What is Christ Centered Yoga?
Simply defined, Christ Centered Yoga is a practice with a very clear and positive intention. The Christian practitioner focuses on deepening their relationship with Jesus Christ through their own embodied being. Through Jesus, God came to us in a human body; taking on our experiences of love and suffering.
Jesus modeled for us a different way to live in the world; the way of love, compassion, forgiveness, faith, hope and peace. The Gospel stories illustrate that the mission of Jesus was clearly delineated through the body. When people called out “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me,” Jesus demonstrated compassion and forgiveness through a physical healing. The body serves as the physical manifestation of spiritual well-being.
The human body is a temple as Saint Paul so beautifully states in 1Cor 6:19 “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?”. Through our bodies we become vessels for all the virtues Jesus modeled. Asana (yoga postures) teaches each person about his/her nature. Learning to focus on movement coordinated with breath, practitioners become aware of resistance, the tendency to force a pose, or impatience with personal progress. Physical practice teaches patience, compassion, and perseverance with one’s self.
Understanding the need for self-care and gentleness extends to others in our world. Through this self awareness and the quieting of body and mind, our postures become prayers.
Silencing the cacophony of random thinking through breath practice creates space for nurturing communion with the divine. Scripture tells us that God is not heard in the thunder or the wind, but rather in the whisper of a gentle breeze. Christ centered yoga uses the age old techniques of breath, movement, and meditation to support the stillness necessary to hear and discern God’s word in our lives. The only possible response for a Christian practicing yoga is to be drawn more deeply to the love that already exists in his/her own heart.
Although yoga is infused with India’s great religious-cultural traditions, Christians draw upon the possibility that we can go beyond our present understanding of the world, and more significantly, beyond our current egocentric state of being. God does not separate God’s children into categories, but rather embraces the giftedness of all.
Christians, as well as anyone else practicing yoga, should take what makes sense to them and deepens their own faith and spiritual commitment.