Reviewed by Carol Kurtz
Holy Yoga : Excercise for the Christian Body & Soul by
"Brooke Boon has taken back for the church what God originally intended for His people - a life of dedication and worship, spirit soul, and body."
Most Christians don’t expect to hear these two words in the same breath - “Christian” and “yoga”. What would it be like? Can there really be such a thing? And more importantly, should there be such a thing? Brooke Boon answers the skeptics and enthusiasts alike in this ground breaking book/dvd combo.
Yoga is a practice that has endured the ages, and it can be practiced in several genres. But Brooke Boon has developed a new one. She calls Holy Yoga “body prayer”. It was designed as a physical expression of worship through movement, prayer, breath work, and Scripture. But Christians, to whom Boon is obviously speaking, are usually uncomfortable incorporating their bodies with anything spiritual. After all, we are supposed to crucify our flesh, right?
After making a compelling case for Holy Yoga and debunking the standard objections and fears with Scriptures and the quotes of numerous theologians, she explains the physical aspects and benefits of her practice. An integral part of which is Scriptural meditation. Just the word meditation conjures up images of eastern gurus and mantras for most of us. But scriptural meditation? It seems God had the idea of meditation in the first place, according to the Bible, and other religions have adopted the idea over the centuries. Unfortunately, according to Boone, the Church has fearfully thrown the meditation-baby out with the bath water.
I was most intrigued by Boon’s picture of Scriptural meditation. She explains clearly and simply how to do it. One benefit to this training is the ability to concentrate on the Lord when praying, rather than finding you’ve spent the last ten minutes of prayer thinking about what to have for dinner. Does mental self control have immeasurable spiritual benefits? And can a Christian’s practice of yoga bring the body, mind, and spirit all closer to God? I tried it out for the first time, meditating on a verse I’d chosen, taking deep breaths as per Boon’s instructions, and looking at the clock before closing my eyes. By the time I opened my eyes again, fifteen minutes had passed. A true feat for me, although it was effortless and enjoyable. I followed her instructions when my mind started to wander, and I was able to stay focused on Him. I found the verse on the tip of my tongue and in the forefront of my mind all day until I went to sleep that night. This could be a great part of daily devotions.
Some Christians “tolerate” yoga if it is completely stripped of its spiritual aspects and only a physical exercise, called Hatha yoga. And Boon admits that this is better than practicing non-Christian yoga, as that can be an unacceptable and negative influence on her spirit, too. Holy Yoga is always practiced with Christian music, and it should be an uplifting, edifying experience.
She offers only one caveat: “There may be some people who should not practice Holy Yoga. If they have recently been converted from a New Age orientation and are not secure believers, then Holy Yoga is probably not the correct discipline for them. They might still be apt to take it in the wrong direction. This is similar to the discipline of fasting - which is not recommended for former anorexics, because of the danger of the spiritual fast being twisted into something no longer spiritual, and the person would end up in bondage again. This is not acting from fear but using discernment to make wise decisions.”
Boon encountered malicious disapproval when she first came out with Holy Yoga, yet she is not defensive in her point by point Biblical explanations to these objections. After reading the book through to the end, it seems that the only standing obstacle to this complete form of worship is fear.
By the time you’ve read through the hands on tutorial part of the book identifying the postures, complete with diagrams, you’re ready to put in the dvd. Boon has several students on mats on the ground in a beautiful outdoor setting in front of large red rocks. There are a few meditation messages, a prayer, and then the beginner’s class starts. If you’ve never done yoga, you really do need to familiarize yourself with those postures in the book before you try the dvd. And when you’ve read and understand her philosophy, you are able to participate to a deeper level. There is gentle, instrumental music in the background, but it would have been nice if she had played some recognizable worship music.
She leads us through the positions, explaining ways to maximize them, and leads us to focus on our Savior throughout. She introduces the yoga band, block, and mat. But you really only need a mat or a non-slip surface to do it. The actual class runs 39 minutes, but the total time of the dvd is 50 minutes.
Brooke Boon has taken back for the church what God originally intended for His people - a life of dedication and worship, spirit, soul, and body.
Carol Kurtz Darlington is a certified personal trainer and a certified group fitness instructor who works with people who want to lose weight as well as those who just want to enjoy better health. She enjoys empowering and encouraging others to reach their health and fitness goals, feel better about themselves in the process, and enjoy more energy to stay active in all areas of their lives. She is the founder of Totally Fit With Carol, a Christian weight loss website featuring workout videos, health tips, exercise advice, and more. She loves her morning cappuccino and her beloved grand-dog. In her spare time, she enjoys traveling and haunting Starbucks.