Why I Stopped Teaching “Christian” Yoga

I have tried to write numerous times over the last two years. Our family Bible verse is:

Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong. Do everything in love. 1 Corinthians 16:13-14

To those of you reading this, I hope that you know that my words are coming from a place of love. Not from condemnation or malice. I enjoy sharing how God continues to mold and shape me, thanks for reading!

A few years ago I wrote a blog post titled “Does Downward Dog dishonor God?” I tried to address the question “Should Christians practice yoga?” Over the last few years my desire to know God has grown so much that last year I finally disciplined myself to read the Bible in its entirety.

Even before I began reading my Bible something had just continued to feel off over the last several years when I would practice and teach yoga. I would have loved to have stumbled across a blog post like this back when I was looking into teaching Christian yoga. The only reason I ever felt comfortable signing up for my 200 hour yoga certification was because the word “Christian” was in the title.

Before I go further let me give you a brief history on how I became involved in the yoga community and started teaching.

How I Started Teaching Yoga

The summer before I entered college I purchased a yoga DVD from Barnes and Nobles. This was back when I still went to the bookstore and didn’t simply Amazon prime everything to my front door. I used this DVD numerous times and began to also take a few yoga classes at the gym.

I continued to take yoga classes occasionally over the next four years and during my senior year of college the Kinesiology department offered a Movement Analysis Lab focusing on yoga. I was so excited! The instructor was very relatable, and told the class up front that she was a Christian, and used yoga as a way to “connect” with God. I felt like I had hit the jackpot, especially because I had never in all my years at Arizona State University had any of my teachers state they were Christians.

Up until this time I had never viewed yoga as a way to “connect” with God and had only used it as a way to exercise. I had only taken yoga classes at the gym and in 2005 the yoga classes being offered at my gym were strictly posture based.

Fast forward to March of 2007 and I became very, very sick. You can read more about the neurological disorder that paralyzed me from the neck down and my road to recovery was HERE.

On the road to recovery in 2009 I signed up for a Chrisitan Yoga Teacher Training. Since yoga had been one of the tools I had used during my recovery, I really wanted to share its benefits with others and the added bonus of sharing the gospel message at the same time really appealed to me.

That summer I learned all about “Christian” yoga. I was fired up and ready to encourage others to experience God more deeply through the practice of yoga at my church and any other church that would allow me to teach. Each class included scripture reading, a playlist that contained praise/worship songs, low impact movements, and ended with prayer. The only problem was that the churches that I approached with this amazing opportunity, my own church included, did not want to offer Christian Yoga classes.

I was perplexed and if I am being totally honest, slightly offended, about the reaction I received from local churches in my area. I felt equipped to teach yoga in a manner that honored the Lord yet wasn’t able to get my foot in the door to teach at any church.

Since I was having trouble finding my own yoga classes to teach, the Christian yoga studio that I took my training from offered me a few classes on their schedule. From there I continued to branch out and seek out more studios to teach. Over the next 4 years I taught at 8 different studios/gyms, became a certified personal trainer, and began to teach group fitness classes as well.

From 2010 – 2012 I was teaching upwards of twenty classes weekly. At this point I was no longer teaching at the Christian yoga studio. My classes didn’t contain scripture or prayer because they were being offered in a secular setting but my playlist did contain a mix of pop and praise music.

Once my second baby arrived in 2014, I was no longer teaching classes or practicing yoga, and the further removed I became from teaching and practicing the more I began to wonder if I should really be teaching yoga anymore at all.

Why I Stopped Teaching Yoga

My initial intentions of wanting to share Jesus with others were soon replaced with only wanting to stoke my own ego. During my time teaching yoga I took many yoga workshops and classes to help me fine-tune my own teaching ability. I began setting goals for myself that had nothing to do with my initial desire to help others. The more I embedded myself into our local yoga community the more yoga began to shape and form my identity.

Instead of being excited to share my faith I began to become prideful over how full my classes were and that I was actually able to contort my body into some pretty advanced yoga postures. I spent hours of my time in front of my camera taking pictures of myself in these advanced postures to post on social media in order to promote my classes.

I allowed my successes to become an idol and overshadow my Savior. While there isn’t anything wrong with being successful or taking pride in our gifts, our ability to use discernment often gets pushed aside when we elevate things or people to a position that only rightfully belongs to the one true God.

But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ. 2 Corinthians 11:3

Being a “Christian” yoga teacher made me “feel” close to God. But I can’t say that I knew God. Feeling God and knowing God are two completely different things. Even when I was strictly teaching only Christian yoga I based my classes more off what I was feeling as opposed to what I had been studying in God’s word. Because truthfully, back then, the only time I really opened my Bible was to find a scripture that resonated with me for a class.

As a Christian my actions should point others to seek and find an ever deepening relationship with the Lord which is why I am no longer teaching or practicing yoga. Yoga is rooted in Hinduism and as a Christ follower I can no longer in good conscious be associated with teaching something that may cause others to stumble or open up a path to them that leads them away from the saving grace of Christ’s death on the cross.

God gives us all free will. But a Christian must not merely consider what is lawful, but what is expedient, and to edify others.

“I have the right to do anything,” you say–but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”–but not everything is constructive. 1 Corinthians 10:23

What About Christians Teaching/Practicing Only Christian Yoga?

There is no governing authority or church body presiding over Christian yoga or Christian Yoga Teacher Trainings. Even with all the best intentions, without this governing authority, there is no elder board or pastoral staff ensuring that the doctrine is sound and inline with what the Bible teaches.

The ability for new and even mature believers in Christ to be able to discern what is or isn’t biblically based can become much more blurry especially when churches are offering Christian yoga classes. If a person really starts enjoying a Christian yoga class there is a high probability that they will start to seek out other classes. Yoga can, in some regards, become a gateway into many new age practices that the Bible specially warns believers to stay away from. (Leviticus 20:6, Deuteronomy 18: 10-12)

Please know, I am not saying that everyone who practices yoga will participate in these activities but they do become much more accessible.

For someone who is seeking more peace in their life or looking for a greater purpose I can see how these things could become very attractive. For several years I had put so much weight in the fact that because I was a yoga teacher I should have zero stress and not deal with anxiety. When I was suffering with postpartum depression and anxiety I didn’t realize I had elevated my yoga practice to a place where I had actually made it an idol. Instead of seeking out God for comfort and wisdom I was looking at myself to calm my anxiety and overwhelming feelings of sadness and fear.

Recommended Reading: 10 Bible Verses for Anxiety and 10 Ways to Deal with Anxiety

As believers we have to stay alert and be mindful of how our actions can be perceived by others.

Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith. 1 Pet. 5:8-9

We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:5

Even things that are good can distract us away from God. Taking care of our bodies is a good and even a biblically based practice to follow, but we have to be so careful not to let the pursuit of healthy living become an idol.

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will. Romans 12:2

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The 20 Minute Workout: EMOM (Every Minute on the Minute)

**This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links.

If you are limited on time but still want to make an impact with your training time EMOM workouts might be the answer you are looking for.

When it comes to learning a new movement or wanting to improve how you move, you need to practice. The problem with practicing and refining a specific movement during a total body strength day or after an intense cardio session is that your body will be more fatigued. To become efficient at a movement and to ensure that your form and technique are not lacking you need to practice quality repetitions.

Most of us to do not have extra time in the week to devote to our movement patterns when we are already exercising several hours each week. The majority of us, myself included, want to feel like we gave it our all when we workout, dripping with sweat, and like we pushed our  bodies until we had nothing left. The older I get the more I realize how important it is to balance these high intensity sessions with movement specific focus sessions.

If you are looking for an efficient way to add movement training into your week EMOM (Every Minute on the Minute) workouts are a great starting place.

While there are many different ways to do an EMOM (Every Minute on the Minute) workout today I am mainly focusing on 1 movement pattern with very few reps performed each minute.

HOW TO DO AN EMOM WORKOUT

  1. Pick one movement. This movement needs to be a total body movement. Examples – Turkish Get Ups, Pull-Ups, Box Jumps, Pushups, or Burpees.
  2. Pick your total reps. How many reps do you want to do? Start with 20 if it is a new to you movement. Your total reps can be 20, 40, 60, 80, or even 100. It really depends on the movement.
  3. Each minute you perform 1-5 reps of the movement you selected. The goal here is to make sure that the during the minute you are only working for about 15-20 seconds.
  4. Rest during the remaining time. The beauty of these types of workouts is that you are allowing your body ample time to recover so you are never overly fatigued while performing the movement.
  5. Repeat for 20 minutes.

BENEFITS OF AN EMOM WORKOUT 

  • You don’t have to think about the workout. You can focus on form and technique. The pace is set for you by using the clock.
  • EMOMs are super versatile. You can program these with many different exercises. Keep reading for examples.
  • Built in rest. You should be resting more than you are working during an EMOM workout. If you can keep the movement to 15 seconds to perform all your reps for the minute you are looking at a rest to work ratio of 3:1. This is a very good ratio. The recovery will allow to complete your next set without being fatigued.
  • You will feel it. By focusing all your energy on practicing one movement not only will you become more efficient but you will also be feeling your effort within the next day.
  • Did I mention it is only 20 minutes?!?

EXAMPLES OF EMOM WORKOUTS

Like I mentioned earlier there are so many ways you can do an EMOM workout. Below are 6 examples of different 20 minute EMOMs.

20 Minute EMOM (Every Minute on the Minute) Workouts

It wasn’t until a few months ago that I was able to do a pull-up. I followed a 12 week strength training program and was super consistent with my workouts. I am still working on building up strength and working on my form. When I perform pull-ups in an EMOM workout I try to do as many as I can without assistance. When my form starts slacking or I can’t get my body up I use thick resistance loop bands to assist me. I just wanted to share that in case pull-ups are challenging for you also.

To time these workouts I like to use either the Seconds Pro App on my iPhone or my Gymboss.

Get creative with EMOMs. These are just examples and are by far not the only way to do these. Have fun working on a more balanced and stronger body!

PS…In case you are looking for some new workout gear check out the Reebok One Series Tights. I love these pants! I wear them at least twice a week. I also have worn my ASICS Women Gel Fit Sana Cross Training Shoe for every workout I have done since I received them in the mail last Fall. This shoes fit like a sock and are so light! Hands down my most favorite shoe. EVER.

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3 Biblical Reasons to Take Care of Your Body

What motivates you to take care of your body? Here are 3 biblical reasons to take care of your body that personally motivate me. Fitness, just like anything, can become an idol if you allow it. By shaping your worldview around what the bible says,taking care of your body can be another act of worship.

3 Biblical Reasons to Take Care of Your Body

TAKING CARE OF OUR BODIES GLORIFIES GOD.

So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. -1 Cor 10:31

God created your body. He wants you to take care of it. Illness, disease, and death are going to happen. No one, not even Christians are immune to it. It doesn’t matter if you tithe your 10%, give a little extra, serve in a ministry, and honor your spouse. Life happens, everyday, all the time. There is only so much we can do to take care of the bodies we have.

Self care is a discipline. It takes dedication, time, and effort to grocery shop, cook healthy meals, and workout. Just like reading the bible, praying, and tithing are considered spiritual disciplines, the process of taking care of your body to glorify God is also a spiritual act. More on this also in the next section.

JESUS DIED SO YOU COULD LIVE.

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. -Romans 12:1

This reason is super important so don’t miss it. Your life has a purpose (Jer. 29:11). It is easy to go through seasons of our lives on autopilot missing all the good God has placed around us. I am totally guilty of this. Any other moms to little ones agree? I can become so consumed in my own little world that I miss opportunities that I could have been used by God to bless another person.

God is whispering to us all the time. It is a matter of deciding who we will pay attention to. God’s whispers or the enemy’s lies. I have battled with anxiety and can happily say that God has given me the power to overcome my anxious thoughts by leaning on Him and being in His word daily. Read my post 10 Bible Verses for Anxiety. Doing this wasn’t easy and it took time, prayer, and effort on my part to say NO to lies I was hearing and to start allowing God’s truths to permeate my life. By listening to the enemy’s lies I was not being able to live out my purpose for God, instead I was in a place of constant fear.

By taking care of our earthly body we have the potential to be God’s hands and feet here on earth. Our spiritual, physical, and mental health need to be aspects of self care that we evaluate on a regular basis. Exercise for the purpose of maintaining the health God has given you is not vain. It is one of the ways we can show God, and be a witness to others, that we care enough about the body we have. By keeping God at the center of everything we do, even exercising and at meal times, we are ensuring that our bodies do not become a stumbling block for us but another way to give glory back to God.

Make no mistake about this. Living an unhealthy lifestyle has the high probability of ensuring you less time with your loved ones and less time to make an impact for Christ to others.

THE BODY IS GOD’S TEMPLE.

Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies. -1 Corinthians 19:20

The Holy Spirit lives in you. Our bodies are a gift from God and do not belong to us. As Christians we need to realize that our bodies are on loan to us until heaven. If a friend loaned me an item that they greatly valued, they would expect me to return it to them in the same condition. They would be hurt and disappointed if I returned it to them destroyed. Shouldn’t we as Christ followers view our bodies with the same care and respect we would for a friends treasured belonging?

With social media and fitness magazines constantly blasting us with before and after pictures and telling us about the latest diet craze it can be challenging at times to remember that taking care of your body needs to remain rooted in God. NOT what the media says. If we rely on the quick fixes of this world we miss out on the power that comes from asking God to give us the spirit of self-control (Galatians 5:22-23).

Today is the perfect day to start making healthy changes. Start small and don’t try to do everything all at once. Get out for a walk everyday, drink more water, up your veggie intake, or eat your meals at home. And just to clarify, eating meals at home means cooking the meals, not ordering in ;). Small daily changes over time can add up to huge health benefits a year from now. Most importantly remember this about your body…

God created. Jesus died for it. The Spirit lives in it. So we better take care of it. -Pastor Rick Warren

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