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  • Is Pranayama compatible with Christianity? — Christians Practicing Yoga
    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 Is Pranayama compatible with Christianity 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 The use of breathing practices in yoga Bernadette L Pranayama regulating mastering or controlling the life force Pranayama is the fourth limb of Patanjali s eight limbed path Prana is a Sanskrit word meaning vital energy life energy or life force It is the energy that exists in all things at all levels of the universe Ayama means to master regulate control or prolong Thus pranayama means to regulate the life force This life force is regulated through specific breathing practices which is why some people have confused prana with breath Prana however is more than breath There is prana life energy throughout the body but it is our breath its rate depth and quality that determines how and where this energy flows When we breathe our cells convert the oxygen we inhale to energy But depending on how we breathe our oxygen intake may be restricted which in turn affects the energy level in the body Many of us are familiar with the numerous studies correlating the importance of breath to reducing stress improving organ function and soothing the central nervous system In the yogic understanding of prana if we can breathe mindfully we can develop awareness of the

    Original URL path: http://www.christianspracticingyoga.com/pranayama/ (2016-04-26)
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  • What is the Christian Perspective on the Energy Body? — Christians Practicing Yoga
    circle are the energy centers in the astral body roughly corresponding to the spinal plexi relay terminals along the spine at which the central nervous system brain spinal cord and their nerves communicates with the autonomic nervous system which modulates the activities of the glands organs and other involuntary processes Most texts speak of seven chakras five of which are located along the spine The sixth is located in the center of the forehead and the seventh atop the head Kundalini In Hindu literature kundalini is described as a very powerful form of psycho spiritual energy that is coiled at the base of the spine According to yogic understanding when awakened through the disciplines of yoga this energy uncoils and moves up through the spinal canal piercing the ascending energy centers chakras and eventually entering the brain Great energy insight and bliss are said to accompany the experience of kundalini when it reaches the crowning energy center in the brain This process is poorly documented among Christian contemplatives and saints They were not working with the same categories of interpretation that grew out of the Hindu culture and spiritual experience and their own categories may not have been as serviceable Philip St Romain author of Kundalini Energy and Christian Spirituality New York Crossroad 1991 writes There is nothing in Christian teaching comparable to the Hindu notions of chakras astral body and kundalini energy Neither will one find in Christianity anything like the spiritualities associated with the yoga system which are designed to lead one up through the various centers of the experience of union Nevertheless the chakras the astral body and the awakening of kundalini are experiences that can be identified in the experiences of many many Christian mystics Philip St Romain St Romain continues to explain that some Christian mystics have manifested bodily transformations that correspond to the release of intense energy similar to the phenomena reported for kundalini manifestations Some examples St Macarius St Peter Alcantara and St Rose of Lima went for long periods without sleep St Philip Neri St Francis de Sales St Charles Borromeo and St John Vianney had experiences of inner light or mystical aureoles auras of light around their bodies which were sometimes visible to other people St Therese of Lisieux experienced spontaneous bodily contortions and St Teresa of Avila the temporary paralysis of limbs The list could go on St Veronica Giuliani and St Pio of Pietrelcina had stigmata and intense ecstasies St John of the Cross mentions bodily heat phenomena bone dislocations sexual arousal all in the context of how to deal with these concerns in the course of the spiritual journey to transformative union St Maria Maddalena de Pazzi describes a flame like experience that follows the sequence of events of Christ s passion transforming her body over a period of time her body is still incorrupt The fact that such phenomena actually exist and can be described would tend to support the traditional yogic claims that kundalini is a

    Original URL path: http://www.christianspracticingyoga.com/kundalini-chakras-and-auras/ (2016-04-26)
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  • What is Christian Meditation? — Christians Practicing Yoga
    23 Jesus invitation is to abide in him his promise is that he will abide in us 15 4 Paul s letters refer to the mystery of Christ hidden throughout the ages which is Christ in you Col 1 27 The form of prayer referred to by the term meditation is based upon the conviction that in addition to the mind and imagination with which we ordinarily communicate with God we are endowed with what the Christian tradition calls a mystical heart a faculty which makes it possible for us to be aware of the Presence within to grasp and intuit God s presence and being though in a dark manner apart from all images and concepts which necessarily distort God s reality In most of us this heart lies dormant and undeveloped If it were to be awakened it would be constantly straining toward God The Christian monastic tradition developed a progressive way of awakening this mystical heart and coming to an experiential awareness of God This process of unfolding encompasses the four kinds of prayer oral mental affective contemplative In this process we see where contemplative prayer enters into the Christian experience of God We generally learn how to pray with memorized prayers or hymns said or sung aloud oral prayer Then as our capacity to reason develops we engage our minds more fully in prayer through analysis or reflection such as in reading and reflecting on a passage of scripture mental prayer Our thoughts by and large stir the heart with emergent feelings of gratitude fear sorrow or joy which we express to God affective prayer When the heart has poured itself out silence grows between the words and we simply sit in the silence resting in God s presence and open to God s love contemplative prayer In this resting in God there is an awareness that God is not only close or present but is intimately present within us as the source of our being Faith is the free consent to God in me The life of faith is a conscious communion with that Presence The core experience of the Christian life is a heart to heart relationship with the person of Christ and the indwelling Trinity who have come to make their home in us In the words of twentieth century spiritual writer Thomas Merton contemplation is not so much a way to find God as a way of resting in the One whom we have found Coming to this awareness of the indwelling Divine Presence is the birthright of all Christians the natural development of the grace of baptism It is that communion with the Divine which is the longing of our hearts Three Schools of Meditative Practice In the early 1970s the increasing number of people from North America and Western Europe who were turning to Eastern forms of meditation served as a wake up call to western Christian monastics to take a fresh look at the resources available in their own

    Original URL path: http://www.christianspracticingyoga.com/christian-mediation/ (2016-04-26)
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  • What does chanting OM mean? — Christians Practicing Yoga
    is India s supreme mantra the most sacred sound the pranava It comes from the most ancient Vedic times More than any particular name of the Divinity in Hinduism it conveys the ineffability and the depths of the divine Mystery It bears no special distinct meaning as do the names for example of Shiva and Rama It does not even recall any mythological or semi historical event It is a kind of inarticulate exclamation uttered when one is confronted with the Presence within and around oneself The most frequent explanation of it is that it is formed of three elements the vowel A combined with U to make O and prolonged with a nasal after sound M It is therefore said to symbolize all possible triads in place and time the past the present and the future as well as what is beyond all triads because God is in everything and yet is beyond everything Sometimes a fourth element is added silence So while there is a direct analogue in Christian practice for this kind of prayer it follows that OM is not a chant to be used lightly or simply because it s cool or what people do in yoga classes Out of respect for the unique status of this word in the yogic tradition a teacher deciding to use it would do well to do some catechesis around the word and the apophatic expression of Christian prayer to enable the Christian participants to see how their own spiritual tradition also recognizes what OM is intended to express Since OM comes near to the utmost limit of what can be uttered or heard it is considered better fitted than any other sound to express the bankruptcy of word and thought when the mind is directly presented with the ineffable mystery of God The contemplative or apophatic way of negation tradition of Christian prayer is based on the same premise that there are no words or images or concepts which can ultimately capture the reality of who and what God is This is what Psalm 46 witnesses to when it says Be still and know that I am God The kataphatic way of affirmation tradition of Christian prayer places its stress upon what we can know about God as manifested in Jesus These two pathways of praying both have their place It is not either or but both and Yes God s self was revealed in Jesus but Jesus life circumscribed as it was by the limitations of a historic time and place and culture and life span by no means exhausted all there is to know about God In view of this there is a very long tradition of monologistic literally one word prayer in Christian spirituality and it flows precisely out of the experience of God as ineffable Mystery Thus Christians have historically prayed with a short word or phrase in recognition that ultimately all words and concepts break apart and fall short of capturing the full reality

    Original URL path: http://www.christianspracticingyoga.com/meaning-of-om/ (2016-04-26)
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  • Additional Reading — Christians Practicing Yoga
    intellectual and spiritual to move forward as a whole human being and become what one is a disciple of Jesus Christ Yoga for Integral Health and Growth by Swami Devaprasad Bangalore NBCLC 1998 The author a Roman Catholic priest from Kerala and now living in Northern Manitoba writes from years of experience as a practitioner of yoga and a member from time to time in ashrams A good introduction to the various limbs of yoga with a fair amount of detail including photos of asana Valuable for any beginner useful for more experienced practitioners Pathways to Liberation An Essay on Yoga Christian Dialogue By Pearl Drego New Delhi The Grail 1974 A lovely book by a Christian Indian woman exploring asana psychology philosophy and Scripture A dialogue between Christianity and Yoga Out of print but if you can track down a copy it is a gem Yoga in Christianity By Albrecht Frenz Madras Christian Literature Society 1986 A short pamphlet by a Lutheran pastor A sympathetic constructive introduction to complementary insights in Christianity and yoga Includes a brief review of a number of German mystics including Eckehart whose insights are similar to the cosmic spirituality of India Body Mind and Spirit to Harmony through Meditation by Louis Hughes Mystic CT Twenty Third Publications 1991 Focuses on 8 keys to Christian meditation rest breath body place sound rhythm simplicity wholeness The chapter on body presents yoga postures Also includes short presentations on breathing methods and chakras Yoga and Christian Thought By B C M Mascharenas Bombay Society of Saint Paul 1973 A good introduction to yoga that locates it within the larger context of Hindu thought and practice The author considers points of convergence and divergence between Christianity and yoga Less emphasis on asana than on philosophical matters and meditation practice Yoga and the Jesus Prayer Tradition An Experiment in Faith By Thomas Matus Preface by Bede Griffiths Ramsey N J Paulist Press 1984 Matus a Camaldolese Monk examines the relation between tantric yoga and hesychasm by comparing the experiences of St Symeon the New Theologian and Abhinavagupta A remarkable blend of scholarship and personal experience Yoga and Prayer By Michaëlle London Search Press 1980 First published in French Les Editions du Cerf 1977 Michaëlle a disciple of Jean Déchanet provides an overview of Yoga asanas pranayama diet etc She offers a series of prayers and meditations that may be linked to asanas Attractive line drawings by a Poor Clare Hatha Yoga et Croissance de l homme en occident Paris Les Editions du Cerf 1979 Annotation forthcoming Christianity and Yoga A Meeting of Mystical Paths By Justin O Brien London New York Penguin Books Arkana 1989 Many fine insights into connections between the yoga tradition s and Christianity including a chapter on the Beatitudes His musings on gnostic Christianity and his possibly adoptionist Christology will mitigate the book s value to more traditional Christians An Invitation to Christian Yoga By Nancy Roth Seabury Books 2005 Originally published as A New Christian

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  • Why "Discern"? — Christians Practicing Yoga
    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 Discern Why Discern Is yoga right for me Can yoga help a Christian pray Chanting Kundalini Energy Reincarnation Why do we have a section called discern Renee Prymus We use discernment in our lives all the time which food to eat which route to take to work which movies to watch which church to attend Using discernment about the yoga you practice is part of the process If you were to move to my city and ask for a church suggestion I would first ask you a number of questions Are you looking for a particular denomination Do you like big churches or small churches Who are some of the pastors that you enjoy listening to What kind of music etc When friends ask me for yoga recommendations I ask similar questions what do you want from yoga If you want exercise and want to sweat you ll want to look for a Power Yoga or Bikram Yoga class If you want to work up to tricky poses try an

    Original URL path: http://www.christianspracticingyoga.com/why-discern/ (2016-04-26)
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  • Is yoga right for me? — Christians Practicing Yoga
    it s likely that you already know there is no shortage of writers cautioning Christians about the practice of yoga It s true that when we evaluate a spiritual practice there s a need for discrimination discernment and sometimes rejection Guided by our faith traditions we are called to discern what is edifying and beneficial to our relationship with Christ family and the community We are Christians of all walks of life who have found profound benefit in going to God the way God came to us in and through the body As practitioners who have come to terms with the controversy we know that there is a lot to think about here and we offer practical advice as you consider this practice We are now living in a global village and people from other cultures and religions are our neighbors There are two very different approaches available to us adversarial or mutual enrichment In the adversarial approach the focus is on where we re different and the differences are often used to construct fences between us In the mutual enrichment approach the differences are not denied or ignored but the focus is on the gifts we can offer to one another and the things we can learn from one another for the enhancement of our lives Which approach do you choose As you consider beginning or continuing a practice of yoga and or mediation we offer a few questions to help you discern whether these practices are right for you at this time what is your intention in trying this practice What makes a particular practice Christian is not its source but its intent If one s intent in assuming a particular practice is to deepen awareness in Christ then it is Christian If this is not one s intent then even the reading of the New Testament loses its authenticity Intentionality working in tandem with discerning intelligence and freedom is key to the place a practice like yoga might find in one s life and to the contribution it can make are you COOPERATing WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT As Christians we believe only the Holy Spirit can move our hearts and make us free to love as we are called Transformation both inner and outer is the work of God s healing love and grace All we can do is cooperate Are you looking for a magic answer a surefire path to transformation or simply a means to open yourself to Grace What needs to be understood is that it is incumbent on Christians engaging with practices like yoga or zen or tai chi to work with these disciplines in a way that is coherent with Christian faith and to apply to their practice a Christian understanding One of the primary understandings that distinguishes the Christian approach to a spiritual practice or method is that whatever beneficial effects accrue are not due simply to the method or to my persevering effort They are only means Transformation both inner

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  • Can yoga help a Christian pray? — Christians Practicing Yoga
    enrich the life of a Christian or member of any religion by balancing the nervous system and stilling the mind In short yoga creates an environment in the body for meditation Teresa of Avila a 16 th century Spanish mystic speaks in her writings on prayer about the fool in the house the restless mind If you ve ever tried to pray you know what she s talking about If you find something that relieves tension and stress from your body so you can sit quietly in prayer something that helps you focus your attention on your sense of God s presence and hold that focus for a period of time you ve found a very valuable practice That s what many have found in the practice of traditional yoga One of the significant contributions it makes on a spiritual level is that it directly addresses two of the greatest obstacles in prayer the restless mind and the restless body That s part of its attraction for westerners it gives fidgety activists something to do that is actually very peaceful and calming All day long we are absorbing affective charges whether positive or negative They are little packets of energy that lodge in our muscles and tissues and organs And when the cupboard is full it is very difficult for us to relax our body and stabilize our mind Physiologists tell us that the most effective way to unload these charges is through contraction and relaxation of the muscles and deep breathing Obviously there are many ways one can do that a brisk walk a swim riding an exercycle etc But if you re talking about unloading tension and stress from the body through contraction and relaxation of the muscles and deep breathing then hatha yoga is a way par excellence of doing it because that s essentially what it does The word for a posture in yoga is asana which means to be stable still and that applies to both muscular and mental activity Anybody who has ever participated in a session of hatha yoga knows the effect of feeling calmer more grounded and centered So if one of our greatest difficulties in prayer is the restless mind or the fidgety body the stretching and breathing of yoga empties the cupboard of those affective charges and enables one to sit calmly and quietly in meditation In meditating are we leaving our minds open and empty with the result that the devil might enter in This view seriously undervalues the power of intentionality Meditation in the tradition of Christian contemplative prayer calls for the use of a short prayer word or name of God that serves as an anchor for the attention and continually renews one s intention to simply be present to God in loving faith with the whole of one s being Leaving the mind open and empty is not what it s about Our freedom is God s respect for us God does not force or impose

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