Saturday, October 3, 2009

Christianity and Yoga

So in my last post, I used a picture from a site called Inspired Woman Magazine. I went back to read the article that the picture was associated with and found an article entitled Christian Fitness: Should it Include Yoga?

Now, here is my disclaimer and my confession: I generally do not like Christians. There are a few that I have met that have been wonderful and I enjoy being around but invariably, I feel, there is a judgment thing going on with Christians. And I think that's part and parcel of the religion. Some Christians will say that God is the judge (when it comes to what happens to non-Christians after death) but then will also point to the "infallible" Word of God in terms of what happens if one refuses to accept Jesus as Lord and Savior. So, in other words, they *know* how God feels about things. The Christians I've liked and gotten along with so far will admit that they don't totally know the mind of God. They will acknowledge that there may be other spiritual paths just as valid as theirs.

And speaking as someone who grew up in a heavily Christian household, I know that I am biased against Christians and Christianity. I remember vividly being told when I was about 12 or 13 that yoga was basically evil. I wanted to ask questions but was silenced. It seemed as if anything that folks were ignorant about or that was different was called evil. Including (and maybe especially) our own indigenous religions.

But I digress . . .

Should Christians practice yoga? I guess that's something a Christian would have to seek God's face about. Yoga as it's presented in the West is a watered down version. It is indeed a whole philosophy and spirituality. Does that philosophy and spirituality stand at odds with Christianity? It depends on your brand of Christianity. But in my eyes, you can have a philosophy and a religion and the two might not be at odds. For example, you can have a philosophy of veganism and be Christian. You could ascribe to the philosophy of yoga and still be Christian. If you ate a vegan meal, I don't think that would cancel out or go against your faith? If you practiced yoga, I don't think that would go against your faith.

What is yoga anyway? I like this explanation the best. But yoga has also been described or defined as "union". I read somewhere that it is basically aligning yourself with God, the universe, etc. What I haven't read anywhere is that each pose is "in praise" of a different Hindu deity.

But isn't being a Christian simple? Isn't it to believe that Jesus Christ is the son of God, God Himself made manifest in the flesh, who came to die and whose blood is redemption and who by resurrecting on the third day conquered death and is now seated at the right hand of God? Isn't the work of a Christian to follow in Christ's path? It seems to me that yoga could be a legitimate way to work at your Christ-like-ness (for Christ exemplifies all the Yamas and Niyamas) and would not challenge your faith. To me, honestly, all these other add ons and rules that organized religions add on are just superfluous. Let's get to the root. Too many organized religions make it seem like there are 500,000 distractions (sent by the devil, of course) to get you off the narrow road. But according to the Bible, it's so simple to stay on the narrow road that a child could do it.

It's interesting how folks describe yoga as "new age". It's kind of like how "going green" is the "new black". I usually don't verbalize my thoughts on these things but it seems that all too often things originated by people of color are co-opted by White folks and given this new sheen, like it's the cool thing to do. As if there haven't been folks doing it forever and ever and ever. But what's more insulting is how so many times, there's not even a clear understanding of these practices and ways of being. It's not genuine. But be that as it may, it's what we often have here in the West. Many, many Westerners divorce the spiritual from the physical when it comes to yoga . . . so no, I don't see the problem with Christians practicing the physical aspects of yoga at all.

Well, I don't know if Christians should practice the spirituality of yoga (although it's been argued many times that there really is no separation) but I do know that if a Christian is interested, they should look to the root to get a real understanding of what yoga is just like they should look to the root to understand Christianity. They shouldn't rely on what someone tells them or what an article says. They should study. Be open-minded. Learn about it. And then see if it jibes with their own faith.

I ran across this blog which had some interesting insight.

Evening Yoga

Is fabulous! I really enjoyed tonight's yoga session. I did Living Room Yoga: Strengthen and Lengthen (my favorite yoga DVD, by the way). Since I've been moving about all day, I felt so limber and flexible. I got into the poses easily and I feel extra relaxed and strong right now. I was really able to focus since I wasn't rushing trying to finish before Z2 got up. This allowed me to get into myself more deeply and fine tune a lot of the poses. Even if aerobics and weight training don't work out so great for the evening, yoga will. Ahhh . . . namaste!

Photo courtesy of Inspired Woman Magazine.

Friday, October 2, 2009

A while back I expressed how challenging it has been to actually work out since Z2 has been getting up earlier and/or at different, unpredictable times in the morning. It actually started to stress me out a lot. Instead of my "me time" in the morning , it became one huge race to squeeze everything in before Z2 wakes up. I was getting angry at him and even angrier at the situation. It became obvious that trying to get up earlier was counterproductive as I was struggling to stay motivated without the promise of a good chunk of time to myself. I was also struggling to get up at 5:00 (sometime 4:45) with no guarantee that I could get anything done (and also waking up quite tired despite 8+ hours of sleep). I realized that I needed a change when this past week, what should have been a routine cough turned into bronchitis that landed me in the emergency room. See, for me stress *always* translates into getting really sick and being really exhausted physically and psychologically. The issue is that I can be really stressed but have a difficult time acknowledged that until, unfortunately, I'm having difficult time breathing.

Anyway, a change of course is needed, of course. I thought about joining a gym or the YMCA but after pricing all that, it will seriously have to be a last resort unless I can find some kind of part-time income. Add to that the fact that my local YMCA is sorely lacking in classes and the gyms I can afford do not have yoga classes. If I'm going to leave the house to exercise, I really want it to be a one-stop deal. I mean, I know I can't afford yoga classes on top of the gym so it needs to be combined somehow. Yet gyms that do offer yoga are about $70+ a month which is for my financial situation, a nearly impossible reach.

While Z2's sleep in the morning is unpredictable, his sleep at night is. By 9:00, he is predictably out like a light and it takes much less time than
it used to to actually get him down. And so, Chi-Chi, the confirmed early riser/morning person, is going to try working out at night. My sister suggested it and while I was resistant to the idea at first, it actually makes good sense at this juncture.

I started to go to bed along with the boys for two reasons. First, I was generally exhausted at the end of the day and passed out with them while putting them to bed. I'd wake up at some obscene hour in the morning still in my clothes, disoriented and annoyed. So I started getting ready for bed with them and going to sleep at the same time they did which meant I would get up really early in the morning. Secondly, the hubby wanted time alone when he got home from work so I would try to give him his space. Nowadays, I'm not so winded at the end of the day and I don't have as much difficulty staying awake while putting the boys to bed. Also, the hubby doesn't get home till about 10:45. I'll be out of his way by that time.

I could work out from about 9:15-10:15 . . . a good solid hour which I know will not be interrupted. I would shower after and head off to bed. This may actually help me lose more weight (burn off dinner) and may lead to better sleep. I know that I have to have dinner over and done by 6:15 the latest so that I have at least 2 hours between when I ate and when I exercise. This might be a bit stressful too but I'm going to try. I'm excited to start and really hoping it works out. If it does indeed work out, I will invest in P90X (including the whole eating thing since I know I need to change my eating and was thinking about joining Weight Watchers for my birthday) because I will actually have the time to do it. It seems like this may be a whole lot less stressful.

Meanwhile, in the mornings I will still be hoping to get some quiet time to do my spiritual work although I don't mind (as much) having Z2 around while I'm doing that. I did this morning which helped me tremendously.

I don't know . . . the mornings have been so erratic since Z2 started this whole waking up whenever thing. I really want to get a handle on it. As it is now, it's 7:57 and Z2 is just waking up (which means Z1 and the hubby are just now waking up too). I can't plan a thing (including getting Z1's academics in). I know the fact that the hubby works late makes mornings difficult but I still need some kind of routine and predictability. So a lot is riding on changing my workout from morning till evening.

The hubby says the solution to all of this is to wean. But I'm not quite ready yet and neither is Z2.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

One Fine Sauce

Recently I've come to realize that a great sauce really does make a great meal. So I've been making some of the sauces that are most popular in my household in bulk, i.e. enough to fill a large mason jar (which I scored a ton of on Freecycle last year). Some examples of sauces that I make large quantities of are gingery stir-fry sauces, sweet and sour sauces, pizza sauces, brown sauces, curry sauces and barbeque sauces. These sauces are highly acidic, either containing tomatoes or some kind of vinegar (white vinegar, rice wine or red wine vinegar), or lemon juice so they keep very well tightly lidded in the refrigerator for weeks.

How is making lots of sauce at one time helpful? Well, it actually makes it easy to throw together quick meals that don't take that much forethought, time or planning.

Tonight's dinner was made with the last 1/3rd jar of barbeque sauce I had on hand. The recipe I use for my barbeque sauce is based loosely on Louise Hagler's recipe in Tofu Cookery. I made oven-barbequed tofu using the method in Veganomican, which is the method I'll be using from now on. This morning I took the tofu out of the freezer to let it defrost and when it was time to get started, I made sure to prepare the tofu by pressing out as much water as I could (by wrapping the tofu brick in my specially designated tofu pressing towel and placing my heaviest cast iron cookware on top for fifteen minutes).

The dish turned out fabulously! On the side was roasted red potatoes (just a little olive oil, Mrs. Dash seasoning, sea salt and black pepper) and some lightly steamed broccoli.
We enjoyed out dinner very much tonight and I enjoyed the fact that I wasn't in the kitchen slaving away for hours. I think this is my most handy homemaking tricks (aside from letting doughs rise overnight for freshly baked breads in the morning).
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