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Posted on 12-03-2016
by The Reverend Gena Davis
The yoga revolution in the U.S. has caught on and is changing lives. Yoga offers innumerable health benefits physically, emotionally and psychologically. A yoga practice of asanas or poses with focus on the breath allows for improved physical health and energy flow and brings a calmer state of mind. When on our mats, practitioners can experience increased strength and vitality, and a lighter sense of being. Amazingly, we come off of our mats feeling rejuvenated, happy, and sometimes exhausted!
As an Episcopal priest, my spiritual practices are an important part of my daily routine and the way I live. Yoga has been for me a spiritual practice that informs and enriches my Christian faith in powerful ways. Beyond the health benefits, yoga has deepened my experience of God. The Sanskrit root word for yoga is yuj, which means “to join.” Yoga means “unity” or “oneness” and is described as the union of the individual consciousness with the universal consciousness or God. The entire Christian journey is a movement toward God, and as St. Augustine of Hippo said, “You have made us for yourself, and our hearts are restless, until they can find rest in you.”
For many Christians, the experience of God, perhaps most especially in worship, comes from the mind, or intellect. It has been said that the longest journey is from the head to the heart. Yoga helps in this movement to the heart center. I have found this to be true for many years, and in the summer of 2015, I became a certified Yoga Educator (YTT 200). Out of this journey, YogaMass® was borne. YogaMass® is a unique holy communion worship experience engaging mind, body and spirit, reconnecting us to the divine presence among us and within us. We engage our bodies in breathing, yoga flow, and meditation, and together we share in the sacred meal as we seek to be transformed into the mind of Christ.
YogaMass® was a vision that came out of my desire to more fully integrate yoga into my own spiritual life and to share it with others for healing and wholeness. YogaMass® is offered monthly by Grace Episcopal Church in partnership with the Institute for Spirituality and Health at the Texas Medical Center. Please visit our websites for upcoming dates and more information: graceinhouston.org, yogamass.com, and ish-tmc.org. The Reverend Dr. John K. Graham, my partner in YogaMass®, says of the service, “We engage all our senses in the Eucharist. The whole person is body, soul and spirit while the beautiful Eucharist stimulates and touches our heart and our soul in a way. By integrating yoga, we also integrate the body, and that’s a holistic approach to the mass.”
In addition to YogaMass®, I also offer donation-based yoga classes twice per week at Grace Episcopal Church: Hatha Flow (Tuesdays 5:00-5:50 pm) and Gentle Flow (Saturdays 9:00-10:00 am). Please check our website graceinhouston.org for calendar events or call us at (832) 667-8601 as classes are not held on YogaMass® days or as other ministry needs arise. Grace is located at 4040 W. Bellfort (one block west of Stella Link), Houston, 77025. All are welcome.
We invite you to join us and experience what Jesus promises, “Behold, the kingdom of God is within you” (Luke 17:21, KJV). The greatest gift we can give ourselves is to discover the presence of God within, and then to share the gift with others for healing and wholeness. We can change the world one heart at a time, and as the beautiful song written by Sy Miller so wisely says, ‘'Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me.”
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