Yoga can be a knotty subject in the Christian community.
While some Christians see the ancient practice as a harmless way to improve flexibility and strength; others believe its Hindu roots make it incompatible with their faith.
At Highland Park United Methodist Church, members are blending their beliefs into their yoga practices.
“We want to emphasize that you can experience God in a variety of settings,” said Susanne Lankford, director of the church’s wellness ministry. “You can come on Sunday and sit in a pew and worship, or you can experience God in a yoga class.”
While HPUMC had a recreation program that existed long before Lankford took her position seven years ago, she said the classes have evolved.
“Now we’re trying to align better those with the mission of the church and kind of create this holistic approach to the ministry where we care about your spiritual health and your physical health too,” Lankford said.
HPUMC first introduced Holy Yoga to its parishioners about two years ago. The actual concept was founded by a woman named Brooke Boom a decade ago, who describes it as a space to get quiet with God and worship him with your heart, soul, mind, and body.
The “Gospel-centered” Holy Yoga school has trained more than 2,200 instructors in 13 countries since it opened in 2006.
“This class is designed so that you can show up and release those tensions you’re caring around with you and just sit with God for an hour,” Landford said.
Following a summer intermission, classes at HPUMC will resume Sept. 6.
During the class, the instructor will emphasize poses to make participants feel relaxed, vulnerable, and secure all at the same time.
“(Jamie Crosbie) does a really great job of taking a bit of Scripture and a short devotional that we do at the beginning of the class and trying to emulate that throughout the class itself,” Lankford said.
“It can be challenging for people emotionally and physically, but it’s also supposed to be an hour where you can sit with God and your thoughts, and just walk away refreshed.”
What: Holy Yoga
When: 9 a.m. Thursdays (beginning Sept. 6)
Where: Highland Park United Methodist Church, Room K
Cost: $10/month for church members, $25/month for non members (fee is for all classes and childcare is included)