What Yoga Has Taught Me as A Non-Hindu and a Christian

rachel dahl a la modest yoga balmain black gold vintage christian

My back was turned in all but one of these photos, because the shoulders and the backbone of this top are where the fun is! I was wearing an orange Nike tank underneath straight out of the gym, and that is what you see shining through the see through spine. If I had worn a multicolor tank top underneath this, it would’ve been a perfect chakra representation! This lovely ribbed long sleeved top is from Sammydress. Doesn’t its texture kind of remind you of a toned down Balmain?

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Being open to spirituality is something to be celebrated. Believing in something is better than believing in nothing at all.

Yogis believe that there is a spirit realm, including a creator called Brahma. Similarly, Christians believe in spirits and a Creator as well. However, Christians also believe that the devil and his demons know that there is a God and a spirit realm as well and that any spirit other than an angel is a demon, because according to the Bible, humans go directly to either heaven or hell (Hebrews 9:27). Because of this, many Christians turn their backs on yoga and write everything off about it as demonic, because it is a spiritual practice but not Christian.

However, yogis seem to display “fruits” that are good, loving, kind, peaceful, and self controlled at all times, which is what the Bible teaches Christians to be like (Galatians 5:22). Many of them treat others more highly than or as highly as themselves, believe in non violence, non lying and non stealing, simplicity and generosity, avoidance of lust and displaying purity, and encouraging general positivity, according to yoga’s Eightfold Path. Yogis presence and practice do not display obvious outward signs of evil.

Though the Bible in 2 Corinth 11:14-15 warns Christians not to be deceived by demons, who in their power can pose as “angels of light” and “servants of righteousness,” we do not need to worship these spirits as traditional Hindi yogis worship their gods. We stay true to our own faith.

We must all recognize however our similarities but also understand our differences—which brings me to my next point.

Emphasizing loving others despite differences is a better example of your faith than condemnation

A very young child in  my family passed by a church unlike her own and proclaimed disgust by saying something like “eew.” Members of her family were tickled by her reaction enough to share it with others including me. I was appalled but mostly by the adults’ response to this. How could we be teaching and encouraging our children to hate others? It is okay to express differences, but it is never okay to look down on others and their practices (which are often linked to their culture and upbringing), and never loving to show your superiority by mocking them. It is not on Christ’s mandate or any other spiritual leaders’ advice to mock others.

Not that you’re supposed to water down your own belief, hide it, or change it, but yoga has taught me to be kind to anyone, regardless of background. People of the same faith naturally tend to alienate others who are outside their circle, and this is just not what Christ or any other faith leader would do.

Yoga has given me an opportunity to converse with and learn from others, humbling myself to the realization that my own feelings might’ve been shaping details of my faith that are not of the spirit.

Encourage me to accept my own body and think beyond it, even as I use my body for exercise.

Through yoga, I’ve learned to accept my own body more rather than change it, and changing our bodies is what most exercises push us to do. However the great reward of this acceptance, this self love through yoga postures and movements, asanas and vinyasas, somehow results in the most amazing physique and sensation my body has ever had. It is truly ironic! It could only be mind over matter, and the power of the mind can change your physical limitations. Simply amazing. I’ve never felt and looked better in my entire life.

Treat my body more like a temple of the spirit

This “exercise,” this lifestyle is what I’ve come to embrace yoga as has made me more self controlled. It has made me more disciplined—needing less sleep and food with this new burst of energy, and needing less material possessions, and wanting no junk food or harsh chemicals to enter my body. The Christian church has taught none of this if barely.

How are Christians supposed to give themselves to the Lord if they are consuming addictive substances such as sugar and gluten on a daily basis? The body is literally a temple of the Holy Spirit according to 1 Corinth 6:19-20, which yoga constantly reminds us of. I do not mean to make anyone feel bad, but I wish to share how we’ve been poisoned by commerce to  think that dessert and modern day wheat are okay. Bread during the ancient times was totally biochemically different, and we as children of progress have destroyed that. Perhaps the Christian church should change communion to have something other than today’s wheat.

Solidified my belief in the spirit world and its connection with the physical

Whether sadly or not, practicing yoga has made the spirit world come alive to me again. It’s easy to get stagnant and complacent with the Christian faith at times. We go to church every Sunday, go to at least one Bible study a week, give and receive the same popular scriptures out of context to make yourself or others feel good about themselves, listen to unpalatable CCM (Christian Contemporary Music), and get condemned if you do anything that gives the appearance of evil like read Harry Potter or wear a natural crystal around your neck, etc. Sure, it’s best not to partake in something that clearly looks bad, like having a teacher of the opposite gender hang out with a teenager after school hours.

Crystals were formed by God, came straight from the earth, and do geologically, like all things give off resonance and vibration like humans do. That’s not mumbo jumbo or witch craft. That’s a fact. Whether or not crystals heal or change moods is up to you—that’s partly having faith. The same thing goes for “grounding” or “earthing,” which some Christians have also condemned as a sort of new age practice. This earth was formed and belongs to God, thank you. I will be sitting on it, sleeping on it, and walking barefoot on it, as long as I live on this earth. The land beneath your feet (or hands or head if you’re doing inversions!) scientifically gives off electrons, so if the word “magic” scares you, you can just think of this as electrons. Our bodies need this charge naturally from the earth, that we get so little of now because of modern day living, because of rubber soled shoes for instance.

The connection I’ve drawn between the physical and spiritual from yoga has a lot to do with continually treating my body with care by food and the right kind of exercise our bodies can handle with little complication. Marathons and doing typical cardio exercises for an hour or so are not kind to the body, and a lot of professionals in the scientific field are starting to realize and warn us of that.

This proper maintenance of the body in turn strengthens the mind, upholds the spirit. Part of yoga’s goal is to be able to control the body through awareness in order for the body to be open spiritually. Most of Western yoga has diminished the second part of that equation, which for a Christian is probably the safest thing to do. However, I believe that in order to truly serve our God we must purify the body of its physical addictions from bad food and lifestyles, because these can control your minds and habits. If we are not willing to let go of our wheat based cupcakes at least for a day, then these have become your god. Same goes for the love of money and anything else that you cannot let go of (1 Timothy 6:10). Yoga seems to be of help in these areas through discipline.

There is no end to learning

Being immersed in yoga as both a student and a teacher in its Western derivation has made me want to learn more—not only about asanas but about my own body, how to treat others, the earth, and my awareness of the spirit realm. When I am grounding on the field upside down and with the sun on my face, I think “God, I feel your presence in me and on this earth. Thank you for your creation.”