Exercise? Christian Yoga – An Oxymoron?

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By Betty Thomason Owens

After a car accident several years ago, I had difficulty regaining my equilibrium and range of motion. Months passed and I wondered if I would ever recover. A chiropractor finally gave me a sheet of stretches and exercises and I began to follow his suggestions. The stretch and work out moves looked familiar. They were yoga routines.

I looked over the materials and found no reference to yoga or Eastern religious practices, so I felt safe doing them. I’d often find a scripture for the day and memorize it while I worked out. Sometimes, I even listened to praise music to help keep my mind properly focused.

Why was I concerned? Because of the history of yoga. If you’ve ever studied yoga and yoga practices, you know the danger. Knowledge sometimes tosses stumbling blocks not only in our way, but in the path of younger Christians as well. I don’t ever want to do anything to hurt someone coming after me.

royalty-free yogastretchBut the truth is, these exercises helped me find my way back from the injuries. Since then, I’ve used them on and off to recover from back sprains and other back injuries. What they do is: relax, stretch, and strengthen muscles, and also improve balance. In the last year or so, I’ve been able to restart my daily walking, because of stretching exercises. In good weather, I walk 4 – 5 miles a day. I couldn’t do that before without suffering intense pain during and after the walk. This results in a low-impact but comprehensive exercise program. Couple this with proper water intake and healthy eating and you have the perfect lifestyle change.

Specific exercises for my injury included:

  • shoulder roll
  • cat stretches
  • side reaches
  • full bends
  • the plank (I added this one)

These names are specific to exercises I was given, staying away from yoga terminology and copyrighted routines. Look for classes at area churches. If you prefer to workout at home, you can purchase DVDs or sign up online. You may also find them on your cable networks. Just do your research and start slowly. Please don’t hurt yourself!

For more information about yoga, Mike Shreve has written an excellent article at Charisma Health. He provides links to two excellent sites where you can read more about Christian stretch routines that include praise and worship.

Of course, as always, the choice is yours to make. As stated above, my research led me to question whether I, as a Christian believer should be involved in something that is rooted in Eastern religion. I made the decision to stay away from anything that could look questionable to younger believers, because that’s where I am. If you are a mom or a grandmother and have children who are watching you, your decisions should be based on scripture and your personal beliefs. (I Corinthians 3:9-13 for further study).

James 4:17, TMV: In fact, if you know the right thing to do and don’t do it, that, for you, is evil.

Whatever you decide to do, do it and don’t quit. If you do nothing, there will never be change in your life. If you do something, changes will come. Whenever I forget to do these exercise for a while, I almost always pay the price with an injury. The key is: Don’t give up, and don’t let your old sedentary habits sneak back in.

What can you do today to get back on track?

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photo credit: stephcarter via photopin cc