I am in the midst of a really interesting conversation about yoga and syncretism. I have been exploring yoga as a way of strengthening my neck and back, as well as introducing some physical exercise into my bookish existence. Tomorrow it will be three weeks of about an hour a day. I'm really impressed, right from the start I could feel the difference. My body felt great, I've had constant body pain for years now, and my mind felt clearer. The first few days I was simply doing yoga for dummies, which is North American mass market yoga. Sure, it has a component of slowing down and becoming more attentive to the self. But really it is devoid of the spiritual references that some expect from yoga. I moved from there to some more mass market yoga routines, finding a nice 1 hour session called I Love My Yoga. Still no spiritual references but I'm already seeing possibilities - and so my searching on the internet turns up some interesting stuff. But just like Christians who have their own takes on everything, so do the yogis have their own takes on yoga. Some tie it in quite strongly to their Hindu meditation. Others capitalize on questionable assumptions about the spirit. But most seem to shy away from the extremes. So just as I shy away from the Christian extremes I think it is safe to stick with the main and plain for our analysis.
About finding potential, well it really came in the closing meditation. This is called Shavasana and consists of laying in the corpse pose and reflecting on the good your session has done to your body and mind. It is about bringing your presence/attention to what is happening in your own body. Something Westerners are not that good at. During Shavasana there is a moment where the instructor on I Love My Yoge encourages you to thank yourself for spending this time on yourself. Well, as soon as I started to think about thankfulness my mind turned to all that God has done and a prayer of thanksgiving was instantly filling my mind. That moment has become a time of grounding prayer for my day. It is when my attention is turned to the Spirit whose temple I have just been preparing, a time when I can say come. It is interesting that after this we return to a seated prayer position and pronounce peace on all around us - namaste (a word that means greeting of peace and a recognition of the light - I see Jesus all over that!) So I'm capturing some of the spirituality of yoga, but appropriating it into a Christian spiritual foundation. The question is: is this legitimate?
I have some thoughts, love to hear yours.