If you told me 25 years ago that one day I’d be teaching yoga at the Big Bear Yoga Festival–I’d have said you were crazy!
Raised Catholic, I stopped attending mass in junior high school and became a “born again” Christian within the year. God’s timing was perfect. I desperately needed someone or something to “save” me from the disease and dysfunction growing within me and around me in my family system.
I spent the next 15 years involved in evangelical church and para-church organizations and attended evangelical undergrad and graduate school. The personal relationship I developed with God and the people that surrounded me during those years really did “save” me. I made plenty of poor choices as it was–I can only imagine the trouble I might have gotten into otherwise. I’m grateful for the love and support of all those who came alongside me, loved me, and prayed for me. I also learned how to study the Bible and think critically about spiritual and theological matters. All of this laid a foundation for my faith in a God who so loved the world that he became flesh and blood, lived among us and revealed the way of love through the life of Christ Jesus.
And, I needed more than any of that provided.
I needed to embody my faith.
I needed to experience that love in my flesh and blood, in my female body. But the things about “flesh” and “body” I learned in church contexts didn’t take me deeper into my body. Confusing messages reinforced an already shame-based body image: you are intricately and wonderfully made, but your desires, instincts, feelings and thoughts can’t be trusted; your sexuality is a gift from God, but don’t act too sexy or show too much of your body lest you cause your brother to lust. For Christian eating disorder patients I’ve worked with those same messages were life threatening–creating distorted views of “flesh/fat” and appetite that reinforced destructive body related thoughts, feelings and behaviors.
My bout with breast cancer in 1992 activated an interest in alternative approaches to health. I attended my first yoga class in 1993 with cautious interest. I prayed before I entered the room, asking God to give me discernment about participating in what my earlier training had told me was “of the devil”. Twenty years later I can’t imagine life without yoga. It’s the spiritual discipline God has used to heal my relationship with my body–to learn to listen to, respect, appreciate and be grateful for the glory of God’s image revealed in my body, in my flesh, in my blood. To experience Christ in me — the hope of glory dwelling in the sacred temple of my body.
I keep coming back because the practice takes me into my body in a transformative way, deepening my knowing of God’s love in the depths of my innermost self. My movements on the mat are prayers: my body speaks what my heart longs to express but words fall short of conveying.
Yoga for Every Body
I teach Christ-centered yoga because I want to share the transformative power of moving prayers with my communities of faith. While I mostly practice the physical postures (known as “asana” and one of the eight limbs of yoga), I have a deep respect and appreciation for other aspects as well.
That’s why I taught a Christ-centered yoga workshop at the Big Bear Yoga Festival. I love sharing the immeasurable riches of God’s love in Christ through the yoga postures. I love guiding others into a deeper connection to the goodness and sacredness of their bodies. I love being at home in my body and inviting others to more fully inhabit their own homes.
I’d love to have you join me!
This story was first published on www.cissybradyrogers.com in 2013.