IN THIS series, I’ve treated yoga as a spiritual life practice and drawn comparisons between Christian and yoga spirituality. But of course, it’s also an individual practice with wide interpretation. Some practice yoga with no spiritual intention or awareness and I also affirm that perspective.
In this series, I’ve maintained yoga is a spiritual practice and I see it as a series of steps: an act of surrender, an act of faith, an act of spirit, an act of sacrament, an act of ecclesia, a missiology, and an act of anointment.
SURRENDER can define yoga spirituality; most know it as a release. The yogi starts class with gentle release, surrendering into trust. This activates 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 a ritual. 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 a community. Practice builds a yoga community where the yogi learns to relinquish protective armor in a safe 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 a community of 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, an 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 a corpse, and then a living corpse (bathed) in breath, the elixir of 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.
For the introduction and the full five-part series see: