I was raised Christian, and consider myself a Christian.
Early in my life, the church I was a part of split apart because of doctrinal differences.
People began threatening each other, some to the point of death. This was a catalyst for me to explore spirituality, Christianity and the meaning of life in new ways.
10 years into this search, I discovered yoga. And it has been a powerful influence in my life. Not as a religion or belief structure, but as a science to discover myself and release myself of judgments and pattens. My relationships with my Christian parents, Christian Friends and people of all religions have improved.
But ironically, I find more Christians are opposed to yoga, and immediately judge the practice and discount me because I find value in yoga. The rudest people I have encountered since becoming a yoga instructor are Christian. And it is disappointing, because I wonder how happy these individuals are, and if they are really living the principles that Christ exemplified in his life.
The idea that yoga is satanic is a judgment based in a lack of knowledge.
“Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?” ~ Matthew 7:1-3
The definition of an absence of knowledge is ignorance. I do not get angry when people separate themselves from me or judge me for a spiritual practice that has revived my love and appreciation of Christ and life. But, I have been hurt by their words, because I have a sensitive heart and soul. Normally I’m thankful that such people separate themselves from me so easily, I’d rather not deal with such poison on a regular basis, but I do become frustrated at how prevalent this attitude is within Christianity.
There is more yoga in Christianity than fundamentalism may ever wish to accept. So I challenge these Christians to practice what they bible says, and to not judge.
Christ is the Christian Guru.
“Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.” ~ Philippians 4:9
In yoga, a guru shows you the example of how to live a spiritual life. In Christianity, the true hearted Christian follows the actions of how to Love by doing what Christ did, and living the ideals that Christ embodied.
In yoga, a person practices devotion through body and breath.
“Do you not know that your body is the temple of The Spirit of Holiness who dwells within you, whom you have received from God, and you are not your own?” ~ 1 Corinthians 6:19
The purpose of this practice is to recognize and relate to the indwelling spirit.
God is Love.
“Whoever is without love does not know God, for God is love.” ~ 1 John 4:8
Love is the highest calling, love is god. Yoga communicates the exact same principle.
Follow one path.
Yoga says that to discover the truth of god and existence, you must follow one path through to completion. Christianity also makes the same claim to only follow Christ. John 14:6, Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the father except through me.”
How people communicate and relate to differences has more to do with their own internal perceptions and relationship style and spirit of love. Each path has validity for the truth seeker, and the common points between them can bolster any person of faith.
The kingdom of heaven is now.
Every Christian knows that one of the primary messages in Christianity is the kingdom of heaven. And in Luke 17:21 the bible says that “the kingdom of heaven is in your midst.” Some translations say now, and other translations say within you. This is the same exact message presented in yoga, that god and the divine relationship is now, and inherent within each human being. In fact, Patajnali’s Yoga Sutras starts with the word now for a reason, because now is when yoga unfolds. Now is the kingdom of heaven.
Peace is a central theme in both paths.
Yoga abhors violence, and non-violence is the first Yama (ethical guidance and yoga practice) communicated. There are many bible verses about peace, making it hard to choose just one. In Psalms 34:14 it says, “Turn from evil and do good ; seek peace and pursue it.”
Sound creates the universe.
According to Genesis 1:1, there was nothing, and in John 1:1, “In the beginning was the word.”
The universe was created by word, vibration, sound and light. Yoga communicates that the symbol and sound Aum is the sound of creation and life. From a yogic perspective, Aum is the word of living creation.
Meditation and prayer are essential to knowing God.
“His delight is the law of the lord, and on this law he meditates day and night.” ~ Psalms 1:2
“By meditating on the infinite, equanimity is attained.” ~ Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras 2:47
In both paths, God is the infinite mystery that creates all the universe.
Ethics are essential.
The first two limbs of classical yoga are Yamas and Niyamas. These are ethical guidelines for how to relate to people, to the world and to god. Every Christian knows that ethics and morals are the foundation for a spiritual life, and the bible is full of knowledge and wisdom in how to live these morals.
And in communicating to people who relate to god and the mystery of existence differently, strongly consider the ethics and morals and spirit of what is being communicated.
Wisdom and knowledge will find the common points and recognize the value in discourse, and do so with integrity and not harm or put down others for differences.
Just because you disagree, the spirit of how you disagree can communicate love, compassion and morals, or can be a violence that separates.
And in separation, there is no hope for common accord. Yet with an understanding spirit, integration and wisdom are always available.
To finish this article, I leave you with some comments from the Catholic Pope Francis (I am not Catholic, I just honor all faiths and find value in spiritual wisdom and love):
1) Pope proclaims all redeemed, even atheists: “The Lord has redeemed all of us, all of us, with the Blood of Christ: all of us, not just Catholics. Everyone! ‘Father, the atheists?’ Even the atheists. Everyone!”
2) Pope Francis tells atheists to abide by their own consciences: “God’s mercy has no limits.”
4) Pope Francis takes aim at ideologically obsessed Christians, even going as far as saying they have an illness:
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Editor: Rachel Nussbaum