Yoga Spirited Athletes

Did you hear the latest craze?  Baseball players are doing yoga!  How crazy is that?  I just hear bits and pieces as the television in my living room is constantly on some kind of sports channel.  A person has to be deaf not to overhear Mad Dog when he is in one of his tangents.  We’ve been doing yoga in gymnastics for years, and seeing the benefits of it, but I love how what was once frowned upon and ridiculed by many of the “Man’s Man” type are finally opening their minds to the far off chance that it might help them in their sports as well.

I’ve been having my son do yoga stretches for years.  His volleyball coach laughs because she was also a gymnastics coach and is all too familiar with my yoga routine, and my son will be caught doing his yoga routine off on the sidelines during volleyball practice.  I can’t stress doing yoga stretches enough to children that are growing, it relieves those growing pains and helps the bones grow to their full potential, because their ligaments and tendons are lax enough to let the bones elongate.

Yoga is increasing in popularity in every sport now.  People are finally realizing the importance of keeping flexible around the joint and having a fluid and strong range of motion for injury prevention.  Having tight muscles limit the athlete’s ability to perform to their optimal potential, and we all want to reach our optimal potential if we are going to put many hours into a sport.

I have one friend who will not do yoga because she feels like it is worshiping another God.  As I am sure you may be aware, yoga is a physical, mental, and spiritual activity or discipline which originated in ancient India and can be linked to the religions of Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism.  I can understand my friend’s reluctance in not worshiping any other God but that of our Lord Jesus Christ, but to me, participating in a few innocent yoga stretches to elongate your tendons and ligaments to become a more flexible and stronger athlete is not worshiping another God.  It is just another form of stretching.

It is all in perception as most religious disputes are.  I honor that my friend is that firm in her beliefs and has chosen not to partake in the practice of yoga.  In all honesty, my son, my daughter, my athletes and I all participate in this activity without even realizing we may be jeopardizing our trip to Heaven.  I sure hope the parents of my gymnasts don’t think I am somehow trying to sabotage their children into worshiping another God.

Even after my friend explained her reservations and why she made the decision to stay away from such a discipline, it didn’t change my beliefs on yoga.  I see its benefits.  I honor its history and origin, but I am not connecting to any spirit or worshiping any other God while performing these stretches.  It’s totally innocent stretching.

Since yoga originated in ancient India and was practiced by other religions I can see some people’s hesitations, but I feel we have to stop analyzing everything to death.  Is doing yoga changing your love for our Divine Creator?  It doesn’t for me.  Is doing yoga changing your heart into a heart that would disappoint your loving Father in Heaven?  It doesn’t change my heart!  Than to me, yoga is harmless.  All it is in my world is a method to maximize flexibility and range of motion around a joint.

In the book of 1 Peter verse 3:15-16, the scripture tells us, “But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect.”  I feel my friend has her reason for choosing not to do yoga and I respect that, but I have my reason for choosing to do yoga and she respects that.

Doing yoga doesn’t change my heart’s honor for Christ the Lord as holy, but it does change the range of motion around any person’s joint.  Just like the Baseball Gurus who finally opened their minds to the fact that yoga could benefit their athletes just like it benefits a gymnast, I also think it’s time to open our mind that every religion may have something wonderful in it to benefit the human race.  We don’t have to let anything affect our love for our Lord and Savior, but an open-mind and loving heart towards anything beneficial would make our God a very proud father.