The best exercise involves your mind, body, and soul. Here’s how Christian yoga combined with spiritual exercises can strengthen your relationship with both God and your body.
Holy Yoga: Exercise for the Christian Body and Soul with Brooke Boon is Christian yoga book. She sees “holy yoga” as an exercise style that Christians can use to generate patience, strength, and deeper worship. Yoga can be a physical and spiritual exercise that strengthens the body and the soul; Brooke shares her Christian yoga tips and scriptural
references to help us see that by taking care of our bodies, we can also take care of our faith.
One of my closest friends is a Christian who believes yoga is one of those harmful spiritual exercises. I love her, but I disagree. I’ve been doing yoga for 10 years, and I’ve never been closer to God than I am today. Yoga strengthens and stretches my body, which helps me serve, love, and worship God more deeply. I often encourage people to do yoga, such as in my blog post Yoga for Fertility – 5 Tips for Getting Pregnant Yogi Style. Christian yoga doesn’t guarantee a a baby, of course, but spiritual exercises might help women who are trying to conceive find more focus and faith.
If you’re struggling with the idea of Christian yoga, these tips for believers may help. I welcome your questions and comments below – I’d love to hear what you think about my combination of spiritual exercises and Christian yoga.
How Christian Yoga and Spiritual Exercises Make You Strong
Four times a week, I do yoga for strength and flexibility. I don’t do “Christian yoga” – my yoga exercises are very strength and stretch-based. Sometimes I combine spiritual exercises (prayer and focusing on the love, peace, and joy of Jesus Christ) with my yoga poses, but mostly I find that simply holding the pose and being still fills me with peace.
These Christian yoga tips and spiritual exercises are inspired by my conversations with believers who don’t think Christians should do yoga. Here’s why Christians need not fear yoga, plus several yoga DVDs that focus on stretching and strength.
Reflecting on yoga (Christian or not) can solidify your beliefs about God
If you take time to understand why Christian yoga is shunned by some believers – and if you pray about your own yoga practice – you will increase your faith and improve your relationship with God. Every bit of exploration you do, whether it’s learning about spiritual exercises or studying the history of the first church, has the potential to bring you closer to Him.
Some Christians believe yoga is an unholy exercise because:
- Yoga has roots in Hinduism
- Yoga encourages us to look inward instead of upward to God
- Mediation is a dangerous practice
- Yoga and spiritual exercises open Christians up to pagan worship
As a Christian, you need to bring your yoga practice to God. If you feel a resistance in your spirit to yoga exercises for spiritual reasons, then you need to stop practicing it.
Your decision to practice Christian yoga can bring you closer to Him
It wasn’t until I started writing about Christian yoga that I discovered why some believers are against this practice. I talked about yoga with my Christian friends, but never really thought about the power of spiritual exercises until now. It’s really important for you to think about yoga and Christianity, and formulate your own opinion. It’s even more important to pray about how Christian yoga and spiritual exercises affect your relationship with God.
I’ve reflected and prayed about yoga, and really believe it has made my relationship withGod stronger. I’ve even written articles such as 10 Benefits of Yoga Poses for the Grieving Process.
You can combine personal spiritual exercises with your Christian yoga practice
The beauty of Christian yoga and spiritual exercises for strength is how many options you have – and all are unique to you! One way to practice Christian yoga to make you stronger both physically and spiritually is to allow God to direct your thoughts and prayers while you hold the poses. Or, you could meditate on one specific verse of Scripture or a prayer throughout your yoga session. You might use a devotion during your yoga practice, or put on Christian music.
I do yoga for physical exercise, strength, and flexibility. I don’t practice yoga for meditation, prayer or devotions. In fact, the idea of Christian yoga and spiritual exercises is very new to me! There are dozens of different types of yoga DVDs and classes, and some are more spiritual (in a non-Christian way) than others.
If you want to combine spiritual exercises with Christian yoga, avoid the classes, DVDs, or YouTube videos that involve the “god of your heart” or looking inward for your power. Don’t practice yoga with practitioners who focus on the spiritual aspects of the exercises.
Consider practicing yoga at home with a DVD
Practicing yoga at home is much more convenient. I don’t like taking time to go to a studio or gym, nor do I like spending money on yoga classes. More importantly, I’m not comfortable with the spiritual exercises that some mainstream yoga classes engage in (eg, looking to our own selves for power and strength, focusing on personal energy instead of God’s awesome power and love).
I took yoga classes when I first started learning the poses, I think it’s important to learn how to do yoga with an in-person instructor. But once you learn the basic poses, you might feel more comfortable doing Christian yoga at home. Then, you can incorporate the spiritual exercises that will make you stronger in your faith.
My Favorite Yoga DVDs
My husband and I do yoga almost every morning; my favorite yoga DVD is Aim True Yoga. If my mind wanders when I’m holding the yoga poses, I focus on God – but mostly I just stretch my body. I don’t meditate or engage in rigorous spiritual exercises when I practice yoga. Sometimes I think about God, but yoga for me is primarily a form of physical exercise.
Here are several different types of beginner and advanced yoga DVDs to suit different types of personalities, fitness and weight loss goals, and body types. They all focus on the physical stretching, strength, and flexibility.
Aim True Yoga DVD
Aim True Yoga is without a doubt my favorite yoga DVD. I used to borrow it from the library all the time, until I realized I had to have my own copy! If you’re looking for tips on how to do yoga for Christians, you’ll learn so much from this DVD.
Yoga for Weight Loss
This is another of my favorite yoga DVDs. Element: Yoga for Weight Loss is not as “hard core” as Baptiste and not as easy as other yoga DVDs I’ve tried – it’s right in the middle. It’s short, too — only 45 minutes. Ashley Turner doesn’t just encourage yoga to achieve weight loss goals, she helps us tune into what really matters in life. If you’re learning Christian yoga, note that she does combine psychology with some of her instructions.
Boot Camp Yoga Meltdown DVD
Jillian Michaels is one of the hottest, fittest fitness instructors in America, and her Yoga Meltdown is a boot camp guaranteed to get you in shape. Michaels is the Biggest Loser’s trainer, and her yoga meltdown combines hard-core yoga poses with her personal training techniques. It’ll get your heart rate going, which is a great way to burn calories. This isn’t a Christian yoga DVD and there are no spiritual exercises involved.
An Easy (Yet Strengthening!) Yoga DVD
The best yoga DVDs aren’t just about achieving weight loss goals! Yoga is also about spiritual and physical healing. Yoga for the Rest of Us focuses on healing and strength for people with arthritis. The exercises will increase your range of motion, loosen stiff joints, and help you relax and strengthen your muscles at the same time.
Baron Baptiste’s Power Yoga DVD
One of my favorite yoga DVDs is Baron Baptiste’s Power Yoga Level 2 – my husband and I practice it twice a week. I enjoy Baron Baptiste’s yoga DVDs – especially his Power Yoga Level 2 – but that doesn’t mean it’s the best yoga DVD for you.
After I do Baptiste’s Power Yoga, I can feel my blood bubbling with strength, power, and optimism! And, I love that I can literally see my strength and flexibility improving. It’s not an easy yoga workout – nor is it Christian. It doesn’t focus on spiritual exercises, either. This is purely physical exercise, and it will make you strong.
I share more possibilities in Best Yoga DVDs for Weight Loss, Stretching, and Energy.
4 Tips for Choosing a Yoga DVD
Before you decide which yoga DVD is best for you, consider these suggestions…
Figure out your goals for practicing yoga
Do you want to connect with your body? Achieve your weight loss goals? Become more flexible? Work out in a different way? Learn how to do Christian yoga with a focus on spiritual exercises? Maybe you’re trying yoga for the first time, or you need to change your “same old” yoga routine. If you can get specific about why you want to practice yoga and what you want to achieve, you’ll be more likely to find the best yoga DVD for you.
Remember that you don’t need to practice yoga perfectly
“We encourage you to develop a flexible mind,” says yoga teacher Baron Baptiste. “You don’t need to be physically flexible. All you need is to focus on letting go, sweating, breathing, moving, and respecting your limitations. A yoga pose will expose blocks and imbalances. Soon the tension will release and your range of motion will naturally increase. As you dissolve brittleness and blockage, your body will regain a more child-like suppleness.”
That quote isn’t from a Christian yoga DVD, but it does teach you how to do yoga. Stretch your muscles, and invite Jesus into your yoga class just like you invite Him into your home, your relationships and your heart.
Set up a yoga DVD exchange with your Christian friends
If you can’t afford to buy several yoga DVDs but want to find the best one for you, set up an exchange program with your Christian friends, family, and coworkers. Get five friends to buy a different yoga DVD each. Set up a rotational system, so everyone gets to try a different yoga DVD every month. That way, you won’t get bored of the same old yoga routine and your body won’t adjust and stop responding to the same exercises. And, if your friends have already tried your Christian yoga DVDs, you’re less likely to end up with one that offends your spirituality.
What do you think about Christian yoga and spiritual exercises? I welcome your thoughts below!