I have been doing yoga once a week.

And I say that partly as a confession. I was raised Baptist and yoga happened to be one of those things on a long list of items I was taught to condemn. Right there alongside astrology and evolution and change.

The reasoning is that yoga originates from a pagan source (also known as Hindu philosophy), so no good can come of it.  I love my Baptists friends but I have to say – I’m keeping the yoga.

I must confess that I don’t know much about the pagan history of yoga. I must also confess that I don’t particularly care. Like most things (say television and print and free speech, for example) I think yoga is what you make it. It can be used for good and I’m sure that in some weird way it could probably also be used for evil. Personally, I use it to stretch.

Yoga for me is about posture and flexibility and balance and proper breathing, all of which are things that greatly improve my running. Interestingly enough, yoga is the only activity that puts me in the mood to listen to all the Amy Grant and Jars of Clay songs that I grew up with. I think there’s something about the clearing of the mind that I achieve with yoga that always brings me back to my roots. And my roots are definitely Baptist.

I’m sad that yoga has been demonized in the Christian community. The health benefits are amazing. I would encourage everyone to try yoga at least once, whether it be a local yoga class or a home DVD. It’s one of the very few things that will benefit you regardless of your fitness or training level. And if you really do end up in hell, my guess is that it’s probably for other reasons.

A few days ago I got an email invitation to a 3-day Christian course that claimed to explore the spirit-soul-body connection. I was intrigued. It’s not a common topic as far as Christian courses go. But then the testimony attached included a woman bragging about how she burned all her New Age and natural health books. My heart sank.

I’m a journalist. In my field, books are sacred. Burning a book to me is like killing your dog. It’s just not right. If you don’t like your dog, you should get rid of it or don’t buy it in the first place. But please please please… don’t kill your dog. Book burning is a barbaric activity, and the religious people I know are not barbaric, so I don’t understand why people are still burning things.

I have an affection for the Christian community, and I hope that it can someday as a whole rise above the reputations and associations it has established over the years. It may take time, but if we can all keep working towards a healthy mind and heart and body, I think in the long run we may find that we all share the same goals: good health and happiness.

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