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Christian yoga: Too much of a stretch?

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Yoga: Hindu implant or useful import? Christians don’t agree on the answer. But there is a coterie of believers who try to merge the two, and their case in Christians Practicing Yoga is about as good as it gets.

“Christians connect instinctively with an embodied spiritual practice that inclines toward deeper prayer,” the homepage says. “It is embedded in our spiritual DNA to go to God the way God came to us — in and through the body.”

The site offers a variety of approaches. There’s the ancient devotional method called Lectio Divina. Contributor Lori Smith suggests chanting, a practice it shares with Christianity — and with Sufism and native American religions.

Writer Bernadette Latin goes into satisfying, lucid detail about yogic values, such as Brahmacharya (moderation) and Ishvara Pranidhana (devotion to God). She draws some parallels between eastern and western beliefs, likening, for instance, the Sanskrit prana (life energy) to the Hebrew ruach (spirit).

Many Bible verses are offered, including Acts 17:28: “In Him we live and move and have our being.” There’s even a mini-directory of schools for face time with practitioners.

Much of the site is rather defensive. Latin, who seems to be the main ideologue, argues that yoga is a mere discipline that has been used by Hindus, Jains and Buddhists, and can be adapted to Christianity as well.

Father Tom Ryan, another site maven, supplies a helpful FAQ file for questions about mantras, Kundalini, and invoking Hindu deities. He even takes the offensive, saying that “incarnational faith” must include actions — not just yoga but benevolence, human rights and social justice.

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Written by Jim Davis

March 8, 2009 at 5:39 am

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