Cultivating Quiet: My Love for Yoga

I first discovered yoga when I was pregnant with Bella 5 years ago. I did a few yoga DVD's and really enjoyed it. And then, I promptly forgot about it. Fast forward to our tour. I became very interested in it again...mostly because it was something that I could do in a small space and with very little equipment. I sought out a few yoga studios along the way and attended my FIRST "real" yoga class while we were in Georgia. I also took a class with Dayna Gelinas, who has a the only Christian yoga instructor course in the country. When I was pregnant with Lucy, I did yoga DVD's and attended prenatal yoga classes as often as I could and even attended a prenatal yoga instructor training when we were in Denver.  I felt SO good during my pregnancy when I was keeping up with my yoga practice...especially in the 3rd trimester.

Yoga is more than just a class you take at the gym or studio. Yoga, for me, is a way to bring more QUIET into my life. Quiet in my mind. Quiet in my body. It helps me to focus my attention on things that really matter to me...namely, God and family. Doing yoga can be very worshipful...I try to focus my thoughts toward God as I stretch and breathe. I might repeat scripture out loud or simply find a word that becomes a mantra (i.e. "Holy" or "Provider") and saying it with each breathe. I enjoy playing some music quietly and/or burning some incense as well. I love the way the mat feels under my feet and how the world seems to melt away (assuming that I am practicing early in the morning or late at night...without Bella climbing on me during it!). Speaking of kids, yoga is a great way for them to connect with their body and calm down. Bella will often lay down in child's pose when she needs some quiet time and it helps her to re-focus.

Although I started out with DVD's, I've recently started doing my own yoga instead of following along on a DVD or even going to a studio. I found that I really enjoyed being able to hold the postures longer and doing the postures that I enjoyed, instead of what someone else thought would be beneficial. I also really like Yoga Today, and did their sessions regularly at home before we went on the road. If you've never been to a studio, you might like trying their free class online. There are certain instructors I like better than others on there, so don't give up if you don't like your first class :) I paid for the subscription service and really enjoyed being able to choose what style of class I was in the mood for that day.

If you've wanted to try yoga, but haven't known where to start...I would recommend learning the Sun Salutation series and get really good at that before moving on. You can watch a quick instructional video on YouTube here and a more in depth video here. The sun salutation is a great way to jump start your day...repeat it 5-6 times and you'll be feelin' happy! :) There are several different types of yoga...each with their own twist. Each type tends to overlap into the others...here is a good explanation of them all. I think everyone who is interested in yoga should try at least one studio class...it's SO HELPFUL to have someone who can help you with postures in a hands-on way and offer advice on pushing yourself a little farther. I also love the sense of community in a class as well...especially in the prenatal classes.

Over the years I've gotten many questions about how yoga jives with following Jesus. I'm not into debating about it, because everyone has their own opinion about it and most of the time they've already made up their mind :) I can only base my opinion on my own experiences and I've found that yoga hasn't hindered my faith at all...but has instead, strengthened it.

However, I am aware that the "yoga culture" is steeped in New Age philosophy and many people practicing yoga are followers of Eastern religions. This can scare some Christians away from yoga. Everyone has to decide for themselves after doing their OWN research, not just going on what they've heard from friends, etc.   I keep a watchful eye on anything in a class that isn't Biblical...you won't find me chanting the names of Hindu gods and I tend to stay away from teachers who "lead" a little too much in classes. Yoga has become so mainstream now, that it's not difficult to find a teacher that focuses more on the postures than the spiritual side of things.

All in all, I am SO thankful to have found yoga. It's been such a blessing for me and I love it! I am so much more aware of my body and my breath when I am actively practicing and I miss it when I go too long without it.

Here are some of my yoga faves:

Websites: YogaGlo...a super yummy site and you can do it all from the comfort of your home!

DVD's: I don't own any non-pregnancy yoga DVD's, but I really like Sean Corne and Shiva Rea. My favorite prenatal DVD was Jennifer Wolfe's Prenatal Yoga and Shiva Rea's Prenatal Yoga.

Books: Hatha Yoga IllustratedMy Daddy is a Pretzel Yoga for Dummies

Gear: My Manduka Mat (in moss) Mat Bag (moss green/duffle style) Bolster (so awesome for tight backs)Eye Pillow (I love this thing!) Blocks/Straps from Gaiam