Well, I'm not exactly sure where to start, but here we go!
If I told you my yoga practice led me towards a conversion, Orthodox Christianity to be exact, what would you think?
That is exactly what happened. My family and I were received into the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church on January 6th 2015, the Feast of Theophany.
Since its January, I see A LOT of people on Facebook making new goals for their fitness and well being, along with FB articles for or against certain dietary and fitness fads. My mom recently shared with me that her FB "friends" have been posting articles stating Christians should not do yoga. It's interesting to me when I hear that, having taught flow based yoga since 2009, I always wonder if the authors have had any first hand experience at a local gym or studio?
(Now don't get me wrong.. you have extremists in anything and everything.
For instance, I do love coconut oil, but OMG, apparently its going to save the world!)
At your neighborhood facility, a yoga class will mostly consist of flowing, detoxifying, strengthening, and balancing postures, with cued breathing. There may be dim lighting, candlelight or incense, and an OM or two, but that is pretty much it. Yoga really is awesome, and scientifically does so much for the body as well as the mind.
And.. ( hint hint) if you take my class the atmosphere will include a killer Spotify playlist and a neck massage. Its almost like a grown up gymnastics routine with some deep relaxation at the end.
This post is not to argue my mom's "friend's" FB articles at all, however if you would like to know more on the subject, click here. Yoga is not a religion, its a philosophy. For the committed, it is a way of life, and that is what I want to touch on. Because of yoga, I am now an Orthodox Christian.
I was searching for the sacred, that I just didn't find, in my on again off again non denominational place of worship. I was searching for a transformed community that lived the teachings of Jesus Christ. I was looking for the body of Christ that lived out the greatest commandment, LOVE.
1 Corinthians 13:4-7 New International Version (NIV)4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
You see, I actually have seen elements of this transformation in my yoga community. I've seen broken humans come regularly to a class, starting out stiff in body and mind. Over time, and with intention, they become more mindful about their choices and actions on and off the mat. Those changes follow them, and bring change in their life outside of the studio as well. Part of practicing yoga is practicing non attachment and non judgement. This is not easy for anybody, and practice leads to getting better over time. I would see students day in and day out, and could not deny the transformation taking place. I told my husband Josh, if Christians (especially us) would practice and really live out the fullness of the faith, the way these students practice yoga, this world would change. The teachings of Jesus Christ are of love, mercy, self sacrifice, healing and restoration. We call ourselves Christians, but most of what I could see in myself, my community and mainstream media, was full of judgement and very self serving.
Lord have mercy!
Before giving up all together, I considered going to a Catholic church. I knew it was pretty old, lol! (so much for my knowledge of church history) I asked my husband if we could go check it out, saying they must do those "things" for a reason. What I know now, those "things" holy tradition, pious practice, and most importantly partaking in the sacraments was the "life" I was looking for.
Shortly after this conversation I was on a plane out west for a visit with my sister, brother in law, and nephew. My brother in law Maximus, introverted, academic, and articulate, had been on a path that dug up church history bones a few years prior. At the time, he had been a catechumen in the Orthodox church for awhile. After 3 evenings of long conversations, probing questions, and a James & Ginger or two, it was as if a veil had been lifted from over my eyes. Something happened to me.
My brother in law took me back further then the reformation, further then the great shism of 1054 AD, to an even more ancient faith, the actual church established by Jesus Christ and his apostles.
Yes, it does still exist, and has remained unchanged for over 2000 years.
There is so much to write about. I want to tell you what happened when I told Josh, the first time we went to liturgy as a family, and how because of yoga, I totally "got" it.
However.. I think this is a good place to start, and that is why its Part 1.
Orthodox Christianity has been changing and transforming my life since November of 2013.
Depending on your back ground, you probably have many questions that just wont be answered in this post. Here are a couple of links I found helpful.