Evangelicals Try Yoga with a Twist

April 6, 2011 by  
Filed under Yoga

Christians stand on mats at a church hall, stretching their arms to the heavens and bending to their toes. They lay their palms on the floor, the soles of their feet perfectly flat. Chants spill from a stereo.

It looks as though the group is doing a yoga pose called Downward Dog – but it isn’t. Group members, who meet weekly in Roanoke, bend into postures they call the Tallit, not the Big Toe, and the Dove, not the Pigeon.


They are participating in a program called PraiseMoves, not yoga.

The name changes are a subtle indicator of the sometimes tenuous relationship between the Eastern discipline of yoga and Western religions. While many Christians have practiced yoga for years, some Christian leaders have denounced it as pagan and demonic.

“Everybody has their own path that they have in terms of their spiritual journey, and my point of view is that I would want everybody’s path to eventually merge into the Christian path,” said Nancy Harvey, who leads the PraiseMoves group at Huntington Court United Methodist Church in Roanoke. “But it’s not my judgment to make one way or the other.”

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