Church Yoga or ‘Praise Moves’

 The many ways to practice Yoga are uncountable. I thought I knew about the general variations in temperature while practicing, the different combination of poses etc. But I have definitely never imagined a Yoga the way I practiced it on Anderson Island in Washington State last month, a place so spiritual and reviving that I shouldn’t even be surprised. 

We think of Yoga mainly as a practices linked and originated in Buddhism or Hinduism. The existence of Yoga can be traced back to more than 2000 years ago and its ‘language’ is Sanskrit. So most of the studios you will go to, the teachers will announce poses in an English translation, followed by its Sanskrit origin. ‘Savasana’ might be one of the easiest to remember!

But more and more people learn about how effective Yoga actually is, and I guess that is simply how it got around to be practiced at Catholic churches. The wonderful Claire Sabeti (and team) is teaching ‘Praise Moves’ at a little church on Anderson Island, almost free of charge. I went 4 times and after having practiced Yoga on 2 different continents and with many different teachers, this was something completely new to me!

I want to give you a short description of how Praise Moves works, the way I experienced it & why I went, followed by some wonderful scripture versus that accompany the yoga practice.

First of all, I am not a believer of A  religion and I don’t know which ‘God’ I am praying too. Not yet. But, and also because, I am open minded to experience all religions, learn about them, participate. Praise Moves was an intensive and beautiful way to be confronted with Christianity.  Imagine a group getting together, starting a regular warm up, doing a bunch of poses, just like the fitness & yoga classes you attended. Except that they don’t ‘salute the sun’, as defined in Yoga, when stretching out over head and glancing through your hands, but salute Jesus. And breathe out with a long and loud ‘Hallelujah’. To hold the poses the instructor helps and motivates the sporty believers with a verse. Often, the participants are encouraged to repeat these verses.

Now to me it was sometimes difficult to get the relaxation of mind that I am used to getting. Of course, when you think about it! Because I haven’t opened up / closed up (?) to God, going through these versus and prayers during practice makes my head go, my thoughts, questions, wonders. Yoga originally is about trying to let go of your thoughts and focus on breathing only. But when you try, really try, to let go of your mind, you actually dive into your element. Mine is nature. Yoga approved my love for nature. Because when I was trying to stop my brain from burning up with multiple thoughts and songs, I would imagine myself being carried away by the wind, dancing with leaves in a forest. Or laying in a bed of snow, that is slowly melting. Or simply sitting by the ocean, listening. Or watch the sun rise/set. So I figured that to this Praise Moves attending group, this must be the perfect relaxation. And it all made sense to me! Of course, the thought of Jesus doesn’t give them trouble, it fulfills them with peace. The exercises were great, my back felt wonderful after practice and I often felt the workout in my whole body the next day.

So if you, dear reader, are a believer and walk through this world with Jesus by your side, please read through the beautiful scripture versus and renamed Yoga poses, provided by my dearest friend Beth, who I miss so much. And visit the website for more information or to find a class closeby! Who knows! http://praisemoves.com/

The following paragraphs are written by Beth and I love her little notes. Please don’t quit here, or, start with this part of the blog. It is extremely interesting, different, and inspiring.

The Altar (Plank)
“I beseech you therefore, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.”  (Romans 12:1)
The tent (Downdog)
‘Enlarge the place of your tent, and let them stretch out the curtains of your dwellings:  do not spare:  lengthen your cords and strengthen your stakes.”  (Isaiah 54:2)
The mustard seed (On your back, knees in, hugged, head between knees)
“If you have faith as a mustard see, you can say to this mulberry tree, “Be pulled up by the roots and be planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you  (luke17:6)
Here are three more I really like too….maybe you will remember the poses….
The flapping tent (maybe called Cat’s back elsewhere)
“The Spirit of God has made me and the breath of the Almighty gives me life!”
Job 33:4
The Eagle  (like a chair pose but forward a little with arms back)
“They that wait upon the Lord, will renew their strength.  They shall mount up with wings as eagles.  They shall run and not grow weary, they shall walk and not faint.  Teach me Lord to wait.”  Isaiah 40:31
The runner (the runner starting a race )
Therefore since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight , and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith.”  Hebrews 12:1-2
Oh and just one more that is good for your tight hamstrings…..
The prayer shawl  the pose where you bend down slowly to touch your toes and then let you weight hang down with your knees straight or slightly bent….like a shawl…..
“Rejoice always.  Pray without ceasing.  In everything give thanks.  For this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.  1 Thes 5:16-18
Have a wonderful week everyone and don’t forget that there is so much to learn out there, so many surprises; be curious & and listen.

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