represent Christ in your words and actions is that not being a good disciple? As Christians should we avoid all situations that are not filled with other Christians? That seems counterproductive to spreading the good news.

I say relax (which ironically yoga will help you do) and have some fun. Life and religion have plenty of gray areas; try and make them black and white and you'll go crazy. I can't help but think that when Jesus isn't crying over Jersey Shore, he's laughing at us. Leaders like Mohler think they have it all figured out. I know we are all in for a lot of surprises when that final day comes, until then I'll relax and chat with God every Monday night at 7:30. Namaste.

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