I’ve taken yoga twice. It was in Cambridge, Massachusetts and was what is known as “hot yoga.” It was kind of like Dante’s tenth circle except I had to pay for it and there were candles. The heat was turned up to 100, all the lights were turned off and occasionally an instructor would come by to see what noise I would make if someone pulled my shoulder blades out of the socket.
The second time, one attendee almost got into a fight with another over “Yoga Mat Placement.” (Turns out 67% of yoga fights are YMP related.)
Neither experience was all that peaceful and whatever expectation I had of yoga wasn’t really met. I guess I thought it would be kind of like laying down on a fluffy bed and pillow fighting with clouds while birds fluttered gently above my head whistling a muzak version of Bobby McFerrin’s song, “Don’t worry be happy.”
A family friend had a completely different experience but got the same mixed result when she tried yoga. After months of taking yoga at a gym owned by a Christian and taking yoga lessons from a Christian, a new instructor substitute taught the class. My friend, ever inquisitive, asked what the poses meant. The substitute instructor, a hardcore yoga fan, told her that yoga positions were based on different positions of reverence. Guessing that the positions of reverence were not designed to show some love to sweet baby Jesus, my friend felt a little uneasy.
But what is yoga? Is it just fancy stretching? Surely God isn’t against stretching. I can’t imagine Him in heaven frowning down at marathon runners as they limber up. I’ve only taken two yoga classes so I can’t help but claim ignorance on this subject. Fortunately I have access to the internet and everything online is true, so we should be able to figure this out by just searching google twice. (Two google searches plus one substitute yoga teacher’s opinion constitutes a deeply analytical study of a subject, right?)
According to the abc-of-yoga.com, “The word ‘Yoga’ came from the Sanskrit word ‘yuj’ which means ‘to unite or integrate.’ Yoga then is about the union of a person’s own consciousness and the universal consciousness.”
But then I googled “Christian Yoga” and found out about something called “Scripture Yoga” on the site ChristianYoga.com:
“Scripture Yoga is a form of Christian yoga with Biblical scripture verses recited during the stretches and postures. The scriptures are based on themes like Peace, Angels and Prayer.”
Now I’m just confused. Are we for yoga or against yoga? Should we put it in the category my friend’s parents put martial arts in when she was a kid, “better safe than sorry” or figure out a way to sweat and stretch and quote scripture at the same time?
The answer my friends? Like so many other things in life, I feel this debate (which makes me want to use all our popular Christian words like “relevant” and “postmodern” and “marketplace”) can be answered with one simple word:
Let’s play Frisbee. I’m pretty sure God loves that sport. And its origins link back to people that threw empty pie tins from the Frisbie Baking Company. So at the very worst, you’re paying homage to pie throwing which is practically a staple of any good youth group. No risk. All awesome. And dogs can be taught to catch them. It’s win-win-win as they say on the Office.