Yoga + Christianity: Preface

 I found yoga through heartbreak.

The first time happened in college when I was dumped a week before my birthday by a boy I thought I loved. Every day that summer I walked down the hill from my house to the yoga studio and sweat and cried and let myself be loved back to wholeness by a God I’d distanced myself from.

Yoga and I reconnected again a few years later, this time over a heart broken by disappointment and a deep feeling of failure when the career path I’d chosen was making me miserable. I faithfully went to church, read all the books, and filled journals with my longing cry for God to open a new career door, and tell me who I was and what I was meant to do with my life. All I heard was a lot of silence.

That is, until I hit my yoga mat.

I say this a lot but it’s profoundly true (and what makes yoga such a body+heart+soul practice): there’s something so powerful about moving your body and focusing your attention on just being present. I’d settle into Savasana and the tears would start flowing, down my temples, pooling in my ears, and dripping onto my yoga mat, and God would say so clearly, “I am so proud of you. Do you have any idea how much I love you? Do you have any idea how much I care for you?”

I always wondered – how could I hear God so powerfully and intimately in a yoga studio playing rap music with statues of Ganesh everywhere and an instructor who chanted things in a different language?

The answer: God had to be bigger than all of it.

Yoga helped me – the queen of multi-tasking, overachieving, obsessing about what others think of me, always thinking 10 steps ahead – to channel all of that anxious energy through stretching, twisting, balancing, and bending my body with great intentionality. Through all that movement, and the constant reminder to pay attention, I found a sense of PRESENCE I was never able to tap into before. And it’s in that PRESENCE that Spirit lives, connecting our hearts to God, whispering to us what God is up to in this world, reminding us what it means to be a Child and Friend of God, nudging us toward that next right step.

To me, yoga looks like moving through a series of poses and spending some minutes in quiet meditation with the aim of surrendering the heavy burdens I’ve been carrying, noticing the drumbeat of Love echoing around me, and giving thanks with every cell in my being to the God who is worthy of it all.

I practice yoga with the intention of connecting with and worshipping God. 

If you’d like to read about what other Jesus-followers love about practicing yoga, check out the incredible comments on this post:

These stories exemplify Jesus' words in Luke 6:44:  "Every tree is known by its fruit." 

“That’s nice, Caroline, but what about the Ganesh statues and chanting? Should Christians still participate in yoga even though it has roots in Hindu spiritual culture”

I’m so glad you asked.

I wrote about the spiritual foundation for practicing yoga as a Jesus-follower here.

 P.s. Here’s an ever-growing list of the books I read that informed these posts and are ones I highly recommend for further reading.