For some yoga and prayer go well together because they experience yoga as a way to pray with the body, uniting body, mind, and spirit. For others, yoga, with its careful use of breathing and postures, serves to quiet and focus the mind, thus beautifully preparing us for prayer. First United Methodist Church of Oak Ridge, 1350 Oak Ridge Turnpike, will again be offering classes which combine yoga and Christian prayer. The classes will be led by professional yoga instructors and the Rev. Jenny Caughman.
In these classes, we will practice yoga with conscious awareness of God’s constant presence with us. Yoga can be used to open ourselves up to the spirit. In the words of Fr. Thomas Ryan, when practicing yoga “one creates an atmosphere of calm, peace, and silence without and within, establishing a harmony between body and spirit so that nothing hinders the working of grace, the Holy Spirit. The aim is to bring tranquility to one’s mind from anxieties and problems; and to render it available to the Spirit.” This class will seek to make us increasingly open to the Spirit by integrating Christian contemplative prayer with the practice of yoga.
Some people are uncomfortable with yoga as they believe, due to its Eastern roots, that it is not compatible with their faith. Susan Bordenkrcher, in her book “Yoga for Christians,” addresses these concerns, explaining that “yoga is considered a framework or a guideline to direct people toward greater spiritual growth and physical health. Therefore, yogic principles and disciplines can be used in the context of any faith (or none at all).” She goes on to explain that “since yoga is a philosophy and not a religion, it makes no specific statement about a deity, nor does it require students to believe in things such as karma or reincarnation. Yoga is designed to equip students to find the inner meaning of their religion…When practiced within the context of one’s faith, yoga can restore to the student the intimate relationship with God that is at the center of our Christian faith.”
Classes will be offered on Sundays from 5 to 6 p.m. starting September 13 in the church Fellowship Hall. Those new to yoga, as well as those who have been practicing for years, are all welcome. Please bring your own mat as we have only a small number of extras. While there is no charge for the classes, an offering will be taken up. After the yoga instructors have been paid, any additional money will be given to Habitat for Humanity. For more information, visit www.fumcor.org, call the church at (865) 483-4357, or contact Jenny Caughman at [email protected]. Come experience the physical and spiritual benefits of yoga and prayer!
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