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  • Jesuit Yoga I — Christians Practicing Yoga
    I promised to report on the results of the seminar with ten fine students at its conclusion this week and so here and hereafter I offer some reflections Given the great popularity and accessibility of yoga I was told recently that 20 million Americans practice some version of it it may seem a bit too academic to go back and study the Sutras but I was convinced by my seminar that this is very much worth the effort even necessary if we are to know what yoga is all about Yoga is extremely supple in its ability to take on various rationales nondualist devotional health oriented Hindu Buddhist etc and my impression is that even expert teachers of disciplined yoga practice are rather fluid sometimes unhelpfully vague in their explanations as to what it is all for The Sutras help pin down a succinct attitude toward the practice and its purpose Consider these select verses in my own somewhat loose translation indebted to published translations which I ve consulted along with the Sanskrit text I 1 5 Now instruction regarding yoga Yoga is the restraint of fluctuations in consciousness With such restraint the seer abides in his own form otherwise the mind takes the form of the fluctuations The fluctuations are fivefold valid cognition error false conceptualization sleep and memory They are afflicted or non afflicted I 12 23 Through practice and dispassion the restraint of the fluctuations or by dedication to the lord I 47 49 51 When there is clarity in the non reflective state there arises calmness with respect to self and then there is truth bearing wisdom which in content differs from wisdom that is taught or learned by inferences for its object is specific But when even that is restricted everything is restricted and that absorption that is final However physical yoga may be it is in Patanjali s view primarily about the mind its disturbances and distractions fluctuations and the way in which detachment practice and even devotion dedication can free the mind from what ails it with results unimaginable for those comfortable with the constricted distorted mind Only if such matters are clearly understood as explained in the first chapter of the Sutras will the physical practice the breathing exercises the expanded capacities and higher insights do the practitioner any good unless you change the way you think nothing you do will help you much Each of these verses and the rest of the 195 merits close reading since in the Sanskrit at least no word is superfluous each makes a point My seminar was all about this close reading with about eight of the classical and modern commentaries as our guide It was also readers may recall a comparative course in the sense that I brought to bear on the Sutras insights from the Spiritual Exercises of St Ignatius which we read along with the Sutras More on this in a later segment in this series of reflections but I will close

    Original URL path: http://www.christianspracticingyoga.com/christianity-and-yoga-blog/2015/9/1/jesuit-yoga-i (2016-04-26)
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  • Yoga as Sabbath — Christians Practicing Yoga
    September 22 2015 Renee Yoga as Sabbath Renee September 22 2015 Yoga as Sabbath Renee September 22 2015 Once upon a time in a land filled with lakes I worked as a lifeguard at a Christian camp during my college summers I loved spending all day in the sun knew exactly when to apply sunscreen to avoid burning and learned how to care for pools testing pH levels and vacuuming dirt We worked long 14 hour days minding kids of all ages and performing other icky upkeep chores like cleaning the bathrooms We had a saying for doing things we didn t want to do Cleaning the toilets for Jesus Filling water balloons for Jesus Diving in murky water for Jesus During my second summer I was the head lifeguard practicing servant leadership which meant I often chose the worst chores for myself instead of making my minions do them One day we needed to find anchors at the bottom of the lake We had lost the ropes tied to them but we knew approximately were they were So I dove into murky water stretching my hands into the silty bottom searching for a steel loop embedded in concrete I imagined leeches latching onto my fingers stayed until my lungs nearly popped and then flew back up to the surface I shook my hands above the water trying to clean them with air inspecting them for leeches No leeches Then my partner said from the canoe I just saw a snapping turtle surface over there Diving with snapping turtles for Jesus I had no boundaries I pushed myself carrying my 14 hour lifeguard days into the classroom spending 14 hours a day preparing grading and teaching I burned out within three years And then I found yoga Naturally during my first class we practiced a seated forward fold the pose where your legs are straight and you try to touch your toes I couldn t touch my toes but I strained to do it Touch your toes for Jesus My instructor told me to respect the limits of my hamstrings and let my hands rest on my legs at whatever point felt comfortable At a point where my hamstrings were stretching but my legs stayed on the mat and my back wasn t hyper extending Oh Permission to stay within my range of movement felt like someone had replaced my muscles with chocolate pudding delicious In that moment yoga mesmerized me I knew instinctively that if my physical body had limits like this then so did my spiritual body I knew yoga had something to teach my faith I now understand that yogis respect the limitations of the body so as to not break the body By respecting the limitations and playing the edge as Erich Schiffmann says the body grows stronger and increases its range of motion When you over extend your edge you tear the muscle and then it has to reknit usually tighter than when it began

    Original URL path: http://www.christianspracticingyoga.com/christianity-and-yoga-blog/yoga-sabbath (2016-04-26)
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  • Yoga + Faith — Christians Practicing Yoga
    matter what walk of life you come from Yoga Faith Yoga is not a religion It is nonsectarian but contains the ability to deepen anyone s faith Aspects of yoga have been incorporated into many groups and various organizations including religions for thousands of years However yoga is not a religion in and of itself nor do you have to be religious to practice yoga Some have used the practice of yoga meditation and times of stillness to reflect on self enlightenment a source they believe in or as an act of worship There is a myth that one must be Hindu or Buddhist to practice yoga The truth is that yoga predates many of the religions that have incorporated yoga techniques In the Middle Ages 500 1500 BC numerous variations and practices stemmed from the common Hatha yoga practice Bhakti yoga is one stem It focuses on surrendering to God Unlike other types of yoga Bhakti is a spiritual journey and a devotion to the divine This often confuses followers of Christ and makes them question practicing yoga Hindus incorporated Bhakti yoga and other yoga techniques into their religious practices Other religions have done the same thing however because Hinduism is the most popular religious group to incorporate and use yoga many believe that yoga is Hinduism and that you have to worship other gods or believe other philosophies in order to practice yoga This would be like saying you can t read the Bible if you are not a Christian Of course the Word of God and Jesus is inclusive and for everyone just like the practice of yoga How a practitioner or a group chooses to use yoga is their business It certainly is not up to others to judge how or why one practices The reality of our world is that we are so quick to judge one another or throw stones at something we don t quite understand or have never experienced for ourselves Our job as human beings is to honor respect and edify one another and learn to put aside all judgments Can a Christian Practice Yoga There are many misconceptions as to why a Christian can or cannot practice yoga As with anything it is a matter of intentionality What are you meditating contemplating or dwelling on What are you setting your heart and mind toward at any given moment Scripture says whatever you do do it all to the glory of God 1 Corinthians 10 31 Colossians 3 23 reads Whatever you do do from the heart as for the Lord and not for others Christians no matter what we choose to do to honor our temple do it all for the glory of God When we take care of ourselves we are honoring and glorifying Christ YogaFaith is a Christ centered yoga practice This is a practice of reclaiming and redeeming numerous biblical principles such as meditating complete surrender and whole worship as Acts 17 28 describes In Him we

    Original URL path: http://www.christianspracticingyoga.com/christianity-and-yoga-blog/2015/8/11/yoga-faith (2016-04-26)
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  • Yoga the Broomtree — Christians Practicing Yoga
    Who We Are Mission History Get Involved Contributors Contact Christians Practicing Yoga Learn Overview Our Perspective History of Yoga and Christianity Can Yoga Help Me Pray Is Yoga a Religion The Eight Limbs of Yoga Are Yamas and Niyamas the same as the Commandments Is Pranayama compatible with Christianity What is the Christian Perspective on the Energy Body What is Christian Meditation What does chanting OM mean Additional Reading Discern Why Discern Is yoga right for me Can yoga help a Christian pray Chanting Kundalini Energy Reincarnation Practice Finding a yoga class Home Practice Christian Meditation Lectio Divina Find a Teacher Teacher Trainings Retreats and Workshops Personal Stories Saying yes Why I Teach and Practice Yoga and Jesus Body and Bread Yoga Deepened my Relationship with God Breathing in the Neshamah Yoga and Meditation as a College Course Why I Fell in Love with Yoga How We Started our Christian Yoga Practice Why I Teach Yoga from a Christian Perspective Blog About Us Who We Are Mission History Get Involved Contributors Contact September 8 2015 Renee Yoga the Broomtree Renee September 8 2015 Yoga the Broomtree Renee September 8 2015 Renee Prymus During the summer the temperature in the Sinai Peninsula and the Negev Desert is HOT Over 100 degrees hot This landscape is where the Israelites wandered with Moses for forty years This desert has precious little shade If you re caught out in the desert in the afternoon shade can mean your survival You don t need much shade Just a tiny little bit I Kings says that when he was in the desert Elijah put his head under a broom tree Growing in the desert broom trees don t have enough water to grow very high just high enough to put your head under to shield it

    Original URL path: http://www.christianspracticingyoga.com/christianity-and-yoga-blog/2015/8/11/yoga-the-broomtree (2016-04-26)
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  • Yoga, Greek Poets, and the Apostle Paul — Christians Practicing Yoga
    fashioned for thee Zeus O high and holy One The lying Cretans who are all the time liars evil beasts idle bellies But thou diest not for to eternity thou livest and standest For in thee we live and move and have our being Epimenides translation by Lawlor According to Epimenides Zeus and God have a lot in common they cannot die and they give life to others When Paul visits Athens he quotes Epimenides Here s the full passage from Acts Here s the quote in the context of Acts 17 22 28 Paul then stood up in the meeting of the Areopagus and said People of Athens I see that in every way you are very religious For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship I even found an altar with this inscription to an unknown god So you are ignorant of the very thing you worship and this is what I am going to proclaim to you The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands And he is not served by human hands as if he needed anything Rather he himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else From one man he made all the nations that they should inhabit the whole earth and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him though he is not far from any one of us For in him we live and move and have our being As some of your own poets have said We are his offspring Acts 17 22 28 In this passage Paul finds the presence of God in his surrounding culture he finds an altar to an Unknown God whom Paul names as the God of Abraham He quotes Greek poets to say Hey All these things you say about these other gods They really describe GOD These quotes reveal that Paul has spent time in his surrounding culture he knows it and he knows how to identify and name the presence of the Creator God in culture I love that the verse that many of us use to describe what we re doing with yoga actually comes from Greek poetry borrowed by Paul to describe God then written down as God s word There s a beautiful symmetry about it as Christians practicing yoga we are using something beautiful codified by a different culture then shaped by American culture and using it to pray In my view the heat of the debate about Christians practicing yoga really comes down to a theology of culture How do you believe Christ influences Culture How does Culture influence the Church How does the Church influence Culture In the community where I grew up we believed that the church could

    Original URL path: http://www.christianspracticingyoga.com/christianity-and-yoga-blog/2015/8/11/yoga-greek-poets-and-the-apostle-paul (2016-04-26)
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  • Interview with Seva Award Winner Joanne Spence — Christians Practicing Yoga
    practice was power vinyasa flow quite different from my practice now but savasana has always been my favorite once I gave myself permission to do it Ever since my debilitating car accident two years earlier I had been working very hard to recover and build up my stamina and strength I thought I had both but after a few hours of practicing and learning about yoga I discovered I didn t have much of either Hence my great surprise when I woke up three days later to a pain free version of myself I hadn t seen this version of myself since the accident Often I am slow to pick on new skills but when I get it I get it I realized that on days when I practiced I felt good and pain free and on days when I didn t practice I had pain This convinced me that a daily practice was my only option I had to It was time to be well and yoga was and is the practice that supports me to be well I like to call it being present and accounted for mentally and physically CPY What questions did you have as a Christian practicing yoga and how did you resolve them JS I was very excited about the change in my pain levels so I practiced and told others about yoga with enthusiastic evangelical zeal I had no prior knowledge of the practice so I blissfully told whoever would listen about my experience Many friends and family who knew of my struggle with chronic pain were happy for my newfound energy and renewed zest for life It was an exciting time The Christian mom s group I belonged to at Beulah Presbyterian Church became my first teaching venue and where I earned my teaching hours for my certification As new as it all was this group really embraced my healing and my teaching We all benefited from the experience and many of my first students went on to become teachers It was during this time that I started hearing scuttlebutt about yoga not being for Christians This sounded pretty preposterous to me but did raise a red flag that made me look into the origins of yoga a little more In my local inner city library branch in Wilkinsburg of all places I found one little book on yoga It was by Jean Marie Dechanet called Christian Yoga 1956 I devoured the book I also found Tom Ryan s Prayer of Heart and Body Meditation and Yoga as Christian Spiritual Practice 1995 I realized that I had missed my chance to meet the late Dechanet but I was determined to find Father Ryan By this time he was living in NYC and I found his email through the Paulist website We corresponded via email and set up a time to meet when I was next in New York I enjoyed his book and wanted to see if he was a real Jesus

    Original URL path: http://www.christianspracticingyoga.com/christianity-and-yoga-blog/2015/8/17/joanne-spence-seva (2016-04-26)
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  • Breathing and the Valley of the Dry Bones — Christians Practicing Yoga
    come upon you and cover you with skin I will put breath in you and you will come to life Then you will know that I am the Lord Ezekiel 37 4 6 So Ezekiel says the words and he hears rattling and watches the bones snap together like Legos click click click While he s watching tendons stretch over the bones flesh and skin stretch over the tendons and suddenly there s an army of dead people in front of him There is no breath in the bodies Then God said Prophesy to the breath prophesy son of man and say to it This is what the Sovereign Lord says Come breath from the four winds and breathe into these slain that they may live Ezekiel 37 9 So Ezekiel again says the words and the breath of God whooshes through enters the body and the bodies stood up a vast army It s like a passage from The Return of the King when Aragorn commands the army of the dead to fight for him Except that instead of a green and ghastly army this army is vibrantly alive resurrected with the breath of God Ruach Breath of God In Hebrew the words in this passage for breath wind and spirit are all the same word ruach Literally life breath The life breath of God pulled these bones and tendons together The life breath of God flowed into them and stood them up The life breath of God flows into Israel and makes her new This is the same ruach as in Genesis 1 1 where the ruach the Spirit of God hovers over the waters of the earth before it was formed And the process in this chapter then parallels the process of God making man as God formed Adam s body before breathing life into him just as in the valley of the dry bones The body is created first and then the ruach gives life If God s ruach can do this with a valley of literal dry bones imagine what God can do with the valleys of dry bones inside our hearts I love the idea of God s breath whooshing through us The idea that it is God s breath that we breathe every moment That this life giving breath is in us helping us stand and live This is a pretty idea but Ezekiel takes this idea of life even further To understand it we need to know What did this story mean to Israel Ezekiel was a prophet in the context of Old Testament Israel At this point in history Israel was divided into two North and South and the Northern Kingdom had already fallen to Syria The Southern Kingdom had a complicated relationship with Assyria Egypt and Babylon and eventually falls to Babylon Ezekiel lives among the exiles in Babylon before the fall of the Southern Kingdom Ezekiel should have had priestly duties in the Temple but couldn t fulfill them

    Original URL path: http://www.christianspracticingyoga.com/christianity-and-yoga-blog/2015/8/10/breathing-and-the-valley-of-the-dry-bones (2016-04-26)
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  • from Déchanet's letters to Thomas Merton on Contemplation — Christians Practicing Yoga
    Fell in Love with Yoga How We Started our Christian Yoga Practice Why I Teach Yoga from a Christian Perspective Blog About Us Who We Are Mission History Get Involved Contributors Contact Christians Practicing Yoga Learn Overview Our Perspective History of Yoga and Christianity Can Yoga Help Me Pray Is Yoga a Religion The Eight Limbs of Yoga Are Yamas and Niyamas the same as the Commandments Is Pranayama compatible with Christianity What is the Christian Perspective on the Energy Body What is Christian Meditation What does chanting OM mean Additional Reading Discern Why Discern Is yoga right for me Can yoga help a Christian pray Chanting Kundalini Energy Reincarnation Practice Finding a yoga class Home Practice Christian Meditation Lectio Divina Find a Teacher Teacher Trainings Retreats and Workshops Personal Stories Saying yes Why I Teach and Practice Yoga and Jesus Body and Bread Yoga Deepened my Relationship with God Breathing in the Neshamah Yoga and Meditation as a College Course Why I Fell in Love with Yoga How We Started our Christian Yoga Practice Why I Teach Yoga from a Christian Perspective Blog About Us Who We Are Mission History Get Involved Contributors Contact August 11 2015 Dana Moore from Déchanet s letters to Thomas Merton on Contemplation Dana Moore August 11 2015 from Déchanet s letters to Thomas Merton on Contemplation Dana Moore August 11 2015 La contemplation c est la Croix l isolement l incompréhension ce sont ces mains largements tendues pour recevoir de manu Domini tout ce qu il lui plaira Les Maîtres antiques peuvent nous aider car ils ont connu cela mais à nous de faire la synthèse de tant de contradictions qui viennent peupler notre vie Jean Marie Déchanet o s b à Thomas Merton o c s o 12 mars 196 So Father

    Original URL path: http://www.christianspracticingyoga.com/christianity-and-yoga-blog/2015/8/11/from-dchanets-letters-to-thomas-merton-on-contemplation (2016-04-26)
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