I first heard about Holy Yoga while googling “Christian Yoga” during my Yoga Teacher Training where we were required to write a book report or essay about a personal experience. I purchased the book, and immediately dove into it, highlighting, posting and sharing so many things that I was learning throughout my studies. One of my favorite quotes from the book:
“No single religion or cult can claim to 'own' the ways we move our bodies and use them to worship our God. The postures of yoga may have been co-opted by a religion but they can not 'belong' to that religion any more than prayer can belong only to a single religion...
The body is of God. Prayer is of God. Scripture is of God."
So, when I learned that the Holy Yoga Experience was being offered at a church down the street from me, I immediately signed up! I was so excited, and told all my students about my upcoming Holy Yoga seminar… and I was not disappointed.
I pulled up to the beautiful Park Cities Baptist Church, parked, grabbed all my things, and headed in. I was greeted warmly by not only the hosts, but the other attendees as well. When in different settings, I like to pay attention to the people dynamic, and level of diversity. I noticed that I was one of about three African American women in a pool of about 150 other people, mostly women. I had learned from an early age from my parents that not all my friends, and/or associates needed to look like me. You can learn a lot, sometimes if not more, from people who differ from yourself whether it be race, ethnic background, religion, or even political view.
I walked in, and noticed some openings towards the front, and plopped my mat, blocks, and towel down and sat ready to begin. I purposefully did not open my phone to better observe my surroundings. The lady next me introduced herself, and told me she was from a neighboring city. I learned that many of the attendees had driven miles to attend today’s session, while I had driven 10 min down the street after hearing about the event only a couple of days prior.
The host welcomed us, and spoke a little about Holy Yoga, its co-founder Brooke Boon, and the fact that the same experience was happening at that moment within 12 other cities!
When we initially walked in, they handed us pods that had hearts on one side. They asked that we placed our pods hearts up if we wanted to be adjusted during the practice, or hearts down if we preferred not to be touched. That was a wonderful idea! I have been in numerous yoga classes as a student, where students would yell at instructors because they simply did not want to be touched. Personal space can be very sacred to people during their practice.
We began with a mudra which set the intention for our practice. The instructor started,
“Our thumb represents God’s will. Our index finger represents our will. When we put our will with God’s will, everything else (all other fingers) falls away.”
We started by gently warming up our legs, ankles, spine, and shoulders, slowly making our way into downward facing dog, after which she cued our first sun-salutation. My heart immediately jumped for joy, as I had spoken with many Christian yogis who were vehemently against sun salutations as they believed it represented the praising of false gods, as many ancient religions believed that they, themselves, could raise the sun/moon by means of song and dance. In my personal practice, I KNOW that I do not have the power to raise the sun or moon, and so as a Christian, my interpretation of a sun salutation is that it is a simple flow of poses, awakening the body, where we salute the sun and/or moon and acknowledge them as beautiful, and magnificent creations, that were shaped and formed by the Almighty Creator. Throughout the flow, she used verbiage such as energy, primary lines of energy and vibes, all of which I personally love to hear and use during my practice. In between salutations, she would bring us into childs pose where she read a beautiful story about saving grace that brought peaceful imagery into my practice. We made it to savasana where soft music played, and the instructor prayed over us.
After the practice, they played a recording of Brooke Boon who provided a short sermon and bible study. Here are a few points that deeply spoke to me:
Your vibe attracts your tribe. We bring the vibration of God with us as we obey His word by preaching the gospel to the ends of the earth, being transformed into His likeness.
Genesis 3 is where the “interruption” takes place. The lower vibration of darkness was intercepted by the higher vibration of light.
Yoga is just a discipline to be transformed into His likeness. We practice discipline by followings Christ’s commandment to “Come. Follow Me.” because if you are where God is, that is where the blessing is.
When you are obedient to His calling, and start living by the gospel, you are able to live a high-vibe life
We believe in yoga, and make no apologies, and no longer entertain the conversation surrounding yoga as being a satanic practice, as everything that is consecrated by God is Holy (1 Timothy 4:4-5)
The last bullet is the one that spoke to me the loudest. I always find myself defending, explaining, or justifying why my practice is not “satanic” or “rooted in false gods”. Hearing Brooke helped me to let go (surrender to God) what others’ think, how they perceive, or their opinions of me in all aspects of my life. I know why I practice, and I know that I am fully rooted, and steeped in Christ Jesus. What better way to praise him, and display gratefulness for my body than by maintaining my temple and improving my physical, mental, and spiritual being through the means of yoga? My body is a vessel where my soul resides, and in order for me to fulfill my purpose on this earth, I require my physical body, because “to be absent from the body, is to be present with the Lord” (2 Corinthians 5:8). Every morning that I wake up in my physical body, I am reminded that I am here to fulfill His purpose, and the fact that I wake up means...
I am not done.
We ended the session in praise and worship, and a group activity where we wrote down a word describing something that we were leaving on the mat that day.
My word was “doubt” – I will no longer doubt myself. I believe in myself, knowing that I am grounded in a Source greater than myself. My daily yoga practice reminds me of this. Whenever I am in a pose that I believe I do not have the strength to accomplish, I push past the doubt, ground myself, and surrender into the pose.
Know that God will never put you in a position (physical, mental, or spiritual) where he has not already called you.
I met some wonderful people that day, exchanged information, and plan to attend other classes taught by other local Holy Yoga Instructors. It was a wonderful experience that set my spirit at peace.