My experience with yoga started with a VHS tape in my effort to get back my pre-baby body over 5 years ago when in between pregnancies. As a former dancer, I've always been flexible and thought yoga would be the perfect exercise for me. For the last 2 years, I have been attending a weekly yoga class taught by a friend in my community. What I believed would be a class full of stretching and relieving stress has actually become so much more to me.
Recently, I've become aware of many people expressing concern about the spirituality behind the practice of yoga and questioning whether it is in conflict with Christian or Catholic teachings. For me, yoga has never been a spiritual lesson in the sense the creators might have intended or the detractors allege. It has been a journey; a challenge in a physical, personal and spiritual way.
When I started, I had no idea it would be this physically difficult. But, with that difficulty, has come amazing progress. I have found a strength, both inner and physical, that I never knew I possessed. I've found a willingness to meet that pain head on and keep going, with mostly minimal grumbling.
Yoga, to me, is like life. Challenges may seem difficult or even impossible, but with guidance, perseverance, inner strength and faith, anything is possible. Practicing yoga brings me a sense of calm, quiet, focus and inner peace, in addition to the positive physical effects.
It challenges me to try new adventures and pay close attention to my body and how God made me. It helps me realize that hard work and dedication pay off and yield wonderful results. I am continuously amazed at this body that God created and what he has enabled me to accomplish with it. Of course, there are lots of moments when I simply laugh out loud after twisting up and falling over. But, I try again and sooner or later I make progress toward that strange twisty pose, or being able to stand on my head.
There have been many times during breathing exercises or while holding a difficult pose, I have found myself looking to prayer or offering praise. This conflict in the Christian community over yoga has taken me completely by surprise because for me, yoga feels like a celebration of God's creation.