Yoga: An Exercise in Discernment
About 16 million adults in the United States practice yoga—an increase of 85 percent from 2004 to 2008—and the Los Angeles Times reports that both Christian and Jewish groups are incorporating the Eastern meditation practice into their respective faith tradition. Explicitly Christian yoga classes, such as Laurette Willis's PraiseMoves, seek to "transform your workout into worship!" I've practiced yoga for over six years now, but haven't sought out a Christian class, instead being content to bring my faith to the class I attend. This exercise in Christian discernment has strengthened both my body and my spirit.
I had two reservations when I began practicing yoga. One, I don't like trying new things, and the thought of contorting my not-so-flexible body in front of others made me nervous. Two, I knew that yoga had Eastern origins, and didn't want to turn exercise into an unwitting endorsement of Hinduism. But the class was free, and I wanted to be more willing to try new things, and I figured my faith could withstand one yoga class. So I went.
And I loved it. As a Christian, the spiritual aspect of yoga both attracts me and concerns me. It's easy to affirm the goodness of taking care of my body. Even though "honor God with your body" (1 Cor. 6:20) was written to address sexual morality, it extends to the care we take in other areas as well. Christian theology insists that our bodies matter. God's physical creation is a good one. In contrast to the Greek idea that the ...1