Column: Reconciling yoga and Christianity

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Commentary by Dr. Sally Browon Bassett

When I began practicing yoga on a regular basis in the ’90s, I questioned if this was a conflict with my Christian beliefs. Yoga is not a religion, but in time I realized the yoga process, or The Eight Limbs of Yoga, takes you closer to a Higher Source, whatever that is for each person.

Even though most Westerners view yoga as a physical practice, the actual point is to unite oneself with God. The physical practice (Limb 3 of 8) prepares you for withdrawing from the senses, going inward to focus and pray, and eventually meditating and being with God.

In prayer we talk to God, and in meditation we listen to God. Not to offend any Christian traditions, but I have found we do not listen enough. Is it really so hard to find time to truly experience God through this often overwhelming concept called meditation? We go to church to praise God but are we really taking the time to feel His presence?

Yoga means the union of the mind, body and spirit. By getting on the yoga mat on a regular basis, I immediately feel myself experience a sense of peace and a spiritual connection. When I follow the 8 Limbs of Yoga, it takes me to an even deeper level.

In the book The Wisdoms of Jesus and the Yoga Siddhas by Marshall Govindan, it was “revealed that recent research by independent scholars has uncovered many details about what Jesus taught, which when compared to the teachings of classical yoga, indicates close similarities both in what he practiced, and what he realized.”

With that all said, I hope you will consider yoga as a way to draw closer to God.

Dr. Sally Brown Bassett is a yogi, social entrepreneur and world traveler. She is the founder and president of Peace through Yoga Foundation, where she leads trips to Costa Rica several times a year and works at the foundations’ International Center for Peace. Sally teaches at Peace through Yoga and Butler University. She can be reached at sally.bassett@peacethroughyoga.com.

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