People communicate in many different ways. There are reams of papers on why, how and when this happens. We acknowledge this in our family, friendship, romantic and work relationships, but often we ignore that this is also true of our relationship with God.
The typical evangelical church service offers us a chance to communicate with God through words in spoken prayer and song, through the act of Holy Communion and through teaching presented in the sermon. The raising of hands has become more accepted. Some churches offer places where the congregation are invited to dance or wave flags.
I think I have always been a physically demonstrative person; I enjoy expressing myself through action and touch. I have always enjoyed dancing, but never really found performing to be the reason to dance, but simply to express what is happening inside me. Similarly I enjoyed sport, but was never very good at it so found that the concentration on the basic skills took all my energy.
When pregnant with my first child I attended an ante-natal yoga class. In this I found a slow, contemplative but highly effective form of exercise. It reached parts of my body that had not been strengthened or stretched for a long time, and had suffered through years of sedentary work. The teacher taught us how to be in tune with our bodies, and live in the present moment. Once I was familiar with the movements we used regularly I found I could connect with God through the simple movements. The use of the breath in union with the body showed me how God sustains me in every second, and refreshed me beyond a physical dimension. This was a form of movement that suited my body, my personality, and that I could use to talk to God; even if this talk was wordless.
The unfortunate thing, from a Christian point of view, is that yoga is generally taught by non-Christian folk who encourage spiritual connections in a direction that I did not want to follow. Sitting in a class one day, I wondered, “Wouldn’t a class with this form of physical exercise, but a Christian spiritualty be great?” And so BodyPrayer was born.
BodyPrayer is for:
Anyone wishing to improve their general body tone, flexibility and stability
Anyone wanting to spend some time for themselves, away from the pressures of home/work/etc
Christians wanting to spend contemplative time with God
Christians wanting to learn to meditate
Christians wanting to commune with God by physical expression
Anyone needing to deal with stress, muscular, depressive and respiratory issues
(if conditions are serious a consultation with physio or doctor beforehand is recommended, and the teacher must be made aware of the condition)
Men, women, children.
Josie and Angela stretch while their children Connor and Evie play on the cubby house at Toddler BodyPrayer.
What does a BodyPrayer class look like?
We start each class with a breathing exercise. This helps to disconnect the mind from the day and to focus on the present moment. A biblical focus for the class will be introduced at this time. We then work through a series of exercises:
To conclude the class we have a period of deep relaxation. This may include a biblically based guided meditation, Christian music, prayer or just silence.
BodyPrayer vs. Yoga: What is the difference?
Yoga actually means ‘union with god’. However, most yogis do not believe in a Trinitarian, creational God.
Yoga is an ancient tradition. It is not specifically linked with any one religion, and is not a religion in itself. It is rather a philosophy. The most famous yogic writer, who is considered by many to be the ‘father of yoga’, Patanjali, discusses philosophical and psychological issues. He presents a pathway to Samadhi, or transcendence. This is understood to mean the realisation of the union with god. This ‘god’, is interpreted by many scholars to be the Universal Energy, or Universal Consciousness.
A traditional yoga class may see itself as an integral part of the pathway to samadhi. Many teachers adhere to Buddhist or Hindu beliefs, however it is also taught with Taoist and even Islamic scripture.
Yoga taught in gyms and community centres often only employs the asana (postures). These are actually designed to prepare the body to meditate – eg to help strengthen the back so that it can support a seated position for an extended period. The philosophical and psychological aspects may not be engaged, or may be replaced with a New Age or other spirituality.
BodyPrayer does not call itself a ‘yoga class’, or even a ‘Christian yoga class’, but rather an alternative.
We believe in union with God – we believe that this has been achieved by Jesus Christ. Our aim is to come to a fuller understanding of what this means, and how to live in this knowledge to the fullest.
In our class structure this means several things: firstly, only Christian texts and music is used. These may come from various traditions and cultures, but must seek to explore, praise and acknowledge the Christian God.
Secondly, we recognise that the body is the vessel given to us by God to enable us to perform the work he has for us during this period of earthly habitation. It is right that we care for this body, keep it healthy, and are good stewards of this gift God has provided us with. To this aim we work to strengthen, stabilise, stretch and refresh, to be ready for what God would have us physically undertake.
Thirdly, we spend time in meditative contemplation, or prayer. This may take many forms. We tend to relax the body first, then release the mind, and then allow the spirit to commune with God. For different people this means different things; and we hope that there is room for different expressions of prayer in this form.
Overall, our aim is to provide a vessel through which God blesses His people.
If you would like greater clarity on any of these issues, please speak to Josie Grigg.
Ph. 8278 4589.