Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Is Yoga a Religion?

I am a Christian and I find that some Christians feel hesitant to involve themselves in Yoga. Here are some questions I have been asked.

1. Is Yoga a religion? 
Yoga is an ancient path which may be older than any religious belief. A few religions have adopted the pathways of yoga including meditation, asana, or movement, and breath observation. 
2. What does Yoga mean?
The word yoga has been translated from a sanskrit word which means to bind or "yoke" together. Yoga is a verb, which you do when you yoke the body, mind and spirit together.

                                                             3. Is yoga exercise?
                                             Yoga is movement synchronized with the breath.
                                                            4. Do I have to be flexible to do Yoga?
      Yoga may help you become flexible but any body can benefit from yoga providing you protect yourself by using movement that feels good. Props to aid tight muscles help to find ease in each movement.
5. Do I have to be able to sit on the floor?
No, a chair can offer support and you can have the same benefits from using it as a prop.
6. Will I have to chant during a class?
Some teachers use an opening "OM" to start class together. Actually, the vibrations caused by vocalizing the sound of "OM" are very healthful and wake the body. No one, in my experience, has made me feel like I have to do everything in class. And I have never encountered religious symbols or relics in any class I have taken.
7. Why does everyone say "Namaste" at the end of class?
Namaste in sanskrit means "the spirit in me honors the spirit in you". I feel the truth of those words in my belief system.

8. I don't have a perfect body, will I fit in?
We do tend to compare ourselves against each other and we are all vulnerable about our bodies. I won't lie and say that I have never felt too big to do yoga but the benefits far out way any embarrassment I have felt. I do yoga alongside skinny young things, men with really inflexible limbs, and older people who make me want to be like them when I grow up. I have done yoga on a cruise ship in Alaska, in a farm town in Wyoming and in several studios on the Island. We have some of the best instructors right here at home.
9. What is the most important benefit you have experiences from Yoga?
Yoga has helped me appreciate and honor the body I have. What would my Heavenly Father say if I told him thanks for this body but I don't really like it and would rather have a different one.
The prophet Joseph Smith taught new truth about the importance of gaining a body in mortality.

"The Prophet Joseph Smith taught, "All beings who have bodies have power over those who have not. So every living soul who has a physical body ultimately has power over the adversary. You suffer temptations because of your physical nature, but you also have power over him and his angels."

In a recent address to youth, Elder Packer said,

"We need our bodies because it is through the body we receive revelations.
 Perhaps the single greatest thing I learned from reading the Book of Mormon is that the voice of the Spirit comes as a feeling rather than a sound. You will learn, as I have learned, to "listen" for that voice that is felt rather than heard."

I have finally learned to hear my body. For years I felt only two physical messages, pain or no pain. I lived in my head. But yoga has helped me learn to hear my body and give it what it needs. I still ignore it sometimes but I am much better than before.
Yoga has helped me feel the spirit more sensitively.

 "Some critics have said that these verses are in error because you hear words; you do not feel them. But if you know anything at all about spiritual communication, you know that the best word to describe what takes place is the word feeling."

So, I recommend yoga to anyone and hope I can encourage others to try it and see if it "does a body good"

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