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Yoga vs. Religion

Today I want to talk about the silent eggshell catwalk I do around spirituality & yoga. You won’t catch me talking about this too much, because I try my best to stay professional and “politically” correct if you will.

I was raised Baptist but as I got older I always felt like the black sheep. I didn’t fit in and a lot of times was not included in certain things because of my lack of church attendance. I smoked cigarettes and drank socially and I even liked to dance. I also committed a big no-no and gave birth out of wedlock. All things that were looked down upon. With being the black sheep came a feeling of unworthiness for me, I wasn’t good enough because I didn’t attend church and I felt oh so judged for my lifestyle choices. I was a true sinner through and through…..but honey…we all are.

Through my journey of learning to love myself is when I felt God more than I ever did in that church. Educating myself on Hinduism, Buddhism, Paganism and Shamanism I found they were similar to Christianity in a lot of ways. For myself personally I found more love. Now that could be because of my “conditioned” memories to my personal experiences with church and the people in it. I am not here to sway anyone, for each person is on their own personal journey and I do my best at practicing Ahimsa. (Ahimsa – Sanskrit word for “Non-Violence” meaning even to push one’s opinion or perspective is violent. To sway them to think or believe how you want them to is violent. Ahimsa is allowing everyone their right and space to fully express themselves how they choose.) But I believe all religions are saying the same universal truths, they just think their way is the right way. Religion to me is another form of separation, separating brother from brother.

Religion to me has shown me how you SHOULD or should NOT be, what you Can or Cannot do. It has shown me ways of feeling ugly and horrible about myself for things I have done or continue to do. Don’t get me twisted just yet, the stories and messages can be AWESOME! They can be absolutely life changing and life-enriching for sure! But so can the Hinduism stories, like on Ganesha, the Elephant God that is the remover of all obstacles. Or the teachings of Siddhartha (Buddhism) which if followed makes the person an amazing and kind person in my eyes and should be a way of life for all. I just have found something of my own and it’s way more personal, which is what I prefer. To each their own. I respect all religions but all religions have their place and each one exists for those it is meant for.

Now onto the correlation with yoga….People have said that “Yoga is the Devil’s work. Yoga is Satan worship. Yoga is evil.” I would guarantee that each and every one of those people have never done yoga before. A lot of yoga teachers, including myself, really push that there is no correlation to religion because we are educated on the many health benefits it offers. We push this because we don’t want to see someone who needs yoga to not give it a chance because of a close-minded belief that it will stray them from God. When you are doing yoga, you are stretching your muscles, your fascia, you are practicing mindfulness, you are strengthening your body, strengthening your mind, you are increasing your oxygen intake, increasing blood circulation, you are regulating your blood pressure, you are increasing your flexibility and your ability to balance. I could keep going but there are far too many benefits to doing yoga then not doing yoga. Which I cannot think of any, except for the uneducated notion that it is a religion different than your own. Which it is not a religion, but can be very spiritual on a personal level and that is only if you CHOOSE to take it there.

For those of you that know God, I would hope that you would agree with me that it is the most fulfilling relationship you’ll ever have. For me, I use yoga as time connecting to God. After all, I am God’s creation. When I come out of the crazy mind and into my body I am taking time to give thanks for this body I have been given. I take time to give thanks for all that it does for me every day. Like my feet for instance, they carry me everywhere I go. When was the last time you gave thanks for the feet carrying you around? How many times a week do you pray or ask God to come into your life and help you handle your obstacles? Instead of that I surrender in Yoga to God with appreciation for every bend and curve God provides. I give thanks for the really hard stuff because I know it is teaching me and strengthening me. Prayer is talking to God, which a lot of people do. I’m not here to knock it, I know the power of prayer firsthand. But meditation is listening to God, and if you don’t think you or anyone can hear God, I am sorry that something or someone has made you feel/think that way.

Through my journey of loving myself and educating myself I have become closer to the Divine than I ever was. This time my relationship with God is not built on what I’ve been told from someone else, it’s not built on what it says in the bible or even on someone else’s experience. It is built upon a very sacred and personal firsthand experience. I am able to love myself authentically, no longer feeling a need to be one way or another. I am able to love everyone else more fully for who they are instead of what my personal ego wants them to be. If one can connect with the Divine through yoga, I say what the heck is wrong with that??? Someone please tell me, because I think it is a very beautiful thing.

Yoga is an ancient gift passed on to us and the yoga lovers of today are people trying to spread peace and love. We are trying to lift the consciousness of the earth. I invite any nay-sayers to come take a class for free sometime so you can see what really goes on in a yoga class.

Thank you for your time. Sending my love & light. Namaste

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