Thursday, January 24, 2013

About Yoga: I promise you're not being indoctrinated

Yesterday was Wednesday, which is a yoga day for me. At the end of your practice, it's customary for everyone to sit with their legs crossed over each other and put their hands together at their "heart center" (middle of the chest). Then the instructor will say something like, "That which is in me recognizes that which is in you", and lead everyone in bowing and saying the salutation "Namaste" (which is basically what that phrase means). Except the guy next to me yesterday, instead of saying "Namaste", said "Amen". Which had me thinking, Hmm, what's that about?

My new best friend!
I can understand that Christians may be wary of practicing yoga because it originated in the Indian subcontinent and is infused with Hindu and Buddhist thought, language, and tradition. And as anyone familiar with certain American Christians can attest, they can be fiercely defiant against being indoctrinated or having their beliefs challenged. Yes, yoga can be used to practice those "other" faiths. But the way I see it, yoga can be incorporated into the practice of any faith. Why? Because it's about self-love, being aware of your body and your surroundings, not judging yourself, focusing your mind, being calm, finding your depth, and releasing yourself from attachment (especially to outcome and negative thoughts). All of which, more are less, are expressed in the doctrine of many religions, Christianity included.

Personally I see my yoga practice as a way to get closer to God. Never in my life have I appreciated myself and my body more. You learn so much about your body, what it can do, how strong you really are, the power your mind has. And isn't all that what the Lord wants us to understand about ourselves as individuals? Maybe that guy wasn't trying to ward off indoctrination. Maybe, like me, he recognizes that yoga brings him closer to God, and he just just preferred to express that directly by saying "Amen". Either way, I just wanted to make clear that yoga is such a blessing. And God will not judge you if you say "Namaste". He hears, understands, and appreciates Sanskrit words too.

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