1. Prayer and meditation are totally unrelated.
2. Using SAT logic – Personal prayer is to personal yoga practice as fellowship is to group practice.
3. Wait, they do “prayer hands” in yoga?
4. Peace be with you, and also om shanti.
5. Liturgy in Latin is logical, but speaking in Sanskrit is silly.
6. Catholic Mass’s stand-up-kneel-sit-stand-kneel-sit ritual does not remind me of forward-fold-chaturanga-updog-downdog vinyasa at allllll
7. There are roughly 20,000 Christian saints versus 33 to 330 million (depending on the source) Hindu gods.
8. Jesus said, “I and my Father are one” (John 10:30), but yogis say So ham, ham sa (“That is I and I am that”).
9. The body is your temple (1 Cor 6:19), but in yoga the body is your – oh ok, ya – your temple.
10. Ultimately, for Christians, life is not supposed to be about the one here on earth, but the unending Kingdom of Heaven. For yogis, life is not about this life, but about attaining infinite enlightenment. Thus, as Christians we can live as if in the Kingdom now (Luke 17:21), or as yogis live through knowing that enlightenment is already within us. Moreover, Christians know that our physical life is short and fleeting, yet no less precious because of that brevity; Heaven is where it’s at ‘cause it’s where our souls go after we die. And us yogis, well, we believe our souls transcend our physical bodies and go on living even after we “die,” too.
Bonus #11. Take a look at a rosary and a set of mala beads. Although construction can differ by faith, generally speaking a rosary has 108 “beads” and, well, so do malas.
By now, I hope you sensed the tone of the article and identified my attempt to address this sometimes sticky issue from a framework of open-mindedness and humor. I am a Christian yogini and mean absolutely no disrespect to anyone’s faith or philosophy. I have simply found the similarities I sarcastically described above in Christian faith and yogic practice more and more as I continue to evolve within my personal practice, teach yogi students, and embrace being a life-long student.
During my intensive yoga teacher training in Nosara, Costa Rica, I found that my perception of Christ changed from the beginning of training to the end. I did not believe in Jesus less after reading the Sutras of Patanjali; rather, I believed in Him more, but differently so. My understanding of Jesus, Christ, God, Father, Mother Earth, and Energy was one that grew, deepened, and matured. By investigating Jesus’ life and teachings through a yogic lens, and by comparing Biblical texts and sutras side by side, I discovered elements of my own faith that had lain dormant until that point. It was a gift beyond one I could have ever imagined. And so, my hope is for each of us to follow the path before our feet, and for us to never block the path of others. Let us allow our spirituality to be our own, open our minds, just roll with it, give love, and smile. 🙂
Ultimately we must accept that “there are things you cannot understand, and you must learn to live with this. Not only must you learn to live with this, you must learn to enjoy this.” Donald Miller, contemporary Christian author, from his book Blue Like Jazz.
*written September, 2012
* photo of cross taken November 2009, Bariloche Patagonia Argentina, during my South American extravaganza with my best friend.
* photo of mala beads taken by USAF MSgt Chris Eder, ret, yoga instructor, with Tiger Eye and Amber for focus for me. 🙂
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