There are many misconceptions out there about Christian yoga and its benefits. Educating yourself and finding the right class and teacher are key. Private sessions are also an option if you are unsure where to start.
Common Misconceptions about Christian Yoga:
- Yoga is a religion: Yoga has been around for thousands of years, long before certain religions added it to their practice. “The goal is wholeness: mind, body, spirit and soul. You do not have to be Brazilian to do Zumba, you do not have to be Buddhist to practice martial arts and you do not have to be Hindu to practice yoga. ” – Yoga Faith Christian yoga teacher training.
- Yoga has some weird components: Most general yoga classes in the US consist of –
- Poses. Yoga poses, also called postures or asanas, are a series of movements designed to increase strength and flexibility. Poses range from lying on the floor while completely relaxed to difficult postures that may have you pushing your physical limits. Every pose has a purpose and benefit.
- Breathing. Controlling your breath is an important part of yoga. It can help you quiet your mind, reduce stress and improve lung function.
- Meditation or relaxation. In Christian yoga, meditation is simply quieting your mind while you take time to be in God’s presence, being still and waiting to hear from him or meditating on scripture. (Whole-Hearted Yoga incorporates Christian and secular music, devotionals and scripture into practices.)
- I’m not flexible enough to do yoga: You have to start somewhere! Practicing yoga creates flexibility, strength, and balance. You have to begin where you are and build from there. Participating in a practice regularly will help you progress. A beginner series is a great place to try it out.
- I’m too old to do yoga: Not true! My 72-yr-old mother, who has lead a very sedentary life for the last few years, started chair yoga this year. She practices twice a week and loves it.
- I don’t have a yoga body; I’m too big and out of shape: Yoga is for every body type. The key is finding a teacher and class that meets you where you are right now in your life. Yoga can also help you lose weight, accept and love your body.
- I have chronic pain and injuries, so I can’t do yoga: Yoga is actually perfect for you. Talk to your teacher ahead of time so she can offer modifications. Yoga can help heal you and assist you with pain relief.
- Yoga is not a work out / all yoga is the same; its too slow: There are many styles and types of yoga, from Vinyasa, which moves quickly and burns major calories, to a Slow Flow, which still burns calories, but moves at a much slower, controlled pace. Restorative yoga is primarily for relaxation and requires very little movement. There are many more.
- Yoga is only for women: Yoga was started by men! In fact, at one time, women were not allowed to learn yoga. As more people become educated about the benefits of yoga, it is becoming more practiced among men. Yoga is a complement to any sports, and many professional athletes are now incorporating it into their regimen.
Yoga has numerous benefits, including…
- Drawing closer to God through Christian meditation and centering
- Increased balance and flexibility: As we grow older, the first things we lose are balance and flexibility. Yoga helps to maintain and improve these.
- Healing from trauma: Studies show that trauma and stress are held in the body and brain. Many mental health practitioners are now incorporating yoga to help trauma victims reconnect with their bodies in a safe place.
- Chronic stress relief and Depression reduction: “…Researchers found that participants who had high scores on a depression scale prior to an 8-week yoga intervention demonstrated a significant reduction in depression scores after the 8 weeks.” – Medical News Today
- Strength building and muscle toning: A pose that is seemingly super simple can help increase strength and endurance.
- Improved focus: Learning to hold poses while ignoring distractions helps improve focus and concentration.
- Improved breathing capacity and energy
- Maintaining a balanced metabolism, reduction in weight and mindful eating
- Cardio and circulatory health: “Several small studies have found yoga to have a positive effect on cardiovascular risk factors: It helped lower blood pressure in people who have hypertension. It’s likely that the yoga restores ‘baroreceptor sensitivity.’ This helps the body senses imbalances in blood pressure and maintain balance.” – Harvard.edu
- Improved athletic performance / Protection from injury
- Pain management
- Detoxifying for the Body
- Improved bone density
- Better Body Image
- Sense of Community…the list goes on!
There are many options available with various class types and teaching styles. If you’re new to yoga, reach out to an instructor for guidance. You’ll want to find the teacher that is right for you. In my opinion, it is better to start with a beginner / slow flow class or private lesson with an instructor vs doing a video at home. By working with an instructor, you can be sure your form is correct and help avoid any injuries.
For more information or to sign up for a class, contact Lori Washko
Beginner / Slow Flow class Tuesdays @ 9 am at Whole-Hearted Yoga
Cost is $10 per person. Space is limited. Click the link above to sign up.
Want more information about Christian Yoga? Check out these sites: ChristianYogaAssociation.org, HolyYoga.net, and YogaFaith.org
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