Although developed entirely in the ancient Hindu tradition, Yoga has become universally accepted and adopted by many different spiritual paths and cultures. One of these is western Christianity.
For many Christians, however, Yoga is viewed as a spiritual practice quite difficult to accept within the Christian belief system. They are concerned that since Yoga comes from the Hindu religion, its purpose is for the practitioner to become nearer to God. The question for those who have doubts about accepting it; is whether or not the practitioner may be led to a different God. Because of that concern, many Christians miss out on the wonderful benefits available to them through Yoga.
Though some practitioners of Yoga feel it has no place in Christianity; there are a number of Yoga instructors who practice and teach the art. Usually, they are women and they actually using the church building as a classroom. Several well known Christian denominations embrace the practice.
They view the study of yoga as a healthy way to attain peace of mind, and therefore, a way of opening the path between the church member and God. For these Christians, there seems to be no contradiction stopping them from enjoying the benefits of Yoga. In addition, they want to enjoy all the physical pluses that come with practicing Yoga.
It should also be noted that not all people practice Yoga as a means of spiritual enlightenment; just doing the stretches and positions that make up Yoga can benefit the body without necessarily embracing the practice as a means to religious growth. There are many classes held all over the world that, in fact, focus on the physical aspects of Yoga without attention to the spiritual concerns.
Several forms of Christian Yoga are taught in a variety of classes in the United States. Many are taught by formal Yoga instructors, others are led by students themselves; and when held inside a church, whether intentional or not, the class encompasses the broader spectrum of spirituality.
Yoga dates back to Upanishad's period, and the word Yoga, itself is originated from Hindu culture. According to the religious practice of Hinduism, one can achieve freedom from limiting constraints of the flesh and the pitfalls of thought, as well as the delusions of the senses by going through the various levels of discipline available in Yoga. Based on this thinking, the art has been practiced by people throughout the ages.
In fact, some of the early Christians themselves practiced Yoga in spite of, or at the expense of considerable harassment. Even in today's society, some Christians are told by their religious leaders that they must not embrace Yoga because it would lead them away from their own religion and to the belief of another god.
Other Christians are certain that the actual description of Yoga can actually be found in the New Testament account of the life of Jesus Christ. They maintain that just as He led people on a simple path that brings ultimate transformation to one's life; Yoga is a step by step process of that same path which leads to a new life within.
Fortunately, for today's generation of Christians, the love and spirit that touched the early Christian Yoga practitioners is becoming an inherent part of the Yoga practiced now. For those people, this is an exciting time because the wonderful possibilities of Yoga, which have been hidden for all these centuries, are about to unfold.
That thought goes hand in hand with the promise left by Jesus when He said that “this heaven that is new awareness of your life is not far away; if you know the way to find it, then it is already yours. "
What an incredible concept!
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