To be a well-informed yogi, it’s important to recognize how yoga grew from a spiritual environment that included scriptural components, ethics, a devotional aspect, and a governing religious goal. Anyone who has been to India, the seedbed of yoga, quickly notices its spirituality is deeply embedded in the cultural fabric, one could accurately call India’s spirituality its fascia holding everything together.
In my trips there, I noticed the country’s intense spiritual nature and I remembered something I had read from the American Author Flannery O’Connor when she wrote of the American South. “It’s not ghost-haunted,” she wrote, “but Christ-haunted.” India is spiritually haunted too, but it’s a spiritual haunting I’d identify as complex and inclusive, not bad or scary. Christ is there, and so are Krishna, Allah, and Buddha. It’s a pan-en-theist culture, which I will write of later. Christian Spirituality and Religion
I’m a former clergy of the Lutheran Church in America. I’ve been keenly aware of spirit, and it’s part of the reason my first trip to India happened when I was 22 years old. I went there as leader of a music and ministry team on a four-month tour sponsored by members of the Lutheran churches in the United States and Canada. For many years afterward, ministry was my career, and I was employed by the church as a clergy and worked in campus ministry.
Campus pastors are well-versed in the Christian faith and its theology, but also current events, and other religions. Campuses are highly diverse settings, populated by intelligent people from all corners of the Earth; therefore, if I as a campus chaplain and voice of social conscience were to engage this population meaningfully and with integrity I needed a thorough understanding of religions and world events, geopolitics, science, art, history, and its biases. Most of all, I needed empathy so I could dialogue with people over their interests, beliefs, and cultural histories.
PART I Yoga and Christian Spirituality: communicating the core of similarities vs. aggravating divisions
Part II Yoga and Christian Spirituality Within Their Creation Narratives
In both Christian and yogic traditions, a divinity emerges from primordial dark and emptiness – or a watery void – and gets to work creating light and dark, establishing time, and creating living beings. Most creation stories start with God creating the human, but others do not. Following the establishment of beings, good and evil are introduced, animals are created, and the world is set in order. The sociological questions that arise in any group of people: questions of where I am, who is in charge, and who else is here, are answered in creation stories.
Similarities abound between the Christian narrative in Genesis from the Old Testament (what some call the prime covenant) and the stories of Judaism and Islam. But when Indigenous North American creation myths are included, like the Salina Creation Story, an (Eagle) makes a man and from that a woman. In a modern poetic and literary contribution, Joy Harjo from the Muskoke Nation tells the story of a lonely rabbit who created a man, and then blew air into its mouth, upon which the created man stood up. Breath as the genesis of creation across many creation narratives is one reason why I call yoga a “breathcentric” practice.
But the Divine-human connection in yogic and Christian spiritualities is an elusive subject because the “hidden God” (Deus absconditus) is not physically manifested. This is not the same as false, but divine essence remains elusive. To believe then is an act of faith.
Creation and Breath in Yoga Spirituality
In Western Christian spirituality, the creator is called God and in yogic creation narratives one can choose from a creator with different names and attributes (Vishnu, Brahman, Prajapaati); but the similarity is that they all form something out of nothing or being out of non-being.
Inn some Eastern Indian creation stories, even before Brahman’s work of creating light or beings, the primordial vibration OM existed. OM is intoned by ancient and contemporary yogis and is sounded out as AHH-O-UM; it is the vibrational form of creation for this and all other universes.
In yoga chant, the vibrations and sounds of OM are intimately connected to yoga spirituality, and in effect, yoga spirituality holds that pranayama (vital life management in the breath) connects personal reality to the ultimate pre-existing reality in OM. This grounds the yogi’s breath to the cosmos as it was present even before creation.
Yogis hear a vocalized physical exhale (loud or soft) when the sound of air is pushed through the vocal diaphragm according to the position of the glottis and the force of the diaphragm. When a sound is added to this air, the yogi creates OM as a song that sings itself in time, into, and through all existence. OM is the primordial essence, and it lives in the yogi; OM has no language, no chorus, no time, no season, and no ending.
OM is beyond the yogi and all existence and at the same time within the yogi. David, one of my brilliant instructors says, “Your breath is your guru,” and he is correct on existential levels and the essential level. OM as breath is the sound of stars rushing across the sky, the sound of a bird chick cracking forth from its shell, the sound of wind, the sound of rain, the sound of galaxies, or the yogi’s breath in the exhale of their yoga song. In breath, in OM, yogis simultaneously exist as eternal and present; human and divine, cosmic and materially manifest.
Mircea Eliade summarizes this loaded idea of the cosmic eternal and the material present in the yogi, “In yoga . . . metaphysics becomes soteriology.” It means that when the yogi intones OM they are actualizing their salvation while simultaneously participating in the primordial creation.
Most yogis do not practice yoga for the grand reason of attaining salvation, but their breath – and the vibration of OM – is not just biology and oxygen for the body; additionally, it is the key to yogic consciousness, yogic connection to creation, and the shape of life here and now. Yoga’s focus on breath is a major part of its spirituality and is the yogi’s connection to everything. Breath is the most regular function of the body; inhaling is how yogis come into this world (creation) and exhaling is how they leave this world (relinquishment).
The middle pause (madhya) is the place of balance here and now – where yogis exist between the beginning and the end. Breath (the vital life force) is intimately linked to spirit, mind, and body. As yogis practice pranayama (breath), meditation, and asana, they are fully the divine creation here and now. This is everything for the yogi, a spirituality connected to creation by the means of breath.
The word calm is not adequate to describe the physiological, psychological, and mental benefits happening with breath practice, but will suffice to describe the mental and emotional effects produced when all yoga aspects work together (postures, meditations, pranayama, directives for living and breathing).
Eminent yoga teacher, B.K.S. Iyengar wrote of his mission as a yoga teacher in Light on Life: The Yoga Journey to Wholeness, Inner Peace, and Ultimate Freedom, “I teach spiritual practice in action.” His teaching helped others adapt to difficult postures much the way physical therapy works in our clinics today, but this teaching went beyond physical therapy as he spoke of the yogi’s intention. “By intention . . . not for ego or to impress but for the Self and to move closer to God. In this way, asana is a sacred offering.”
Asana is a sacred offering, yes, but it’s also a sacred receiving. A yoga spirituality unpacks the meaning of self-realization by linking the experience of conscious breath with creation and other aspects of yoga. The yogi’s breath is their guru; it is in the yogi, and it has been there from before the beginning and will continue to the end and beyond.
Creation and Breath in Christian Spirituality
In the Christian story, God puts breath into something that is created in God’s image, and this comes to life. Reflection on the idea of God seeing its own image (imago Dei) is a profound thought in and of itself. To even think this means that the human is participating in the same consciousness that God had when God created.
In a yoga room, yogis see their image in a mirror. Is this God’s consciousness? Yes, for it is what God saw before the act of creation (if we accept the simile in assigning a physical human attribute – like the ability to see – to God). Consciousness, or self-awareness, a vital component of yogic spirituality, is not so important for Christian spirituality. A conscience, by way of contrast, is highly important.
In the Christian creation story, breath is known in Hebrew as ruah. In Sanskrit, the word for breath is prana, and breath is pneuma in Greek. Pneuma is a word used in stories from the New Testament when the spirit of God moves into humans. It’s easy to speak aloud all these words ending with aahh and to hear the same sound as in a deep exhale. The ah, in exhale, is intimately connected to OM, sounded out as AHH-UM-M, the sound of creation.
In the creation of Genesis, there was no pre-existing OM or vibrational world. “In the beginning, God created the heaven and the Earth. And the Earth was without form and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep,” Genesis 1.
In contrast to Eastern creation myths, Genesis puts the human as the last creation and Christian spirituality handles breath in creation by connecting it to the (Holy) Spirit which makes the human a new being in Christ. While it’s not a direct language connection, the crucifixion narrative from the Gospel of Luke states that after Jesus had committed his spirit to God, “he breathed his last.” It’s worth noting that the Greek verb pneusen is used and means to blow or breathe as the wind.
The breath is intimately connected to the creation of a human in the Christian creation narrative from the Old Testament, but this close essential connection between breath and creation becomes obfuscated in New Testament writings when the breath is moved into the realm of spirit. Spirit is seen as positive and flesh is not seen in the same way, so Christian spirituality loses its intimate connective link to body and breath as part of its spirituality, rather the Christian’s new being in Christ is the place of emphasis for spirituality.
New Testament writings have been boxed in by this dualistic framework and the antagonism of opposites. Certain words like flesh (sarx) and spirit (pneuma) are examples of this duality and they are loaded, unfortunately, with moral notions of good and bad. Yoga attempts to find the balance of polarities in the West even as it faces the limiting cultural materialism of material v spiritual.
SummaryBoth yoga and Christian spiritualities emphasize the act of creation in concert with the giving of breath. Christian spirituality after creation includes guidelines from The 10 Commandments, The Beatitudes, The Golden Rule, and the expression of love as the New Covenant. Christian spirituality is lived by faith and connected to the community by the good news of the Gospel. It is focused on moral conscience but does not have a corresponding physical practice or breath practice and the physical self is involved only to the degree that the Christian is the hands and feet of the Gospel on Earth here and now.
Yoga spirituality – post-creation – is directed by many of the same moral precepts in its yamas and niyamas. It does not hold the same value for faith that Christian spirituality does; rather, its focus passes on to the consciousness of life in the now which is developed by awareness of their dharma discovered in practice.
References: Eliade, Mircea. 1968. Yoga Immortality and Freedom. 2nd ed. Princeton University Press, Princeton, New Jersey: W.W. Norton & Co.
Harjo, Joy. 2019. When the Light of the World Was Subdued Our Song Came Through. W.W. Norton & Co.
Iyengar, BKS. 2005. Light on Life: The Yoga Journey to Wholeness, Inner Peace, and Ultimate Freedom.
Part III Love as the Core of Spirituality
There is a close similarity between Christian and yoga spirituality in their most important spiritual aspect; it transforms everything, and this is love (see the July print issue of OM Yoga Magazine, “Yoga’s symphony of movement: The soulful urge to let love fall”). This is not part of a typical yoga class, but love is the dynamic ingredient to spiritual life in both yogic and Christian manifestations.
At a yoga festival this summer, following a session by world-renowned musician Krishna Das, I bought Flow of Grace. I asked him to autograph my copy, and he signed in all capital letters, “ALL LOVE” KD. Love is what yoga, chant, meditation, community, self-care, and spiritual encounters repeatedly put in our laps. The power of yoga is that it simultaneously teaches and offers a path to discover self-love and divine love.
Das’ two-word inscription left me thinking of an experience 44 years ago in India when a philosopher asked me, “Does love love the lover of love, or does love bow to the lover of love?”
The question is parabolic and instructive, but the answer, like a riddle, is elusive. Love is an ever-changing river; one we all navigate. During a lifetime we may flounder and drift in that river, and sometimes sail freely and joyously with its current. It’s the river of experience, a river that returns us to its source many times . . . only to begin again.
Yoga spirituality, love bows to the lover of love
After 44 years of working on the riddle posed to me in India. My answer: Yoga bows to the lover of love. It’s embodied by hands folded at the heart center with a gentle intonation of OM or namaste. The forward bow is the yogi’s sacred asana, a giving and receiving in an incarnational movement of truth force. The bow is a yogi’s response of love and gratefulness for life, for other people, for self, for the river, and it’s a bow to themselves for their radiant inner divinity.
The question arises, what if someone cannot physically bow forward? The answer is that the body is layers of divinity, emotion, intellect, consciousness, and physical attributes. If a physical bow is also spiritual (I believe it is) it’s true also that a mental intention to bow forward is also physical. The body is an interconnected mass of energy (yogis called these koshas), which is at once and always completing the cellular body, the energy body, and the spiritual body. While the yogi moves their physical self in asana, the physical move starts somewhere inside and that is the place from which both the able and not able bow.
A bow is a sacred asana and ignition of spiritual alchemy that animates the soul. It’s an internal liturgy of consequence, and like all asana, a giving and receiving in the flow of opposites. Over time, yoga creates space for the yogi to become an empty vessel and teaches yogis to release that which they no longer need. They receive love in the space opened by practice. It’s what Bhava Ram calls “extending the range.” When yogis release their stranglehold on the well-known, they extend their range and experience love. Yoga teachers often speak of love for self; it is the motherlode of self-realization and both the object and vehicle for grace.
How this works
In most yoga studios, during the practice of asana, yogis use a mirror for safe alignment. When we look in the mirror, we see an image of ourselves. This is the image of God (see part II), as it is the imprint of God’s divine creation in you. You are a manifestation of God consciousness and love right in front of yourself in the image you see. Grace is incarnated, and to it the yogi bows, which is an act of love for self. It’s different for everyone because the blueprint of yoga’s transformation is tailored by each yogi’s heart, body, mind, and spirit.
If you must name this divine essence, say God, or Brahman, Budha, Allah, Jesus, Oversoul, Elohim, or some other choice. The bottom line is that this essence is within, and it is the source. It’s like the Christian doctrine of Trinity, and the work of its three aspects forming One union (see part I).
I think of the yogi as a fluid body and everything surrounding them is a flowing ocean and running river. It’s as if the body needs replenishing, so the yogi bows forward in love and happens to catch a droplet of water on their tongue only to find that they are drenched by a waterfall. Yoga spirituality is like a nonsensical equation: subtract to add, let go to gather, let love bow, descend to ascend.
Yogis practice not because they must, but because they enjoy a mind, body, and spirit, event that is physical, visceral, spiritual, and emotional. They embody an internalized liturgy of love which positions yogis to receive all the love they can hold. Out of it, they create a life of love and grace that they learn to enjoy.
Christian spirituality, love loves the lover of love
The cornerstone of Christian spirituality is that by faith, love loves the lover of love. Like the yogi and their journey, the Christian’s apprehension of love unfolds in unforeseen, sometimes unspectacular, and unexpected ways.
A yoga teacher once told me how yoga helped her see the Christian faith at a new and deeper level than she ever saw while growing up in the church. At the end of her practice in savasana pose, settled into a deep state of relaxation and peace, a realization came upon her, and she said to herself, “There is nobody on Earth I would not die for right now.”
In that moment, she said she experienced in her body not just Christ written of in scripture, but a very real manifestation of God’s love – taking place in her on the yoga mat – through an unexpected and unforeseen experience of the One who did die for others. And while she is not active in Christian faith communities, her perspective was opened through yoga.
Delivering the love of God in Christ to the world is at the heart of Christian spirituality, faith, and mission. How to do this is subject to variation and leads to varying strands and extremities in both Christian and yoga spiritualities. At the basic level, Christian spirituality is guided by a set of ethical principles that look very much like yogic principles: don’t steal, lie, cheat, act on impulse, or be greedy. These ethics can be summarized by the universal edicts to not harm others and do good. It’s simple, it only gets complicated when someone harms another in the community.
Christian spirituality is the devotional act of loving the lover of love. Loving the lover of love is sufficiently fulfilled in a private relationship to God; and for Christian spirituality, nothing else is required. Loving the lover of love is built on belief and faith in the God of Creation, God of Christ, and God of the spirit. But from this posture, the Christians express their love for God by prayer, worship, and service.
In both traditions, some devotees or disciples will drive themselves to prove their devotion or to achieve worthiness by working to obliterate sin (what yogis call avidya) within themselves or sacrifice to achieve another level of self-development – even punishing themselves with self-flagellations and denials of an extreme nature. But a Christian spirituality that’s built on the love of God as filled in the New Covenant, means that the old rules about extreme laws for behavior or diet or practice are obsolete. This is the New Covenant, the promise God made in Christ to the Christian and the response by the Christian to love the lover of love. Christians will act on love first and in all things.
How this works
The most important way to love the lover of love is to live the faith by forgiving enemies (which means everyone), executing acts of charity and goodwill, and sharing the story of God’s love (the incarnation of Jesus and crucifixion of the Christ) for humanity. There are other aspects of faith in works of love too (social justice, self-development, nurturing community, worship, prayer, sacramental liturgy), but loving God is foremost.
When Christians embody their faith and the faith of Christ within, they live out the Gospel of love which creates a new being and motivates them to be the hands and feet of love in everything they do. Christian spirituality is an extension of the Christ on Earth which means in the Christian, the New Covenant of love moves forward into the world.
“Prayers are where the people of God fight,” one of my teachers said. Some will pray for rain and others will pray for sunny weather; some will pray for peace; others will pray for retribution. Take any issue, some will pray for it and others will pray against it. This is where Christian spirituality is tested.
- Prayers are important for both listening and expressing the full self before God.
- Liturgy is important for externalizing and ritualizing devotion.
- Executing charity, justice, and goodwill is important for serving God’s mission on Earth. All of this is important, but it is penultimate for Christian spirituality.
The New Covenant of Love is the wellspring of Christianity’s grace-filled river and the ultimate in Christian identity and spirituality, but its also true that Christian spirituality does not talk much about love for self; the orthodoxy and practice of love is directed outward to neighbor and enemy. Love by faith is Christian spirituality in this answer: love loves the lover of love.
Both yoga and Christian spirituality take us back to the river’s source as the place to start the journey. In both loving and bowing, spirituality sets the compass by the river’s rhythm and gives directions for the journey downriver. They are simple, “ALL LOVE.”
References: Das, Krishna. The Flow of Grace: Chanting the Hanuman Chalisa, entering into the presence of the powerful, compassionate being known as Hanuman. San Rafael, California.: Mandala Publishing, 2019.
Ram, Bava. Deep Yoga: Ancient Wisdom for Modern Times. Twin Lakes, Wisconsin. Lotus Press, 2007.
Part IV Shavasana (death) a Gateway to Yoga as Spiritual Path
After high school at 17, rather than immediately going to the university, I decided to work for a year to prepare myself. I found a job at a furniture store in my hometown where I thought I would deliver furniture, sell furniture, and take care of stock in the warehouse. It did include all of that, but when I was asked to help lift corpses from a table and into a casket, the job turned out to be much more.
In the early days of this country, the furniture maker was the logical person to turn to when a loved one died and the family needed a well-constructed wooden box. In the 19th Century, caskets were wood and since furniture makers worked with wood they were called upon. It’s easy to see how furniture makers became trusted with handling specific requirements of the casket, and from there, not hard to imagine conversations about the deceased spilling over into a pastoral care-type situation. It’s also not difficult to imagine these furniture builders doubling up on their businesses and offering funeral services. This is why so many furniture stores doubled as funeral homes.
Seldom thinking about death as a teenager and with no preparation for handling dead bodies, I was thrust into a situation where I touched the hands and lifted the bodies of deceased people. It freaked me out a little bit. In time, I became comfortable around dead bodies, and one time before a funeral, even drove the Goodrich Funeral Home’s Hearst to the car wash with a casket and body in the back. And while I did look back at the casket through the mirror a few times, hoping nobody was playing a joke on me, the ride was uneventful.
This early experience made me think of death more than I needed to, and it activated my energetic and existential teenage brain. This background experience has also influenced my thinking of yoga’s corpse pose (shavasana) as a way into spiritual life.
Finding a Door into the Spiritual Practice of Yoga
Death is an uncomfortable fact that will not go away. Ground this in your mind; we will all be corpses one day. Death is the final note in everyone’s song and the universal closure of our Earthly experience; an experience ending with an exhale, a bookend to the first breath we took as a new creation in a living body.
The door to see yoga as a spiritual life is the Shavasana pose. Shava=corpse + asana=posture. In shavasana, yogis take a few moments to willingly suspend participation in life, energy, and the flow of movement. As a corpse, the yogi is metaphorically dead and no longer fired by the force of prana or the vital intelligence of body/mind/spirit.
Breath is the only thing keeping a yogi alive in the shavasana pose. A diaphragm lifting the chest up and down is all that separates a living yogi from the corpses I once lifted into caskets, and when the yogi genuinely thinks of this, they realize the precious and complex biological explosions involved in each breath in and out. This reality, hitting close to home, jump-starts the yogi’s gratefulness for life and opens the door to a spiritual attitude of receptivity.
In shavasana, the yogi is not lying prostrate on their face in a willing and energetic act of full-bodied prayer; rather, the yogi does nothing but remain flat on their back in a complete release of the cares implicit in all duality and suffering. The yogis of old believed that shavasana pose allowed for the balancing of all bodily systems, all ayurvedic doshas, all prana vayus, and all chakras. It is one of the few poses that does this. There are a few techniques to assist in flattening the spine on the floor so that the yogi gently and fully releases into stillness and does nothing:
- Gentle engagement of the bandhas, slight lift of hips, lowering vertebra one at a time creating length along the spinal column
- Legs extended long, hip-width apart, feet turning naturally outward — flat back, remove anterior tilt of pelvis
- Shoulders drawn away from ears, palms rotated upward resting on the floor next to the hips all to facilitate softening of shoulders and body
- Chin tucked slightly to lengthen neck allowing neck to fully rest on the ground
- Release body weight, soften extremities and internal tensions, and breathe in ease
- Soften eyes by imagining space between eyelids and eyes
- Focus on breath, release cares, still the monkey mind
In the 3rd installment of this series (Love), I wrote of how a moment in savasana opened an experienced yogi to a better understanding of the faith in which she was raised. In other writings, I’ve revealed that a single-word mantra guides my moments of savasana, and I am convinced that in the silence of these moments, something happens to us that comes from another place.
This something has been called a spiritual awakening, a quickening of soul, an encounter with oversoul or the transcendent, or even a second birth. Up from shavasana, after our metaphorical death where we have posed as non-moving corpses, we are born anew. This is the yoga answer to Nicodemus. Yes, a person can be born anew.
John Paul Satre once wrote that nobody could disbelieve enough to truly be an atheist. The corollary follows; nobody can believe enough to be a true believer. But if we believe as if God is in us — and it is true — then we are one with God and we can live as if God is in us.
Shavasana, the Perfect Yoga Pose
It is perfect in its simplicity and efficacy. The goal of shav asana is to lie on your back and not move. Asana is interpreted as a pose in movement, but shav means non-movement. It’s true, a corpse does not move. Shavasana is easy, but it’s difficult for American people who tend to be driven beyond what is healthy and find it hard to rest.
I’ve been around corpses from early on, and none of them took a breath; none jumped up and back into life. We can, and we do, but to find a moment in shavasana where we live as if dead is the doorway to deepening our awareness of life and the meaning of spiritual life in yoga. Shavasana is an embodied rebirth, a believed new life at the level to which we can believe.
A spiritual awakening or connection does not happen every time in shavasana it may never happen. It’s also true that some yogis experience their death on a spiritual dimension every time they go into shavasana. Shavasana, like all yoga poses, is exceedingly simple but immensely difficult.
Yoga as a Spiritual Practice
Oral tradition holds that at its inception yoga was the incorporation of five or six sitting postures as a way for the priestly classes to strengthen their bodies so they would be more fit for serious meditative disciplines. That was yoga’s reason for being. Yoga’s physical practice was dedicated to strengthening the yogi for spirituality. Yoga goals today are much different.
In this series, I’ve built on yoga as spiritual life by integrating yoga with being and creation, life and breath, love and service, and now death and life. I’ve tried to open up the notion of yoga as an ipso facto spiritual practice because I believe that yoga is not just an appendage to a spiritual practice; rather, yoga is itself a spiritual practice. To the eye, it doesn’t look like yoga is a spiritual practice, but when we embody yoga in our breath, it starts everything.
I’ve pointed to shavasana as a door apropos to both the Christian and yogic spiritual inheritance. This door opening to the spiritual is not just a mental construct on which the intellectually rigorous can hang their hats, but an embodied and universal experience found directly in the fact of our death. Yoga gives us a way to experience death now — even for a few minutes — and through savasana pose yoga’s shavasana offers a doorway to spiritual practice, a doorway to life anew, and an answer to Nicodemus, just another one of us.
Part V Conclusion to Yoga Spirituality: See how yoga is: Surrender, Faith, Spirit, Sacrament, Ecclesia, Missiology, and Anointment
Yoga is an entirely spiritual life practice. In the previous four installments, I’ve drawn comparisons between Christian spirituality and yoga Spirituality. Now with this precis, or summary, the language makes my interpretations very clear. Read on for the seven points I use to define Yoga as a spiritual practice. The words are entirely individual and cosmic in their intent and reach.
SURRENDER can define yoga spirituality; most know it as a release.
The yogi starts class with gentle release, surrendering into trust. This opens the heart’s core where a ritual process opens the yogi to enter a state of true presence.
It’s unnecessary to seek out yoga’s popularity, location, or direction because the answer to the question of yoga is the same today as it was for Patanjali. Yoga is in you and it moves within you as far as you let it. Yoga asana, most of what the majority of yogis know as yoga, is built on the principle of embodiment. Embodiment means putting it into your body, and when the yogi does this it often leads to transformation.
FAITH can define yoga spirituality; most know it as trust.
The yogi comes home to their breath-centric core where they kiss the soul to receive their full inheritance.
In relinquishment, the yogi learns to open their heart and settle into the most important moment – – the one they live. This grounding in the present is conscious contact which opens one to engage the reality of their life. Surrendering into the moment, the yogi experiences their life without a filter. It is associative living, not escapist. The move to trust is a lived symbolism, for the yogi simultaneously participates in their life while pointing beyond it.
SPIRIT can define yoga spirituality; most know it as breath.
Asana and pranayama bring the yogi to a sacramental remembering of self. This transforms both the seen and the seer.
At the center point, breath is the building of consciousness. In heightened consciousness, jettisoning old scripts, the yogi constructs a personal story of renewal formed by inspiration. They learn their healing treasure is at the end of a long journey.
SACRAMENT can define yoga spirituality; most know it as embodiment.
A path to community opens with understanding sacrament as full participation in life.
Yoga’s alchemy, formed by movement and breath, is an anamnesis connecting action and memory. The yogi lives into a sacramental dimension of existence by remembering – in each moment – their being-ness as both immanent and transcendent.
ECCLESIA can define yoga spirituality; most know it as COMMUNITY.
A path to community opens with the relinquishment of armor in a shared experience.
Inside the yogi, an awakened center is tutored in self-love and love for others. When vital energy and passion are shared, the body (individual and corporate), fed by pranayama, finds there are no hierarchies. Qualifications for worthiness are tossed out the window. There are no ranks, systems, or bureaucracies in yoga practice. The yogi joins as a witness to one common identity – which points back to an intimate connection with all.
MISSIOLOGY can define yoga spirituality; most know it as practice.
The target of yoga’s missiology is the self.
In the yoga container, at the confluence of yogi, guru, and healing practice, a drop of sweat takes one to self and self to God. The yogi – a vessel devoid of armor and ego – incarnates a healing curriculum in a generative engagement translated to a focused biology of belief and concomitant mind/body/spirit reshaping.
ANOINTMENT can define yoga spirituality; most know it as healing.
Shavasana is space and time for the yogi to experience an anointing into true self and true nature in its natural healing form.
Yoga’s internal work (heat of tapas) teaches the yogi compassion for self; in savasana’s moments of rest, the yogi is anointed (bathed) in yoga’s healing tradition. This is not a cosmetic makeover, but a weaving together of a timeless process that synthesizes everything up to that moment in a deep affirmation of life itself. By a second but deeper release into savasana, yoga’s physical, non-physical, and metaphysical medicine works its therapeutic on the human.