Why Yoga

As of May 8th, 2015, I have completed my 225 hour certification program to become a Registered Holy Yoga Instructor (R-HYI). The journey to this moment is many years long, winding and God-led. Allow me to share. Holy Yoga Logo

In 2009 I began exploring the blog world and happened upon the writings of a girl named Mandy {originally called shebreathesdeeply, now writing at mandyreidyoga.com}. She was about my age, married, loved Jesus, and was always talking about this Holy Yoga thing. I began corresponding with Mandy via email, asking her some questions about yoga and the Holy Yoga ministry in particular. Before long I had ordered two of their instructional DVDs, and I was hooked. As I learned the physical practice of yoga, I began discovering the Truth in this accent physical exercise. Many Christians struggle with yoga, believing it can only be rooted in Eastern Mysticism, using our bodies to worship self or earth. I believe yoga is just a tool, as money is a tool. Both can be used for good or used for evil.

In the time I began spending on my mat, I was experiencing worship and intimacy with Jesus Christ in a whole new way. Not only was I praying and centering my spirit and mind on the Holy One, I was engaging my whole body in worship. Spirit. Soul. Body. This resonated with Jesus’ words from Mark 12:30 –

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.

For the next many years, I continued practicing yoga in the privacy of my living room, either with my two Holy Yoga DVDs or with my own flows and worship songs. I learned about the Instructor Training program and I thought to myself, “I would love to do that!” For the next few years, the desire stopped there. I couldn’t convince myself to spend the money, nor did I believe my community was ready for something this spiritually “edgy.”

This past January I took a risk and invited the people of our church to join me in a Saturday morning Holy Yoga practice. I used my HolyYogaTV.com subscription to guide us through a gentle flow, the whole time wondering what people were thinking of this new fangled idea. That first Saturday, we had eight people show up, age 17 to 75, of all physical abilities. And it. was. AWESOME. Everyone loved it and couldn’t wait until next time.

And just like that, God gave me a big booming, “YES!” My community needed this. They were ready. Holy Yoga would be a means of drawing our congregation and our town together. It would allow us to become physically vulnerable and honest with one another, to struggle alongside, and forge the way to be spiritually and emotionally transparent. We would learn how to experience the grace of God through physical activity (and inactivity; shout out to shavasana) and in worship. I went home and signed up for the 225 Hour Program.

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The next nine weeks were spent pouring over Scripture, reading material like Eugene Peterson’s Eat This Book and spending the first half of the weekly two hour webinars in Bible Study. The leadership team at H0ly Yoga insists on our foundation in Christ and the Word. Each class must begin with a Scripture meditation and devotional (or mini-sermon). Each class must incorporate worship music, songs and lyrics to focus on praising God and relishing in His goodness.

Additionally, I spent an hour each Tuesday in a Guided Prayer small group, via a group phone call service. We were taught the practice of Lectio Divina and spent time at the end of the call sharing our personal reflections or God-inspirations from the Scripture Passage. It was deep and raw and intimate.

The second half of our nine-week training module focused on the practical aspects of yoga, teaching us the postures, along with detailed physical anatomy. For every pose we received repetitive teaching, including two books with pictures, our manual with additional directives, and then a verbal instruction from our trainer online. Repetition is the key to memorization.

Finally, all 140 of us traveled to Arizona (Lost Canyon: a Young Life Camp) for a six day retreat intensive. Here we received in-person demonstrations of poses and were given opportunities to work on the postures and teach each other step by step. The word “retreat” was slightly misleading. Our schedule started at 5:30am every morning (with a guided prayer and meditation), and was booked every subsequent hour of the day through 9:30pm. We had two full yoga classes each day, plus 4-6 hours of classroom instruction. The only time we sat in chairs (and not on the floor of the amphitheater or practicing yoga) was at meal times. I snuck in 20 minute phone calls to my husband when we were given bonus breaks between classes.

It was beautiful. It was intense. It was the most emotional I have been in a year. It broke me. It built me. It was a God-thing.

The community I formed with my small group cabin-meets was absolutely incredible. Those women spoke into my life with God-given prophecy and exhortation. We loved each other instantly, shared honestly, and prayed almost continually. Since Retreat, we have continued communication in group texting. What a gift.

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But I did it! I graduated along with these beautiful souls. I am officially a R-HYI (Registered Holy Yoga Instructor), and am teaching my second class this Saturday morning. I have dreams and plans for what the future of this ministry job might become. I am praying and struggling through doubts and disbelief in my ability and qualification. I am waiting for God’s leading. Training Group

So until I launch the full-fledged Holy Yoga Monroe, I will continue hosting classes each Saturday at 9 in the fellowship hall of Monroe Free Methodist Church ($10 suggested donation). The first Saturday of each month will be a FREE class, perfect to check it out and see if Holy Yoga is right for you. Men and women of all ages and stages are welcome. You say you’re not flexible? Then that’s the perfect reason to come to Holy Yoga. It is a practice, every day our bodies respond differently and every week we see new struggles and new improvements. Let do this together!