Yoga and Meditative Prayer
As Christians it is helpful to make some distinctions between the primary objectives of yoga exercises and meditative prayer. We can say that yoga exercises work on a “horizontal” level to improve the function and integration of our body, mind, and spirit. Meditative prayer, on the other hand, focuses on our relationship with God in a direct, vertical way.
Assuming a relaxed seated posture, we open ourselves in meditative prayer to a loving exchange with God who dwells in the center of our being. In yoga we direct our attention to our body as we guide it through a variety of exercises.
Through yoga practice we learn to work with our body with patience, respect, sensitivity, acceptance and other similar spiritual values. In meditative prayer our attention is directed towards God who dwells at the center of our being in the depth of our hearts.
When we use yoga to prepare for meditative prayer, as the diagram illustrates, yoga in the service of meditative prayer expresses a balance between the horizontal and vertical dimensions.