What is yoga?
Like meditation, Yoga is a spiritual discipline. Yoga combines three practices: breathing exercises, meditation/contemplation, and physical postures. Yoga originally began with more emphasis on meditation and less emphasis on postures. The practice of yoga dates as far back as 5000 BC. It predates Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism, but it has been adopted by all of these religions. Like other spiritual disciplines (i.e. prayer, fasting, etc.), it can be used in any religious context, and does not belong to any one religion. Hatha yoga, which are the postures, can be removed from a religious context altogether and be used solely as a form of exercise. In fact, that often happens in cases where organizations are trying to appeal to a large, general demographic, like gyms and fitness clubs.
What is Christian yoga?
Christian yoga takes the breathing exercises, meditation and physical postures, and adds in Jesus Christ. The Bible is read throughout, personal witness is given and Christian or instrumental music is played. Christian yoga begins in prayer, and its aim is the worship of and contemplation of the Triune God. There is nothing about it that diverts in any direction away from Christian doctrine or devotion. It is instead a unique way to "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength" Mark 12:30.
Today Health recently printed an article about Christian Yoga, "Christina Yoga, Trading 'om' for 'amen': http://todayhealth.today.msnbc.msn.com/
Why is Christian yoga objected to by some people?
From the yoga camp:
Although yoga predates the religions which have adopted it by at least 1500 years, nevertheless practitioners of those religions will sometimes object to it being adopted by Christianity. This is understandable, since it has been part of their religious tradition for as much as 3,000 years! In some cases, this can lead to feelings of their faith being trampled upon by ours, whether or not they are aware that yoga is something that predates them. But this is not a universal reaction. In most cases, people are more open-hearted about it, and indeed, yoga has often been called, "India's gift to the world." BKS Iyengar, the founder of the Iyengar yoga school, stated in his book,Yoga: The Path to Holistic Health, "Yoga is for everyone."
From the Christian camp:
In a lot of cases, fear and ignorance lead people to reject yoga. Because yoga is practiced by other religions as a spiritual discipline, it can sometimes be misunderstood to be a religion in itself. Yoga is as neutral as meditation, prayer or fasting - three other disciplines practiced across many religions - and can be applied as easily in a Christian context. But, thankfully, as the years pass and it becomes more clear that Christians who practice yoga are not harmed by it, this fear is dissipating. It also helps that doctors and other authorities are now recommending yoga for its health benefits to their patients. This has added substantially to its acceptance in the West.
It is true that in rare cases, when you enter a non-Christian yoga class, you may encounter philosophies that disagree with Christianity. This is because of the history and traditions being passed down by that particular teacher or studio. It may surprise you to know that the teachings can vary substantially from studio to studio, or sometimes from teacher to teacher within the same studio! But with Christian yoga, there is no room for anti-Christian thought. If you enter a Holy Yoga class, you enter a class led by Jesus and for Jesus. Brooke Boon, founder of Holy Yoga, summarizes it well:
The bottom line is that we can debate all day long about yoga's roots, its history, and all the other ways that the world uses it. But the conversation would be irrelevant because in Holy Yoga, our entire intent and focus are completely on Jesus Christ. There is simply no room in our practice for anything else. (Holy Yoga: Exercise for the Christian Body and Soul)
Many of the instructors at Fitness And Faith NW have attended non-Christian yoga classes at many studios of differing schools of thought. We rarely encountered teachings against our Christian beliefs, but if we did, we ignored them, and instead lifted up our practice as a gift to our Savior.
Since discovering Christian yoga, we have been using our yoga as a prayer to our Lord. Yoga can be a way to contemplate God and abide in his Spirit. With yoga, Jesus guides us towards physical health and wholeness. Our bodies are the temple of his Spirit, and our souls longs to be still and know Him. In both ways, Jesus uses spiritual discipline of yoga to heal, strengthen and mature us.
What is Suggested Donation?
Some of our Holy Yoga and Revelation Fitness Classes have suggested donation as the class fee, typically $5-$7 per class;
"Suggested donation" essentially means that you will not be turned away for lack of financial support. Though we ask that you keep in mind that there are costs associated with providing these types of services to the community. Countless hours are spent, planning, praying, studying, researching and scheduling. Continuing education, licensing, insurance and re-certification are a few things that are required annually, allowing us to offer these services. So we ask you donate what it is worth to you and what is available in your budget any given day.
Other classes do have a fixed fee associated with them. The fixed fee is determined by the church or studio in which the class is held. If you have any questions about whether a certain class has a suggested donation or a fixed fee, please ask the instructor. Thanks.
What does it mean to use a chair during low impact class?
A chair is there for each person to hold onto if you need to steady yourself. Some exercises are done holding onto the back, front or side of the chair. Some are also done while sitting on the chair. Most exercises are done standing unless you need to sit. It is best to ask questions and definitely tell the instructor if an exercise causes pain. ie; squats hurt my knees. The instructor will give you a variation of the exercise so no pain is caused.