The Media Project is a network of mainstream journalists who are Christians pursuing accurate and intellectually honest reporting on all aspects of culture, particularly the role of religion in public life in all corners of the world. It welcomes friends from other faiths to such discussions and training.

Bending yoga to fit their worship needs

Bending yoga to fit their worship needs

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From the Los Angeles Times. Christian pop music played quietly in the background as instructor Bryan Brock led a recent yoga class at the nondenominational Church at Rocky Peak in Chatsworth.

Incorporating prayer and readings from the Bible, Brock urged his class of about 20 students to find strength in their connection to their creator through yoga's deep, controlled breathing. "The goal of Christian yoga is to open ourselves up to God," he said. "It allows us to blur the line between the physical and the spiritual."

The instructor then recited the Lord's Prayer while his students moved slowly through a series of postures known as the sun salutation.

Such hybrid classes, which combine yoga practice with elements of Christianity or Judaism, appear to be growing in popularity across Southern California and elsewhere.

Some Christians call their versions of the discipline holy yoga or Yahweh yoga and some teachers urge participants to "breathe down Jesus." Jewish yogis, in turn, have developed -- and in some cases, even trademarked -- Torah yoga, Kabbalah yoga and aleph bet yoga, applying Eastern meditative movements to Jewish prayer and study.

Meanwhile, Californian Muslims who practice yoga have yet to merge it with the teachings of the Koran or worship of Allah, a local leader says. And there are skeptics within all three Abrahamic religions who question whether it is proper to integrate the Hindu-based spiritual practice into Western monotheistic traditions.

Rayna Mike said she was skeptical of yoga before she started going to Brock's class at the Church at Rocky Peak, an evangelical congregation. "I never did it before because I considered it Eastern philosophy and I didn't want any part of it," said Mike, a Bel-Air businesswoman.

Mike changed her mind when her trainer at the Church on the Way in Van Nuys recommended the yoga class, and she said the practice has improved her health while feeding her soul.

"You can go and sweat anywhere, but that's not the point," she said. "This is a beautiful thing. It's an answer to my prayers."

Read the full article at the Los Angeles Times.

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