My Truth About Yoga and My Faith
Two months ago, I graduated from Yoga Teacher Training. I have had a lot of time since then to explore where yoga fits into my life now. Now that I have stepped out of the bubble of Teacher Training, the reality of “what yoga is” has changed for me. I have done a lot of thinking on how yoga fits into my life spiritually and as a believer in Christ. During one week in training, we had to write a “faith statement” and for me, that is where things began getting blurry. I listened carefully to what my classmates and teacher said, and I stepped away from that night questioning myself. Questioning my faith- my idea of what God was. Not because I suddenly didn’t believe in Him, but because I realized I may be getting myself in over my head. I kept this inquiry between myself and God, for the most part. “Lord, if yoga becomes bigger than my faith in you, show me,” became my prayer.
Through trusting my heart and being still enough to listen to where He was speaking, I’ve been able to form my idea of “what yoga is.” It has not been an easy process, and it isn’t over yet. In fact, it has come with unexpected hurt, questioning myself, and re-thinking who I look to for truth. I feel strongly about writing this post because yes, I am a Christian, and yes, I talk a lot about yoga. What does that mean about my belief in God? What do people think when they see my posts and my pictures about yoga, knowing I am a Christian? I am aware there can be confusion in this area. Yoga, at its core, means unity, but it also encompasses a lot of other things. Chakras, meditation, crystals, energy, mythology…so it’s understandable why I had this thought in the back of my head. What do other Christians think? What do non-Christians think?
“It doesn’t matter what anyone thinks,” I was told by my teacher. “Who am I to question the way anyone connects with their creator?”
I sat with that answer, but I didn’t like it.
Here is why.
I am not attached to what other people think. Sure, it crosses my mind and can make me a little uncomfortable. I am human.
I care what other people think about God when they see me living my life.
What do the things I associate and align myself say about God to others who are looking in on my life?
Reading my blog? Following me on social media?
What do I show them God is?
Who do I show them God is?
THIS MATTERS. Deeply. Why? Because this earth isn’t my home, this body isn’t mine, and this life isn’t simply for me. I am God’s vessel to do His work here on earth. I believe with all of my heart I have purpose during my time here, and that purpose is to glorify God. I do this by loving Him, and loving others. Yoga has allowed me to spread a whole lot of love, but yoga is not THE answer. Yoga is simply one of the answers.
With something brand new and exciting, it is easy to get swept away in the magic of it all. Before I knew it, I was putting my trust in things other than the Lord. Not completely, but enough to make something inside of me stir, and knock on the door of my heart. “Are you sure?” It asked. “Is this what you believe? Is this what yoga is? Is it the biggest thing?” That something, I believe, was God’s voice.
“Lord, if yoga becomes bigger than my faith in you, show me.”
And because He is faithful, He is showing me. I did not realize I had started putting my faith in man instead of God. I did not realize that I was looking for love and acceptance in others I held above me. I forgot His love was the only love that truly matters. I was concentrating on pleasing my teacher and being a leader, and I forgot to be guided by Him. I did not realize it was so easy to begin to be led in a direction I am not comfortable with.
I listened to the ideas that yoga was the answer, was my life, and I had everything inside me I needed. Yoga saved my life. It could someday support me emotionally and financially. Don’t get me wrong, those ideas are not completely incorrect. Yoga is an answer- but for me, God is THE answer. Yoga is not my life- it is a part of it. I DO have everything I need inside of me- but let me not forget the reason why, and that reason is because I have God in me, and God is everything I need.
GOD used yoga to save my life. He used yoga to wake me up, because He is full of grace and mercy that I cannot possibly understand. When I was in the darkest of places in my life, God used something unlikely to reach me. A practice that connected me t.o my body and mind; when I had spent most of my life disconnected. God used yoga to help me really SEE myself for the first time- and sometimes I get glimpses of the way He sees me, because of yoga. I don’t think that is an accident. My emotional, physical, and mental support comes from God. It comes from the strong, beautiful souls He has placed in my life. It comes in the lessons He teaches me despite my stubbornness to rely on everything BUT Him. I am gifted as a caretaker, and my job as a nurse supports me financially. I could have been anything- but God gave me a humble, open heart for the neonatal and pediatric patients I have spent that last 9 years working with.
I don’t know if this is a faith statement, a declaration, a list, etc. My truth is, yoga is not magic. It is a wonderful, important tool I use as I try to live my best life. Yoga is not God. I do not have a spiritual mentor and guide except for God. I need not to depend on someone else’s approval of my practice, the way I choose to show up in life, or the choices I make with my heart. Yoga is not a form of Christianity that I create to match what makes me happy, but still spiritual. Yoga is a form of growth. It is a gift.
If I suddenly lost the ability to do and be part of this thing I love so dearly, what would I be left with?
My answer is, everything.
I would still have everything.