In my first Holy Yoga class, I expected a little Holy and a lot of yoga. Or at least that’s all I wanted since I felt like my life was falling apart (read more here). I had lost sight of God and in the chaos had let go of hope and picked up anger. My body and soul were exhausted.
I saw a flyer for a Christian Yoga retreat called Legacy of Love. (Side Note: It’s happening again this year Aug. 23-25. Registration is OPEN!) It caught my attention because I had been practicing yoga for years and thought,
“Hmm, yoga is good for my mind and body. I could use the time to get away and find some peace.”
That’s how I first grew to love yoga because it always brought me a sense of peace.
I began practicing yoga 15 years ago when I took my first yoga class as a requirement for my high school dance team. Our coach saw the value in the combination of strength and stretching but more-so, she knew high school girls could use the practice of calming and centering our minds. (It’s a battleground in adolescent brains!) And that’s what hooked me. The rhythmic breathing and moving centered my mind in a way I had never experienced.
Over the next 15 years yoga became a necessary staple in my life. A friend I took with me through every life stage. I would attend weekly yoga classes through college and during my first job in the nonprofit world. I then began early morning classes in my first years of teaching Spanish in the classroom and continued them into motherhood. Yes, 5:30 am is early, but no one else is up yet which guarantees I do at least one thing for myself before my monkeys, I mean children, get out of bed. Talk about #momwin
So when I saw the flier I thought ok, I can handle a little Holy and a lot of Yoga. Church felt hard at this point but yoga didn’t.
I was expecting a regular yoga class with some scripture and praise songs.
Yes…from the observer’s perspective this is what you see. An opening prayer, scripture reading, yoga flow and some Christian music.
However, from the yogi’s perspective, it is a much more involved internal experience.
I encountered God in a way that I never had before. Christian yoga is experiential worship that integrates heart, soul, mind and body. Your life force– breath– fuels each posture, as your heart hears God’s Truth.
With each posture, your body reflects externally what it’s doing internally. For example, prayer: I rest in child’s pose, bowed forward, palms wide open. My soul finds rest, my heart bows down and I’m open to hear His voice.
It was in child’s pose that our teacher asked, “What do you need to surrender to Jesus?” Now I’ve been asked this question before, but never as I bow down, my forehead pressed to the ground, and I hear the lyrics,
“ I need you, Oh I need you. Every hour I need you. My one defense my righteousness, Oh God How I need you.”
The tears began to stream down my face. I had just lost my father in law to cancer. My family was falling apart. I was afraid I’d lose my husband to sorrow. I needed to surrender my attempt to control the chaos and surrender to His care.
By slowing down I found God standing in the chaos, He hadn’t moved. The combination of experiential worship and meditation had prepared my heart to draw close to His.
Today’s culture drives home the importance of “doing” to earn worth, and the practice of yoga is about the becoming instead of the arriving.
Yoga calms the mind through movement and breath and in turn opens the heart.
It is with an open heart that I receive from God.
Receive His love, His comfort, His strength, His never-ending river of grace.
I had been closed off. Anger had hardened my heart. I believed the lie that this hard shell was protecting me when in fact it was suffocating my life force. The practice of Holy Yoga integrated my senses, softened my heart and brought me into the reality of His love and grace.
My expectations melted away and I was met with His reality.
I now approach Holy yoga like other spiritual disciplines. It is a tool that brings me back into His reality when I feel lost or disconnected.
Through experiential worship and meditation, Holy yoga continues to draw me into His reality, and that’s why you’ll find me practicing or leading from my mat on a weekly basis.
I’d love for you to come and join or connect with me about ways to try from home.