How Alabama Christians are Using Yoga to Connect with God
Yoga is not restricted to Hinduism. In Alabama, Yoga takes a Christian flavor as a pathway to becoming closer with God.
While yoga has traditionally been a Hindu practice, in Alabama it is gaining popularity among Christians as a way to connect more closely with God. Groups like Outstretched are cropping up throughout the state to provide Christians with a form of Christ-centered meditation designed to help deepen their relationship with Him.
The consensus among practitioners of this type of Christian-based yoga is that God appreciates their efforts to connect more deeply with Him through a yoga-based, Christian-prayer oriented path of physical and spiritual health.
There are questions, though, as to whether yoga can truly be adapted to Christian needs. While Christian-based yoga is focused on improving spiritual and physical health, it is also said to help quiet the mind, allowing the essential voice of God to be heard.
Practitioners like Lori Smith begin their yoga classes with a prayer, often continuing to offer prayers and encouragement throughout the classes and believe that prayer can take three basic forms, including talking to God, listening for the voice of God and just having fellowship with other Christians. Her sessions, typically 90 minutes in length, end with contemplative prayer; moments of quiet are sprinkled throughout the session.
The questions raised by doubtful Christians are good ones. Is it appropriate for Christians to use yoga poses, which may have been developed as prayerful stances meant to please Hindu gods, and pray to God at the same time?
People who practice Christian yoga, like Lori Smith, say that the two practices, yoga and praising God, are not mutually exclusive. Smith says she believes that God was waiting for her to open her heart to him fully, and yoga helped her do that.
Many individuals believe that yoga can be a pathway to becoming closer with God.