"You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our souls are restless until they rest in you," Augustine of Hippo, Confessions (c. 397)
I did hot yoga today for the first time today. It was hard, but it was wonderful. Yoga is one of my favorite things. I feel so good right now, although I know that I will be sore tomorrow.
I understand the basis of many Christians being against yoga, it being something that Hindus do to relate to their gods... but I don't think that it is contradictory to Christianity. Let me explain:
To me yoga is a time of exercise, stretching, and a time to clear my mind. As an ex-dancer, the stretching that I can get with yoga is something I miss greatly from dance classes. It is something that I yearn for.
But I also like it because it helps me to forget the craziness of my day. I have to focus on my breathing, on finding strength for the different poses, and on finding inner peace. An inner peace that is focused on loving myself and being secure of where I am in that moment. An inner peace that ultimately comes from God.
We finish off the practice with meditation.
I think it's funny that so many Christians have such an issue with meditation. In complete honesty, I don't understand. I think it's just because of the 'negative' connotation that has for many people.
Really I don't think that these things have to be separate from God though. If we believe that God is with us always, we believe that God is with us when we do yoga, when we drive our cars, and when we are in the deepest depths of life. Meditation helps me to focus on knowing God is always with me, and helps me feel closer to him and to forget about my other issues.
One of the most important things that I learn from yoga is rest. By focusing my mind, not on the things of my day, but on Christ, I am learning to rest in him. To put my hope in him. To gain my strength from him.
But rest isn't exclusively in yoga. Rest for me is found in a hike outside, in sitting outside, in drinking tea and reading a good book, in waking up peacefully when I want to, sitting in the middle of a field and thinking about God...
The concept of rest is something we often forget to do in our crazy, busy world. We focus so much on other things, that remembering to sit back, reflect, and rest in God, is something we don't do.
"Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed."- Mark 1:35
Take a few minutes to watch this video of Audrey Assad and a few band mates playing great music, and reflecting on what it means to rest, be still, and reflect on God.