I went to a "Faith and Yoga" event this morning at the Newman Center at the Ohio State campus with Father Thomas Ryan. Father Ryan opened his session by saying "today will be a time of prayer, together, in heart and body."
He asked why do people do yoga? Then he mentioned two types of yoga alive today "Contemporary" and Classical." Many people enjoy "Contemporary yoga" as a way to exercize. To stretch and tone their muscles.
However, originally, in the classical form of yoga, people did yoga to help them meditate better. To help them sit quietly in meditation. Yoga was and is used today to settle the mind and relax the body. By doing the asanas - the movements and postures - we release built up tension and we learn to focus the mind on the here an now. So at the end of your asana practice your whole being is ready to focus on meditation and prayer.
Meditation throughout Christian history has used a mantra, a mental instrument, something to anchor the mind. So we use prayer words to focus the mind and then we can pray with faith and with love.
Father Ryan led our large group through a series of warm ups and then taught us postures that can be done to the Lord's Prayer. By doing this we essentially participated in a moving meditation. Praying and focusing our minds on God while we actively worked our bodies. I think Father Ryan is right. Yoga is a way to pray holistically using your mind, heart and body. It truly is a beutiful way to pray.
Have a wonderful week!
Classes at back at CRC