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Dear Fellow Seeker,


Some people think Christian yoga makes about as much sense as Jewish chemistry... or Islamic mathematics. It’s a fundamental category error, they say. Yoga, at least as practiced in the west, is a system of physical and mental exercises that has nothing to do with Christianity. Go to church. And go to yoga class if you must. But certainly don’t mix the two up.


But we disagree. Christians who practice yoga – or the other Eastern spiritual body-mind disciplines of mindfulness, meditation, Tai Chi, and so on – bring with them the unique philosophical outlook and habits of mind that come with Christianity. While they explore what the Eastern practices have to offer them, they do so on their own terms, with their own perspectives. If, in the process of practicing these Eastern disciplines, they make modifications to accommodate their spiritual beliefs, so what? Isn’t that their right?


The unique Christian understanding of incarnation actually brings a depth and a pathos to yoga practice that enriches it.


Unlike traditional yoga and Indian philosophy generally, Christians don’t believe that human beings “cast off” their bodies like so many worn-out clothes at death – only to take on new ones in a reincarnated existence. Rather, Christians have this strange, rather radical, certainly unusual belief that we actually are our bodies – and that God will miraculously preserve and render them immortal and luminescent in a resurrected state. Thus, the yoga emphasis on bodily care, awareness and health is thus completely harmonious with the Christian understanding of our bodies as temples of the Holy Spirit. This is what the founder of Christian yoga – Père J.-M. Déchanet – was getting at when he tried to adapt the spiritual psychology of William of Saint-Thierry to a fairly traditional hatha yoga practice.


Like many Christians who practice yoga, we are hardly purists. You could even call us “cafeteria yogis.” We pick and choose among the various yoga practices that fit our overall lifestyle, level of fitness and religious beliefs. Fortunately, at every single yoga school where we have studied, without exception, the other students are exactly the same.


We are typical urban and suburban professional types: harried moms, latte-swilling office workers, students, retired folk. The music is funky New Age chanting music, which, quite frankly, we find very relaxing and enjoy immensely. The teachers do sometimes say “Namaste” after class — which, despite all the hullabaloo among fundamentalists about its alleged polytheistic meanings, is just the ordinary Hindi way of saying “hello.” But beyond that, the average yoga class is about as pagan as an aerobics class down at the YMCA.


Yoga also quiets us down, physically and mentally, and harmonizes very well with a need for a contemplative practice. For Christians who find little time for prayer and contemplation in the hectic modern world, regular yoga practices literally forces them to quiet down. It relaxes you unlike anything else — and then quiets your mind.


Yoga (or Buddhist) meditation is not the same thing as Christian or Jewish prayer, but they can be a necessary preparation for prayer — even a prerequisite. Without the quiet, stillness and relaxation that yoga provides, many people find it almost impossible to pray. But Christian yogis, blessed with such islands of silence and stillness, inevitably find themselves spontaneously giving thanks and lifting their minds and hearts to God.


So, the bottom line is this: If you’ve been thinking about trying out yoga but are concerned about the alleged “spiritual dangers,” forget about it. The people who prattle on about that have rarely stepped inside a yoga studio in their lives. What you’ll find is probably people exactly like yourself — stiff, overworked, semi-arthritic, stressed-out modern men and women — who are trying to ease the kinks out of their tired bodies and souls. And that is a good thing.


This website is dedicated to tracking these strange developments. Feel free to browse the links on this site for more information about Christian Yoga and other eastern contemplative disciplines, or sign up to receive email updates on a weekly basis. (We also publish a quarterly newsletter that you can subscribe to by clicking on the link nearby.)


Among the topics we cover, you'll discover...


* Why an interest in yoga and other Eastern disciplines does not conflict with Christian faith and ideals...
* Interviews with top Christian yoga teachers and practitioners...
* The origins of Christian yoga among the desert Fathers...
* What Christians are to make of the more esoteric practices and ideas of yoga, such as chakras and kundalini...
* How yoga, Zen and other Eastern approaches can help you simplify your life and life more fully...
* Why Christian Yoga is not the same thing as the New Age...
* Rediscovering the Christian mystical tradition...
* And lots MORE...
 

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Christian Yoga Articles

Take Your Practice Out of Your Comfort Zone This Summer Take Your Practice Out of Your Comfort Zone This Summer

Summer. It’s that time of year when rules and dress codes relax. Even decades beyond school age, we feel as though the disciplinarians that normally keep us in line are looking the other way for a few months. As adults, we are often kept on that well-worn, responsible path by our own inner voice—its timbre a collection of tones and inflections collected over our lifetime. Some kind and loving. Some not so much. This season offers you the opportunity... [Read more of this post]

Tao Te Ching: A Christian’s Perspective Tao Te Ching: A Christian’s Perspective

“Heaven will last, Earth will endure. How can they last so long? They don’t exist for themselves And so can go on and on. So wise souls Leaving self behind Move forward, And setting self aside Stay centered. Why let the self go? To keep what the soul needs.” Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching, #7, “Dim Brightness” Reading Lao Tzu reminded me of my experience of the Spirit in meditation. While abiding in the Spirit, peace and stillness... [Read more of this post]

The Vocation of Christian Yoga The Vocation of Christian Yoga

Some people think Christian yoga makes about as much sense as Jewish chemistry… or Islamic mathematics. It’s a fundamental category error. Yoga, at least as practiced in the west, is a system of physical and mental exercises that has nothing to do with Christianity, these critics say. Go to church. And go to yoga class if you must. But certainly don’t mix the two up. But I disagree. Christians who practice yoga – or the other Eastern spiritual... [Read more of this post]

Memento, homo, quia pulvis es Memento, homo, quia pulvis es

Remember, Man, that you are dust… and unto dust you shall return. (Gen 3: 19) Today is Ash Wednesday, the start of the penitential season of Lent, when Catholics and many other Christians as well go to church to receive ashes on their foreheads. Traditionally, when the priest or minister placed ashes on your forehead, he or she murmured the phrase, taken from Genesis: Remember that you are dust and unto dust you shall return. These are the... [Read more of this post]

Sede vacante Sede vacante

Under the high altar in St. Peter’s basilica in Rome is another altar… and underneath that altar is another altar… and underneath that altar is a giant box about fifteen feet square, made out of the precious stone porphyry, and inside of that box is an ancient brick wall that dates back to the first century A.D., and in the side on that ancient brick wall is a burial niche, and inside that niche was found, wrapped in purple cloth reserved... [Read more of this post]

The Remarkable Story of James & Tyra Arraj The Remarkable Story of James & Tyra Arraj

I just heard , quite late, that James Arraj died of cancer three years ago. To say I was stunned is an understatement. I had sent an email to Jim, asking for permission to reprint one or two of his marvelous essays, and his widow, Tyra, told me of his death. Although I never met them, the Arraj family has been an inspiration to me and many other people over the years for so many different reasons. Decades ago, James and Tyra made a remarkably courageous... [Read more of this post]

Health Benefits of Yoga Convincing Skeptics in Many Churches Health Benefits of Yoga Convincing Skeptics in Many Churches

Like many Christians who practice yoga, I am hardly a purist. You could even call me a “cafeteria yogi.” I pick and choose among the various yoga practices that fit my overall lifestyle, level of fitness and religious beliefs. Fortunately, at every single yoga school where I have studied, without exception, the other students are exactly the same. They are typical Canadian and American suburban professional types: harried moms, latte-swilling... [Read more of this post]

A Beginner’s Guide to Christian Yoga A Beginner’s Guide to Christian Yoga

Many people are crazy about yoga. The reason most people practice yoga is that it makes them feel better and feel more in shape. The different poses and postures make their body flexible and healthy. Yoga for most is the best natural way to relax and unwind. If you are interested in keeping your body in shape, this might be the best exercise for you. Did you know that yoga could help fight certain illness that may come your way? There has been research... [Read more of this post]

Great Web Resources for Christian Yoga Great Web Resources for Christian Yoga

1. Oustretched in Worship Offers a Christian approach to yoga throughout the state of Alabama. 2. Welcome to Scripture Yoga How could the class be Christian yoga if it wasn’t focused on God’s Word? … During the Emmaus Walk, the Christian yoga ministry was founded on the scripture: … 3. Christian Yoga? But this is not the case with so called “Christian Yoga. … CHRISTIAN YOGA (Understand the Times Radio Commentary)... [Read more of this post]

Yoga Allows Christians to Quiet Down, Prepare for Meditation Yoga Allows Christians to Quiet Down, Prepare for Meditation

By Bill Nolan Every Monday evening for the past six weeks, I have left the treasures of Western civilization and headed East. OK, so it is only two blocks from my home and only one of them is east, but go with me here. I have become a sojourner in a new time and space. I have been instructed to configure myself in ways previously thought to be impossible given my physical structure. I have begun the practice of yoga. Now let me dispel a few misconceptions:... [Read more of this post]

Jesuit Teaches Class on Patanjali’s Sutras Jesuit Teaches Class on Patanjali’s Sutras

By Francis X. Clooney, S.J. Several months ago I mentioned that I was teaching a seminar on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. This fundamental yoga text, from nearly 2000 years ago, is brief — 195 very succinct verses — but it is the reference point for all the later yoga systems. I promised to report on the results of the seminar (with ten fine students) at its conclusion (this week), and so here (and hereafter) I offer some reflections. Given... [Read more of this post]

The Origins of Christian Yoga The Origins of Christian Yoga

  By Ganga Kali Das Jaya When I was about 25 years old and I was a novice in a Franciscan monastery, we had a monk who worked very hard, slept very little and was always so busy and one day I asked him “what is the secret of your health?” “Yoga” he said “I practice Yoga”. I asked him to teach me and he lent me a book called “La Voie Du Silence” by Jean Dechanet ( a Benedictine monk) First Edition of this book, published in... [Read more of this post]

Christian Author Says Yoga Okay for Christians Christian Author Says Yoga Okay for Christians

By T.D. Jakes Webster’s defines yoga as “a Hindu theistic philosophy teaching the suppression of all activity of body, mind, and will in order that the self may realize its distinction from them and attain liberation.” Many simply define it as a system of exercises for attaining bodily or mental control and well-being. The Lighthouse Trails and Research Project, a religious watchdog organization founded in 2000 by David and Deborah Dombrowski,... [Read more of this post]

Discover the Way of Zen Discover the Way of Zen

Zen offers you a practical way to refocus your life on what matters Zen, the Japanese translation for the Chinese Chan, is a school of Mahayana Buddhism. Zen emphasizes strict, regular meditation practices and experiential wisdom — particularly as realized in the form of meditation known as zazen —in the attainment of enlightenment. It has a reputation for de-emphasizing both theoretical knowledge and the study of religious texts in favor of... [Read more of this post]

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