I had simply felt God leading me in a journey of growth that, at that time in my life, meant quitting my traditional yoga class. And I wanted to share on that, on the chance that God would use my story and my experience to help spur other's journeys of growth even unrelated to yoga.
Well, it turns out some are stuck on the yoga issue. Is it really all Hindu worship? Am I worshiping other gods if I do yoga in my home? What stretches can I do that aren't considered yoga? What else can I do to get the same stress-relieving benefits of yoga?
The best I can do at an answer: Read up on it. Pray about it. And decide for yourself. Then, don't judge others who might come up with a different conclusion than you. God is likely working on a different area of growth with them, and that's okay. And whatever you decide, don't get hung up on it. I am sure there are bigger things God wants to work out in your life.
Phew. I just needed to get that off of my chest before getting into today's post. I have been meaning to write some follow-ups to last year's story--mainly what has replaced my traditional yoga class--but didn't know where to start.
So, I figured I'd start at the heart of why I had an issue with my traditional yoga class: The meditation.
The yoga poses (stretches) themselves generally didn't stir anything inside me. They were challenging or relaxing and simply good for my body. It was the meditation, especially the guided meditation at the end of each class, that caused me to question yoga's role in my life as a Christian.
meditate : to think deeply or focus one's mind for a period of time, in silence or with the aid of chanting, for religious or spiritual purposes or as a method of relaxation.
I believe in the power of meditation for Christians--specifically meditating on God's law (Josh. 1:8) and His ways (Ps. 119:15). However, most traditional yoga classes take this necessary meditation and throw on a traditional Hindu twist. Giving imagery for our spirits and the universe and how it all plays together in a rather non-Christian-friendly way.
This was a challenge for me because I believe in Christ. I believe in one singular God as the Creator of the universe. And I believe my involvement in it is only to bring Him glory. And I believe it is my life's purpose--in work, in rest, in sickness and in health--to worship Him.
So... by quitting my traditional yoga class that led in a rather non-Christian meditation, I now try to practice Christian meditation at home. Which, let's face it, there is huge value to even if you're not into yoga or stretching.
5 Ways for Christians to Meditate
First, the question might come up: What should I be doing when I meditate?
Besides the obvious setting minds and hearts on God, what you do with your body is up to you. You can sit upright with legs crossed, lay flat on your back, kneel or bow forward, or do any combination of stretches changing positions as needed.
You can be on your bed, in your living room, or outdoors. You could have a journal and pen or a hymnal/song book open in front of you. And your Bible opened to a text you're reading through. You can even be on a park bench when the kids are playing, or at your desk when you return from lunch.
Eyes closed, hands opened with palms up and body relaxed are a good posture for relaxation. But feel free to focus gaze on a piece of nature, fold hands in prayer or lift them toward the heavens. Whatever you decide, try to settle into a deep breathing pattern--taking healing oxygen all the way through your body to your toes and exhaling it all back out. Slow and steady and consistent.
Isn't this life God breathed into humanity incredible?!
This is all about meditating on God and His Word--bringing Him actively into our lives. Setting our minds on Him as He transforms our hearts and directs our actions. Here are five ideas for doing just that...
1 // Surrender All
As you settle in and relax, there is likely to be some mental distractions going on. Past conversations, to-do lists, and so on. Mentally picture bringing these like heavy rocks and placing them one-by-one in Jesus' open, capable hands. Feeling lighter yet? Along with this, don't fight away or neglect the bad that comes to mind. Guilt, regrets, weaknesses, problems, struggles, stresses. Name them and visualize handing them over to Him. Be transformed by the renewing of your mind. (Romans 12:1-12)
2 // Count Blessings
Dwell on the good,
even especially if it's hiding behind something bad. Those challenges mentioned above? Those are where we can often find our deepest blessings. (Matthew 5:5-12) Be thankful. And receive God's weightless Truth replacing each of those burdens we once carried. Healing, isn't it?
3 // Hum a Hymn
Or hum a worship song, if you prefer. Traditional hymns tend to have a little more substance for our souls, and the tune might be easier to hum. No need to know all the words. If certain stanzas come to mind, they might be a good focus point. But it's especially the out-loud, low-tone humming vibrations that can offer physical benefits through your chest and body. It's kind of like saying "ommm" but with a deeper, spiritual benefit. (Ephesians 5:19, Colossians 3:16)
4 // Memorize Scripture
Put God's Word and truth on your mind. Do some repetitive rote memorization, focusing on the good and truth found in God's Word. (Philippians 4:8) Almost like a "chanting" that can actually transform our lives. Pause on certain words or phrases as their meaning and relevance sink in to your mind and eventually to your heart. Work on etching the whole text into your memory, until you can't help but do what it says.
5 // Go in Worship
Conclude the time acknowledging the Creator as you take this moment to be still in His presence and know that He is God. (Psalm 46:10) Then, slowly put your body back into motion and get your mind back to whatever needs your attention next, taking with you this newfound peace for your journey. Living worship in action.