Meditation is a practice where an individual trains the mind or induces a new mode of consciousness. The term meditation can refer to a broad variety of practices. They include techniques designed to promote relaxation or build internal energy or life force (“chi” in Chinese or “prana” in Sanskrit). Meditation can also be used to develop compassion, love, patience, generosity and forgiveness or other desirable qualities. The type of meditation used during yoga is often called “mindfulness.” During Christ-centered yoga, we practice Christian spiritual disciplines including meditation on the word of God from the Bible.
Yoga philosophy is ancient and fascinating. It is derived primarily from Hindu texts, such as the Bhagavad Gita and the Yoga Sutras. However, it contains elements of other philosophical traditions as well. Yoga philosophy is not the main focus of this blog. However, we will discuss some of its elements and history in relation to Christian thoughts and beliefs.
Balance Body and Mind
Many Westerners tend to deny their bodies and believe that their true self is found in their minds. This belief may be a root cause of many evils in our society. One little known benefit of practicing yoga is to find a better balance between our bodies and our minds. This body and mind balance is also known as “embodiment.” Yoga is a way of loving ourselves and our bodies. Only when we love ourselves are we able to love others well.
Benefits of Christ-centered Yoga
There are so many physical, mental and spiritual benefits of Christ-centered yoga! Read on to learn about a few of them.
Yoga’s Physical Benefits Include:
- increased flexibility
- better sense of balance
- increased muscle strength and tone
- improved respiration, energy and vitality
- maintaining good metabolism
- weight reduction or maintenance
- better cardio and circulatory health
- improved athletic performance
- protection from injury
I love the following post from John Hopkins Medicine about the physical benefits of yoga. I also like their suggestions for specific postures to try. Check it out here: https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-prevention/9-benefits-of-yoga
Yoga’s Mental Benefits Include:
- reduced stress
- more restful sleep
- increased focus and attention
- more mental clarity and calm
- increased body awareness
- better concentration
In these “pandemic times,” these mental benefits could be even more important than yoga’s physical benefits. The effects on our nervous systems are well-documented and becoming better understood every day.
Spiritual Benefits of Yoga:
Most people begin practicing yoga because they desire physical or mental benefits, but they often stay because of yoga’s spiritual aspects. Yoga is not a religion, of course. It appeals to people who practice many different religions, or no religion. However, many yoga teachings do presuppose a belief in a higher power. Practitioners may refer to this higher power in different ways. They may refer to “the universe,” “higher consciousness,” “life force,” “essence of all there is,” and so on. Yoga practitioners of all faith backgrounds often report experiencing feelings of greater wholeness. Many believe their yoga practice has led them to a better understanding of their own life’s purpose.
Spiritual Benefits of Christ-centered Yoga:
For Christians, the practice of yoga can be another way for us to meet and grow closer to God on our mats. As we focus on our breath, we can more clearly envision the power of the Holy Spirit working within us. As we gently push our bodies and increase our mental focus and attention, we can also meditate on the word of God. Then, our faith and spiritual wellness also improves! For more discussion about this, please see my post “Why Christians Should Practice Yoga” here: https://christcenteredyogareflections.com/why-christians-should-practice-yoga/
As a Christian, I feel Christ-centered yoga is especially meaningful. It provides another way to worship God through the movement of His creation, our beautiful bodies! Hopefully, this is in addition to worshiping God through prayer, singing and learning about His word from a loving church family. Whether you are a regular church-goer or not, you can benefit spiritually from Christ-centered yoga. Let me know if I can help you find a Christ-centered yoga teacher near you.