I am sometimes asked why, as a Christian, I would choose yoga out of all the forms of exercise out there. Different practitioners have different reasons, but these are some of mine:
- Because to the pure all things are pure.
- Because the Kingdom of God covers all human endeavor, and I believe in playing offense, not hiding in a bunker.
- Because few things I’ve done combine the therapeutic effect for my body and the cognitive challenge of complex movement the way that yoga does. It’s interesting.
- Because yoga’s systematic exploration of my range of motion exposes weaknesses I didn’t know I had.
- Because practicing an absorbing form of exercise really does provide stress relief and calm. The movement is challenging enough that while I’m working out, it demands my full attention, crowding out everything else. When I come to rest on my mat, my mind is clear, and I find it easy to come into a place of prayer and devotion in a way that would have been very difficult before practice.
- Because it feels good.
- Because it’s fun.
Of course, the real backdrop to the question is usually an assumption that there must be something wrong with a Christian practicing yoga. I’ve addressed that elsewhere on this site, but I have something I want to add here, and I admit that there’s a few extra peppers in the salsa this time. When you want to understand financial stewardship, you don’t seek advice from a guy who’s living in a Maytag box under a bridge. When you want pastoral counseling for your marriage, you don’t go to a guy who’s on his third wife. And when you want to know God’s heart when it comes to physical movement, you don’t go to a flabby and dyspeptic purveyor of “discernment ministry” who can barely reach down far enough to tie his shoes. Not every one of yoga’s Christian despisers falls into that category, but quite a few of them do. As far as I’m concerned, those folks have disqualified themselves from the discussion. God gave me a body, and I’m treating it like the good gift that it is. I like the way I move to the glory of God better than the way they don’t.