When I started practicing yoga, I thought a little bit about what I perceived to be a conundrum: how could I really pour myself into a yoga practice while still remaining a believing and practicing Christian?
As I deepened my practice, creating my own WTFasana Challenge and attending the Wanderlust Festival in Stratton, Vermont, I realized yoga is not a religion at all. It can be spiritual, sure, and the history of yoga incorporates some Hindu stories, but it also never felt at odds with my personal beliefs. Furthermore, as I learned to tune in on my mat, my attention, reflection, and prayer actually sharpened. In time, I forgot I had ever worried at all.
Early this year I started working for a religious organization and on my first day, human resources had me fill out a questionnaire about my professional background and personal interests. On each of the three lines for my interests, I listed running, reading, and yoga. Later in the day, when my official welcome email was distributed only two of my hobbies were included. Oh my goodness, I thought, in disbelief. They don’t think yoga is Christian. Later, my assumption was more or less confirmed when I heard that there was a group who practiced “spiritual stretching” on Thursday nights after work in one of the conference rooms. Secret yoga, they called it. I love my job and my colleagues, but I passed.
It turns out, I’m not the only one debating the issue. Earlier in the week I received a weekly roundup in my inbox from Mind Body Green featuring a column titled “Just Because I’m Christian Doesn’t Mean I Can’t Practice Yoga“. True that, sistah.