Posted by: Lisa | December 5, 2013

Yoga is Holiness

Okay, today I’m breaking my plan of writing a daily post based on one of the daily Scripture passages for Advent.  But I have a good reason.  Today’s post is based on one of the intercessory prayers addressed to Christ during Morning Prayer for Thursday of the first week of Advent.  Here’s the prayer:

“You are the source of holiness; keep us holy and without sin now until the day of your coming.”

Whenever I see the word “holy,” I think of “whole.”  This is due to a book I read some years ago called Holiness is Wholeness by Josef Goldbrunner (U of Notre Dame Press, 1964).  A holy person is not some perfect person who never makes mistakes, never uses swear words, and always seems to walk on some higher plane than everyone else.  Rather, a holy person is whole, complete – physically, mentally and spiritually.

This morning, I saw the word “holy,” then thought “whole,” and then – surprisingly – thought “yoga.”  The word Yoga comes from Sanskrit and means “union” or “to unite.”  The ultimate goal of Yoga (which most people have never heard) is union with God.  Union with God is not possible for anyone who is not “whole,” not “holy.”

Sin means separation from God.  Anything that divides us from God is “sin.”  Since all of us are separated from God to some degree, we all have sin in our lives.  That’s what we mean when we acknowledge that all people are sinners.  It’s not about some horrible damnation in hell; it’s about learning to recognize the thoughts, words and actions that separate us from God.  Since we are all unique human beings, we are all dealing with our own sins.

Now, believe it or not, the complete practice of Yoga – which is much more than rolling out a sticky mat and doing a series of exercises and stretches – leads to wholeness.  (If you would like more information on this, look up the eight limbs of Yoga as taught by Patanjali.)  Wholeness leads to union with God – or Holiness.

The prayer says to Christ:  “You are the source of holiness.”  So, for Christians, holiness comes through Christ; holiness is a grace.  But we don’t just sit back and receive; we’re expected to do our part, to examine ourselves, to discipline ourselves – to grow into wholeness.  If Yoga helps people (including Christians) grow into wholeness/holiness, then it can only be a blessing.

I’m not suggesting that this process is simple or quick.  On the contrary, it’s a lifelong process.  That’s part of the beauty.

 

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