The Benefits of Christ-Centered Yoga

The Sanskrit word yoga, literally means “yoke”, from a root meaning to join, to unite, or to attach.

Come to me all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.  Matthew 11:28-30

With all of my being, I seek to unite and yoke with Jesus. I desire with all of my heart, all of my strength, and all of my mind to be attached to Him. As Christians, when we accept Jesus to be the Lord of our lives, our Savior and our salvation, we gain the privilege to do so. Holy Yoga helps me to experience this connection on a physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual level.

I have found that my connection with Jesus through yoga has helped me to have a deeper, more meaningful relationship with Him and experience His presence in a holistic manner. In Luke 10:27, Jesus tells us to, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind.” 

I can earnestly say that practicing Holy Yoga has increased my capacity to love and worship Him in every single one of these areas. And in return, these strenghtened areas help to make me a more well-rounded disciple for Christ.

Heart (Intention)

Intention is what we focus on, what we make our focal point. As I step on to my mat to practice yoga, I actually practice my ability to surrender to God and make Him the focal point of my life. With every pose, with every breath, my intention is to worship HIM. In turn, my ability to do this in every day life is strengthened, and my heart is opened towards Him and towards others. It is also a great quiet time for me to allow the Holy Spirit to speak into my heart me and reveal the areas in my life that need to be corrected.

Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me, and know my anxieties; And see if there is any wicked way in me, And lead me in the way everlasting (Psalm 139:23-24).” 

Soul (Emotions)

The dictionary describes emotion as the, “affective state of consciousness.” One of my greatest challenges is to not let my emotions drive my thoughts, behaviors; and not to let my emotions be abundantly affected by circumstance. Studies have shown that in general, practicing yoga helps people increase their positive outlook on life, self-esteem, relaxation, and stress reduction. When we are able to let go of the temporary feelings of this world and of our current situation and bask in the Glory of God, our fleshly emotions start to dim. Taking an hour every day or every few days to let ‘go and let God’ has significantly improved my ability to control my emotions. For a more in depth look on this topic, check out this study:

http://www2.ucsc.edu/counsel/documents/Yoga%20to%20Enhance%20Mood%20and%20Well-Being1.pdf

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus (Phil 4:6-7).”

Strength (Physical)

Most Westerners associate yoga with physical exercise for a reason- it is a GREAT workout! Yoga poses are very toning and elongating, and the focus on the breath work during the postures helps to create an excellent form of release of any toxins in the body. A few of the proven physiological benefits of yoga include improvements in: asthma, respiratory problems, high blood pressure, pain management, back pain, arthritis, and weight reduction. Other than raising my hands in church during worship, I had never before experienced worshiping God through exercise before Holy Yoga. Physical worship is absolutely a spiritual discipline and a powerful one at that. We live in a physical world, and our bodies are God’s temple- so why on earth would we not incorporate this aspect of ourselves in our praise and worship of His majesty?

“Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies. (1 Cor. 6:19-20).”

Mind (Thoughts)

It has been estimated that the human brain produces approximately 70,000 thoughts on an average day. If we are being honest with ourselves, how many of those thoughts are from the world, and how many of those thoughts on centered on God and the Kingdom of Heaven? God is very clear when He instructs us to daily renew our minds in Him. When I listen to the words of God through my Holy Yoga practice and meditate on his truth, I am drawn into a deeper, richer understanding of His love and mercy and my thoughts become more like His. Yoga helps me to harness this mindset of Christ-conciousness in the forefront of my mind, and as a result, I am more clear head and focused, and my thoughts are on things above, not on myself.

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is —his good, pleasing and perfect will. (Romans 12:2)”

I pray for you sweet friends, that the Lord would continue to bless you and be the center of your lives- of your hearts, souls, minds, and strengths. Let Him use you in all ways for His good and perfect will.

Xo,

Marley

Living on Purpose

If you are anything like me, you have spent many hours daydreaming, brainstorming, analyzing, and scrutinizing your so called purpose. For most of us, this comes in the form of a career, or a relationship, or even a lifestyle. We have spent so much time thinking about our interests, our passions, our likes and dislikes, our talents, and tried to determine the best plan of action for our lives, our marriages, our current condition, and our future. While I am all about self-relfection and assessment and being sensitive to let God use my unique talents and abilities, I think we forget to start at step one, and really recognize our primary purpose. On a holistic level of humanity, WHY were we created? (Who is my primary purpose?)

As I began to look into God’s word, I was so encouraged to find the plethora of assurances of God’s purpose. Below are a few key scriptures that really spoke to me in understanding this critical matter:

Proverbs 19:21 (NIV) Many are the plans in a person’s heart,
    but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.

2 Corinthians 5:5 (NIV) Now the one who has fashioned us for this very purpose is God, who has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.

Ephesians 1:11 (AMP) In Him we also were made [God’s] heritage (portion) and we obtained an inheritance; for we had been foreordained (chosen and appointed beforehand) in accordance with His purpose, Who works out everything in agreement with the counsel and design of His [own] will.

Romans 8:28 (NASB) And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.

Friends, our lives are made BY God FOR God. First and foremost, that is our purpose to understand and live out. When we are born again and come under the salvation of Jesus, our purpose becomes to serve Him, to glorify Him. To live for Christ alone is the highest calling we could ever hope for and it is ours for the taking should we decide to make Him the Lord of our life, our purpose in living.

According to dictionary, Purpose is defined as the following:

  • The reason for which something exists or is done, made, used, etc.

(We exist for God)

  • An intended or desired result; end; aim; goal.

(We exist for His plan of salvation)

  • Determination; resoluteness.
(He is sovereign, He is in control. His plan and purpose has BEEN done, is BEING done, and will BE done).
  • The subject in hand; the point at issue.

(We are under His mercy and grace; and praise God for that because I for one, know I am not qualified to earn my own salvation. We are His subjects, He our Father, our Master, our Plan, and our Solution).

  •  Practical result, effect, or advantage: to act to good purpose.
(God’s purpose to save me, and to save YOU cannot be destroyed by the enemy.  He has the victory, And with Him as our Lord, we hold the victory, too!)

As simplistic as this might seem for some of you seasoned Christians, I encourage you to really check in and assess the current condition of you heart, soul, and strength and how it related to this idea of purpose. For some of you, this may simply be a refreshing reminder that God is in control.  We should loosen our grips of tension and fear of the future and let Him lead. For others, this may be a newer concept, a conviction of truly believing our lives are solely for His glory. I assure you, it is true.  Explore the Word, ask God to reveal it to you in the way only He knows best.  I pray He will.

In closing, I want to remind you that while we all have the same purpose in serving God, He DID make us unique for a reason. Once we grasp the truth of our primary purpose, we can freely fly in the calling in our individual lives, and make up the beautiful body of Christ.

Much love,

Marley Crouch

Yoga for Christians?

“Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God — this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is — his good, pleasing and perfect will.” (Romans 12:1-2)

I have been practicing yoga for years and always loved the physical workout and the rejuvenation I felt afterwards, but was uncomfortable with the spiritual intention behind many classes. When I gave my life to Jesus Christ at age 21, after many years of seeking the truth in religion and spirituality, I swore never to bow down to another idol or false religion, and there was no way I was about to let a form of exercise lead me into that direction. Jesus is “the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through [him].” (John 14:16). I hold on to this Word with everything that I am, and make a daily effort to use discernment on whether the things that I do, say, and think are of this world, or of the Kingdom.

When my husband and I first started dating, we went to a yoga class and upon noticing my experience, he suggested that I become a certified instructor. I scoffed at the idea, thinking first of all, I wouldn’t make a great teacher (I can be quite shy); and second of all, I don’t want to encourage what I felt was somewhat against my moral and spiritual beliefs.

Fast forward two years and we are newly married, and living in a new city. God has put on my heart to find my passion, my calling, and serve others for His Kingdom. I spent many months in prayer and quite honestly was frustrated at what I felt was God’s silence.  One day, while online searching for Christian Nutrition courses, I stumbled upon the Holy Yoga website. As I curiously browsed through the site, I was blown away by the possibility of practicing and TEACHING yoga that specifically worships Jesus Christ. The more I learned about this form of yoga, the more of a stirring I felt the Holy Spirit ignite inside of me! All along, I had been looking so diligently to find something that He had spoken through my husband years ago.

The more I spoke with family and friends, the more it confirmed that this was something I HAD to do! Tomorrow marks the beginning of my online training portion of the course, with a week-long retreat to follow in October, and I am so excited for what God has in store! The more I learn about yoga, about worshiping God, and about this Holy Yoga program, the more passionate I become about sharing the love of Jesus with others! As controversial as this topic may be among Christians, I know that when God speaks, we are called to MOVE into action of His direction. To step out in faith. To be bold and unapologetic about our faith and our anointing. Without a shadow of a doubt, I know God is calling me, and is calling YOU to something greater than we can even imagine! As long as we keep our eyes on Him and our hearts open to His guidance, remember God’s promise that, “in all things God works for good of those who love him, who have been called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28).

Thanks for sharing on this journey with me. I pray your eyes will be opened to a whole new way to worship God through body, mind, and Spirit! Until next time, God bless and may His peace and love be with you!

XO,

Marley

Here are a few experts from the book, Holy Yoga, by founder Brooke Boon, that I found really help to explain what this Christ-worshipping form of yoga is truly about:

  • The Holy Yoga experience is a time of Worship, praise, and connection to Christ, practiced to contemporary Christian music. It teaches us to take time to love, nature, accept, heal, and grow in His Word and His Spirit.
  • For something to be Holy, it must be “dedicated or devoted to the service or worship of God, the church, or religion.”
  • While enlightenment traditionally refers to a deep experience of the core of the self, as Christians, we are seeking communion with Christ. This does, of course, entail a more profound knowledge of the self. But awareness is not our final goal: Christ-awareness is!
  • Having an appropriate purpose in the practice of a discipline is what make it holy, or not.