Healthy Body! Healthy Spirit! Questions and Answers
“I have witnessed how illness can impact a family’s life. In his early 50s, my dad started struggling with high cholesterol, diabetes, Parkinson disease, and cerebral infraction. He has died at the age of 64. When he was young, he smoked, drank, and had a lot of stress from his work. In addition, my mom became severely ill when she was in her 40s and 50s. At one point, she could not even walk a 1/4 mile without stopping to rest. As she was not able to do a lot of household chores, I had to help her. That was not fun. She was able to overcome her illness and now she walks 4 to 5 miles every day. After I became a pastor, I learned that being a pastor is one of the highest risk groups in health insurance, which means expensive. Insurance companies said that pastors are one of most unhealthy but live long groups. That scared me. Since then, out of fear, I became a health freak. I want to be responsible with my health. I also like encouraging people to do the same. This is how I became passionate in the ministry of health and wellness.
We owe it to our loved ones, to ourselves, and to God to take care of our body in the best way possible. We should see that our body is a matter of creation and redemption. Our body was made by God, the Father, was purchased back by the blood of God, the Son, after creation and redemption, and is the temple of God, the Holy Spirit. God, the Father, God the Son, and God, the Holy Spirit care about our body. Therefore, our physical bodies are worthy to receive good care. Of course, our body will not last forever. We will get sick at times. We know our body is fragile. However, as long as we are breathing, we should do the best we can. Taking care of our body is a way of respecting God as well as ourselves and our loving ones.
Scientists has proved that meditation reduces stress, improves concentration, encourages a healthy lifestyle, benefits cardiovascular and immune health, increases self-awareness and self-acceptance, increases happiness, and slows aging. Although we often associate meditation with Eastern philosophy, contemplation and silent or centering prayer have been a prominent part of daily Christian life for many centuries, and contemplative orders of nuns and monks are still scattered across the globe.
The Bible tells us to meditate. In Joshua 1:8, God says to meditate on His word day and night so we will obey it. The psalmist says "his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night" (Psalm 1:2). Our thoughts determine our behavior. Meditation in silence helps your mind be calm, focused, and grounded.
Most workout programs and our daily lifestyles are go, go, go, busy and fast. Yoga is different. Yoga gives us time away and helps us focus on movement, mind, and breath. It is time with you and God. Jennie Zach, author of Christian Yoga, says, "One of Christian yoga’s greatest benefits is how it creates an environment for meditation and sets an imperative for deliberate focus and intention of the mind.”
I enjoy practicing yoga because yoga not only improved my strength and flexibility, but also relieved my stress. Coming to my yoga mat gives me peace of mind and calmness in uncomfortable situations. It is also relaxing and energizing, although some movements can be challenging.
As I understand, yoga is not religion, but it can be. Most people practice yoga as an exercise, which can be right. However, I can say yoga creates moving meditation. As a Christian, my meditation is on God and His Words. From my experience, yoga helps me to feel anchored onto “Ground of Being” and helps me be still to feel the presence of God. Yoga will give you time to breathe deeply, as God breathed into you when He created you, and allow you to feel yourself become more alive.
As yoga was developed in pantheistic religion, yoga philosophy does not acknowledge God as the one true God, Creator of heaven and earth, nor acknowledge Christ as the only way of salvation. Although many Christians, especially in the U.S., are practicing yoga as an exercise program, some ideas that are fundamentally incompatible with Christian’s worldview can easily come into yoga practices. There is nothing wrong with bending legs and stretching arms, but the ideas that are attached to those physical practices should be carefully considered. That is why I am not only practicing yoga, but also want to work on establishing a Christian theological understanding of yoga.
For example, in Hindu yoga, some methods of breath control seek to liberate the soul from the constraints of the body which is illusion and union or yoking with Ultimate reality. However, when I, as a Christian, do breathing exercise, I think of God’s breath that was breathed into me when He created me. When I breathe in, I breathe God’s breath. When I breathe out, I praise God for the breath and the life that I have in Him. I believe we should breathe deeply, mindfully, and purposefully because that is the way God designed our bodies to function.
Jennie Zach, author of Christian Yoga, explains very well about theology and method. According to her, Yoga is a method not a theology. Theology defines how the method is used. For example, prayer is common to all religions and even people who profess no faith will admit to praying. Prayer is a method. It is our theology and our faith that employs prayer, defines our prayers as uniquely Christian, and gives meaning and substance to our prayers. But a Buddhist or a Hindu will also pray, so likewise, their theology makes their prayers different than ours. We’ve just examined some of the different theories and theologies that use yoga as a method.
Culture, such as literature, art, music, sports, etc., has religious and philosophical dimensions. When Christians encounter other cultures which originated from different religions, they can be embracing and creative. There are many examples. One of the most beautiful examples is the celebration of Christmas on December 25th.
Christian Yoga class at Wesley UMC provides a safe atmosphere to do yoga in Christian faith. This class is intended to help people practice yoga that is centered onto Christ. It encourages people to be calm, focused, and renewed in the presence of God. Through conscious breathing, movement, and postures, people can appreciate that their body is the temple of the Holy Spirit.
 Zach, Jennie; Chalfant, Courtney (2007-10-20). Christian Yoga: Restoration for Body and Soul - An illustrated Guide to Self-Care (Kindle Locations 629, 636, 668). Hudson House. Kindle Edition.
Yes, you can. One hour of yoga can burn 200-300 calories and boost your metabolism, which helps to lose weight. Honestly, that was why I started. However, you will find that practicing yoga will provide more benefits than just losing weight. Yoga can help you build inner muscle to get stronger and balanced. Through yoga, you can have a stronger core, straighter back, and balanced body posture.
Sure. Various modified motions will be provided in order to accommodate different levels of flexibility and strength. This is not a competition. It is for yourself and your body, which you know best. It is your class. We have class yoga mats with sanitary wipes. Come and try. You will enjoy your time and have fun. If you have a medical concern, please consult your doctor.