By Sangeetha Saran
For some Christians, the question of whether Yoga and its religious connections of the past can be separated, poses a stumbling block. However, the practice of Yoga training does not contradict Christian beliefs. Rather, Yoga can be used as an aid to living a more Christ-filled life.
The origins of Yoga should not be a problem for a Christian who is using the relaxation and exercise techniques to deepen his or her awareness of the Christian life. Yoga is a philosophy, and a way of life, not a religion. Yoga is a system of practices for the development of human potential and has become a valuable practice in the lives of people of all religious faiths.
Yoga can enrich the spiritual life of a Christian the same way as for a practicing Hindu or Buddhist. Yoga aids all who practice religion, by balancing the nervous system and calming the mind through its postures, breathing control, meditation, stretches and meditation. The practice of Yoga is comprehensive enough so that anyone can find techniques that will not conflict with his or her personal beliefs.
Practicing Christians should take from Yoga what makes sense to them and deepens their own faith and spiritual commitment. Today, Hatha Yoga is practiced by Christians, Jews, Buddhists, Moslems, Hindus and people of no particular religious affiliation.
Hatha yoga, originally developed to help people sit in meditation with a calmer body and a quieter, more focused mind, has all the elements of other forms of Yoga. Outside of India, the enhancement of spiritual beauty is rarely taught in Hatha Yoga training.
For a Christian, two of the biggest obstacles to prayer are a restless mind and a restless body. Yoga addresses both of these obstacles. Physiologists tell us that the most effective way to unload tensions is through contraction and relaxation of the muscles and deep breathing; these are two basic elements of Hatha Yoga.
Practicing yoga has healthful benefits for everyone. The deep breathing, stretching, and strength-training exercises are wonderfully relaxing and beneficial to spiritual and emotional health. Yoga is unequivocally good for Christians when they use the elements of yoga to improve their physical, mental and spiritual well-being.
By reducing tension and stress, Christians are able to give more time to prayer and Bible study. The meditational component of yoga can be used to meditate on biblical truths or passages, leading to peace and contentment. Yoga does not take anything away from Christians, but rather enables them to focus more deeply on their spiritual lives.
Yoga is India’s gift to the world, and it can be used selectively with benefits by people of different religious and philosophical beliefs.
© Copyright 2011 – Sangeetha Saran / Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division