Props

The Lord has made everything for its purpose.

-Proverbs 16:4a, ESV

One of the cool things about practicing yoga is that it doesn’t require a whole lot of gear. You and a pair of stretchy pants are about all that’s required. There are, however, some tools that can make your practice a bit easier, or richer…or both. Here are a few of my favorites.

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Mat. Early in my practice I thought the yoga mat just provided a place to do the yoga. It does, but it also provides grip and cushioning during a session. My first mat was a Gaiam my husband bought me as a gift. It served me well through most of my instructor training. Toward the end I began noticing some slip during power sessions when I’d work up a bit of a sweat. As my instructor retreat approached and I realized my mat would be my seat for a large portion of six days and I’d be practicing for hours each day, I decided to trade up. After days of internet research and consulting other instructors I know personally, I landed on a Manduka PROlite. The PROlite weighs less than the PRO (4lbs compared to the 7.5lbs PRO). This seemed to be a good balance of professional grade and reasonable portability. It required some breaking in, but there are videos on how to speed up the process. The price point may seem a bit daunting until you realize Manduka guarantees it will never wear out. I am extremely happy with this choice!

Blocks. Ever wish you could bring the floor up just a few inches? Yoga blocks are there for you! When working into a deeper version of a certain stretch, or perhaps holding a pose for an extended time, blocks can provide the extra boost or the support you need. I have a pair of Reehut foam blocks. They’re bargain-priced and don’t smell like strange chemicals, plus they come in a variety of fun colors! Eventually I’d like to invest in the Manduka cork blocks. As I’ve infused some pilates into my home practice, I find when trying to balance more body weight on the Reehut foam blocks there’s more give than I’d like. Though I haven’t yet practiced with them, the cork blocks feel more firm.

justyn-warner-529954-unsplashStrap. Straps can deepen your stretches, help you stay in poses for lengthy periods of time with a bit less muscular effort, and even make certain postures more accessible as you develop your practice or work tighter places in your body. The strap I own is also by Reehut. It’s not fancy but it does the trick and because it’s cotton it doesn’t feel like a seatbelt.

There are a few other props I have yet to incorporate into my practice. The next thing I’d like to add once I have a home with a bit more space is a bolster. I think my restorative sessions at home would be that much sweeter. What about you? Do you have props you enjoy using in your practice? Or perhaps one you’d like to try?

Holy Yoga

“…love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and muscle and intelligence…”

Luke 10:27, MSG
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“Isn’t yoga the same as Hinduism?”
“Yoga can’t be separated from Eastern religion.”

“Christians should never practice yoga; it’s anti-God.”

Some Christians have concerns about yoga. It’s understandable; yoga is connected to Hinduism, which is in practice not compatible with Christianity. Let’s spend a few moments examining these anxieties.

Classical techniques of yoga date back more than 5,000 years. The word yoga, a Sanskrit term, means “to join or yoke together” and the practice is meant to bring the body, mind, and spirit into unity. This holistic experience should be attractive to Christian believers; it is how we were originally created before Adam and Eve sinned, introducing brokenness and disintegration into our world. Because yoga was birthed in India and Hindus practice yoga as part of their religion, there is a common misconception that yoga is rooted in Hinduism. In fact the Hindu religion is 3500-4000 years old, which means yoga predates it by at least 1000 years. If the discipline predates Hinduism, it must be able to be separated from Hinduism.

Holy Yoga is the intentional practice of connecting our entire being; body, mind, and spirit with God; the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. With complete reliance on God’s Word and prayer, Holy Yoga invites us to introduce movement into our worship and devotional life. When we focus the intention of our practice toward God and His Word, yoga has the capacity to enhance our personal beliefs and faith and is an excellent modality to bring Luke 10:27 to bear in the lives of those who practice.

Christian friend, who in this universe is powerful enough to exclusively own any particular stance in which we position our bodies? Could some lesser-than-Jehovah spiritual being lay claim to a posture and make it exclusively honoring of themselves regardless of our intention? Of course not. The God who lives in us is greater than he who is in the world (1 John 4:4). 1 Timothy 4 tells us everything created by God is good when consecrated with the Word and prayer. When Christians lay aside the Eastern spirituality of yoga and set our focus on the King of Kings, yoga becomes Holy Yoga, and it is worship whether we are standing tall (mountain pose), sitting cross-legged (simple seated pose), prostrate on the ground (child’s pose), or in some other yoga posture.

So get ready to connect with God in a new, experiential way, honoring your wonderfully created body, finding rest in His presence, gaining freedom from competition and judgement, and encountering God in the present moment. Get ready for Holy Yoga

Holistic Worship

I pray that God, who gives peace, will make you completely holy. And may your spirit, soul, and body be kept healthy and faultless until our Lord Jesus Christ returns.

-1 Thessalonians 5:23, CEV

A friend of mine who attended a session of Holy Yoga 101 recently shared how her time in class affected her both in class and in the days following. As she finished sharing she leaned in and said, “I don’t mean to sound new age-y, but it was a holistic experience.” Here’s the thing: the new age movement should not have the market cornered on holistic practices.

In the beginning, God created our universe to be flawlessly balanced and integrated. Human beings were in perfect relationship with animals, their surroundings, one another, and themselves. There was nothing fragmented, neglected, or disintegrated until sin was introduced by Adam and Eve in Genesis 3. Ever since we have struggled in our own power to correct what we ruined. We know at a cellular level that something is not as it was intended. We long for reintegration and restoration. The good news is that Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection purchased that restoration, and friends…it was holistic.

1 Corinthians 6:19-20 instructs us to glorify God with our body. Mark 12:30 says we must love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. Romans 12:1-2 tells us to present our bodies as living sacrifices and be transformed by the renewing of our minds. I could go on. It’s clear God is concerned with not just our spirits, but with all the parts of our disintegrated-by-sin selves. It seems to me a holistic approach to worship, one that engages our body, mind, and spirit, would be far more common than it presently is in Christian circles.

Holy Yoga is just that: an approach to worship that engages all facets of our being at once. It is an opportunity to offer our bodies to the Lord, to glorify Him through movement, to pour our love out on our Father from our mat, to renew our minds through scripture meditation and worship music, and to trade our racing thoughts for quietness. My hope is to introduce this community to this experiential form of worship and watch as it facilities stronger faith, restful minds, and restored believers.

Would you join me? Information on current classes can be found here.

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The Journey Begins

Not too long ago my amazing husband took me out to coffee to dream together. I was looking forward to completing my Holy Yoga instructor certification in the following month and uncertain what the next step might be. At that coffee date we began to discuss the tools I’ve collected over the years as well as what makes me come alive. There, the idea for Blue Thistles was born.

Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton

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We began to discuss how I could come alongside people, helping them become more whole, healthy, and plugged in to the life God has given us here on earth. We’re all different, which means various needs requiring a variety of approaches. As time goes on, our desire is to develop multiple services under the Blue Thistles banner of which clients can take advantage, such as:

  • Holy Yoga instruction, both group classes and private,
  • One-on-one coaching,
  • Writing, and eventually,
  • Group facilitation.

Thank you for joining me on the journey. I’m glad you’re here.

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