In Yoga Chapel :: Part 1, I shared a bit of background as well as a promotional video for Yoga Chapel. In Yoga Chapel :: Part 2, I began my interview with Bethel where she shared some of her background and what introduced her to Yoga. Here in Part 3, we have the opportunity to see the ways in which she connects the dots between Christian Faith and yoga practice.
Yoga is a very physical practice, yet so much of (western) Christianity is not. How do you understand the role of the body in Christianity? Has that changed as you’ve grown into your own yoga practice?
Until I started practicing yoga, I had no idea how disconnected I was from my body. I had always been an active person, but I definitely prioritized my thinking-self above the wisdom of my body. Growing up a Christian, I was unwittingly fostered to look down upon my body as a stumbling block. Through yoga, I was able to learn how to trust and honor the ways my body literally speaks to me through sensations, pain, bliss and deep intuition. Now, I embrace my embodied humanity as an incredible blessing and I seek to love God and neighbor with every part of me, including my mind, my words, my hands, my heart, my feet…
How might you respond to critiques that Yoga is somehow “not Christian” and should have no place in the church?
I would agree that in its lineage, yoga is not “Christian,” but I would disagree with the idea that it’s “un-Christian” to practice yoga. I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that the people who would make this kind of critique would also likely deem that I am not Christian – and honestly, I’m okay with this possible assessment, because I probably don’t fit their definition of what a “Christian” is. So, while this isn’t something I’m willing to debate (since I believe that the hypothetical person with this critique and I would come from fundamentally different philosophies about faith and religion), it is something I’m willing to have a conversation about on an individual basis. We all have our own evolving beliefs, but my understanding of being “Christian” is to follow after the ways of Christ as best as we can, and I believe this can unfold in beautiful myriad ways.