Yoga Chapel :: Part 4 | The Community
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Yoga Chapel :: Part 4

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. Part 3 explored the ways in which we might connect the dots between Christian Faith and yoga practice.

This final part the interview gets right down to the inspiration behind Yoga Chapel, and the ways in which it might connect with youth and young adults.

What inspired yoga chapel?

I first began to dream up the idea of Yoga Chapel when yoga started to become a regular part of my lifestyle, while I was entrenched in the study of theology. I loved what I was learning in all of my graduate courses, but was constantly thinking about how these academics could be translated to life on the ground. A few years later, I was in church when the minister asked us to turn to our neighbor and talk about where we’d go to be spiritually nurtured if we weren’t at church. I said that I’d be in a yoga class, and started to dream even more about how much I’d personally love to participate in a yoga class that incorporated Christian reflection within it. Since it didn’t exist to my knowledge, I decided to create it.

How is it different from practicing yoga at any other studio?
A Christian meditation based on a scripture passage is woven throughout each Yoga Chapel session. Typically, everyone gathers and lies in savasana (lying meditation pose). The scripture for that day is read, followed by a short reflection based on that passage. This reflection gives us the theme for the class, which we then move to with the yoga practice. I am trained in a variety of styles, including hatha, vinyasa, yin and prenatal, which informs our asana (pose) sequences. The class ends with 5 minutes in savasana, and then a final closing reflection. If the students are comfortable with it, we can even chant and sing prayer. I may offer weekly drop-in classes in the future at one set location, but for now I enjoy teaching series that participants have to pre-register for. For example, I recently led a 4-week series on Lent, a 7-week series on the Creation Story and I’m preparing to offer a 5-week series on the Parables. I find that meeting with the same group of people over a certain period of time gives us the opportunity to form more of a community bond, which makes everything better.

Where does yoga chapel take place? Do you take it on the road, or does it happen in one particular location? What kinds of spaces do you prefer to use?

Yoga Chapel is a mobile ministry – we go wherever people want to host us. I partner with any churches that are interested in offering a series in their chapel or sanctuary (or in the sanctuary of the outdoors!). All they have to do is contact me, and we can make it happen. It is such a gift to practice in these beautiful spaces. I am also asked to come to conferences, festivals and special events to offer workshops. Yoga Chapel’s next workshop will be at the Creative World Arts & Justice Festival in Mission, BC next month (August).

How do you see yoga chapel connecting with youth and young adults? Do you think it can play a role in faith formation?

Absolutely, yes! Connecting with youth and young adults has always been at the forefront of my mind and heart. For those who may or may not engage with traditional church services, I really do hope that Yoga Chapel can offer them the space to experience Christian community and the incredible stories of this tradition in a way that truly speaks to them. There is so much wisdom, inspiration, humor and conviction that unfolds through the Hebrew Scriptures and the New Testament, and the hope is for Yoga Chapel to be a new channel through which people can encounter the depth of what the Christian tradition is all about.

Hope to see you on the mat – Thank you!

*b

About Andrew Stephens-Rennie

Andrew is an Anglican lay leader who loves pioneering responsive, contextual solutions to the challenge of being church in the 21st Century. He serves as an assistant to the rector for Evangelism and Christian Formation at Christ Church Cathedral Vancouver and is a founding member of the emerging St. Brigids community (www.stbrigid.ca).
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