Yoga has deepened my relationship with God

Melisa Darby

I have been Catholic my entire life, graduating with a Humanities and Catholic Culture degree from Franciscan University of Steubenville in 1997. In January 2003, I took my first Power Vinyasa Flow Yoga class at Prana Yoga in Austin, Texas. It was the spiritual element I had known and recognized my entire life, but on a more deep, personal, nurturing level. For me, this practice brought my faith to life and my relationship to Christ is more personal as a result. I believe ultimately, Power Yoga is about not only transforming, but mostly about healing– healing not just of the body, but more importantly of the mind and spirit, bringing spirituality into a more whole place. This practice shows you your gifts. This is what yoga continues to do for me in a very direct, active, powerful way.

In my experience, many Catholics shy away from yoga claiming the spirituality and philosophy of yoga does not coincide with Catholicism. I love the Catholic faith and I have directly experienced God’s healing and grace through my yoga practice. There are many Catholics and Christians who are skeptical. I feel called to share what I have known with other women like me.

I have learned that one’s practice is so affected by the approach to it. Being relaxed and receptive to the unexpected, the unknown, is the hardest part. Letting go of my own need to feel comfortable and confident seems, for me, too hard, too much! I think ultimately it’s about trust. My capability to let go and trust depends on how willing I am to go beyond the way I know myself right now, and how willing am I to change? Yoga brings up active, real questions that get me connected and in touch with what is really going on inside of me. This awareness enables me to listen to and act on the voice of God more clearly.

I realize that the only way to truly transform is by adding an element of “good pain,” to sweat, focus, breathe through it all and break through self-imposed boundaries. “Take up your cross and follow me.” To me, there are so many connections between Christianity and the spiritual “lights” I discover in yoga. It is my desire and ambition to better connect the two and then to share that with those Catholics and Christians who are afraid of yoga.

I believe I am onto something that could be very beneficial for those who confuse the word “religion” with fear, fear of the unknown, fear of what they might become, fear of becoming who they really are–which is who God wants them to be.