Religion and spirituality are part of the everyday lives of people across the face of the earth. However, they are often seen as being mutually exclusive of each other. Barriers are often erected between the two and serve only to bury, under the opacity of dogma and doctrine, their commonalities. Commonalities between religious doctrine and spiritual practices can be bridges that lead to a more expansive and grounded realization of The One Source (TOS). Specifically, yoga practice that incorporates the precepts of yama/niyama can be a supporting aspect of the Christian journey.
TOS is an acronym for The Source of All Creating/ Sustaining/ Dissolving. As mere words cannot really encapsulate the immensity of this concept, the term GOD is what many Christians find easy to grasp. TOS, for all intents and purposes, is a more expansive and encompassing concept that references the religious and spiritual acknowledgement that everything comes from TOS. Within the context of Christianity, the Bible states that TOS created the heaven and the earth and the sea and ALL that in THEM is. TOS did this by SPEAKING reality into existence. In the case of Man, TOS formed the matter (the dust of the earth) and put the spiritual essence (the breath of life) into man (spirit and matter). From the standpoint of yoga, TOS-GOD is actually a whole that exudes the duality of nature. (i.e. subjective and objective, spirit and matter). It is this duality that is perceived as everyday reality.
The practice of yoga, to include various concepts and methodologies, promotes the observance of certain precepts. These precepts are: Yamas – Asetya, Asteya, Aparigraha, Ahimsa, Brahmacharya and Niyamas – Ishvara Pranidhana, Tapas, Santosha, Shaucha, Svadyaya. These are Sanskrit (Ancient East Indian) terms which translate to Avoidances – Non-Lying, Non-Stealing, Non-Greed, Non-Violence, Non-Sensuality and Non-Avoidances – Attunement to a GOD Principle, Austerity, Contentment, Purity, Self Study, repectively. Yama (avoidances or conduct which is controlled) are those habits that should be minimized in one’s life. They are stated in a negative sense. Niyama (Non-avoidances or conduct which is cultivated) are those practices or acts that one should increase in their lives. These same precepts and the practice of them can be found in the KJV Bible.
These precepts, yama and niyama, can be the conduit through which the Christian can find common ground on which to explore the practice of yoga. Christians (sic) approach their salvation through observing a philosophy of monotheism. Yogis strive for self-realization by harmonizing the duality that comprises existence in this plane of reality. This plane of reality is that which emanates from TOS-GOD. By one being grounded in Christianity, the connection with observing non-greed, non-violence, non-lying, non-stealing, non sensuality, purity, self study, contentment, austerity, Attunement to a GOD Principle can be a place to more comfortably see that there is an inter-connectivity between all of life on earth. One can utilize the yamas and the niyamas as a way to bring yoga into a Christianity and yoga, via , to make the practice of yoga a practice that supports and even bolsters one’s Christian beliefs.
The idea being exposited here is that neither, religion nor spirituality, has to have dominion over the other; that they can be wholly supportive of each other. Unfortunately, in a world of wrong or right, the side of the fence where one resides is usually viewed as the correct side. By allowing the commonalities between the two to bring about a melding of ideas, there could be great beneficial results from this. When practicing (true yoga), one’s breath is always, should always be, at the forefront of the practice. The breath of life is what energetically and spirituality sustains the body in the body in this earth plane. If the practice of yoga can assist in the developing the ability to breath fully and completely, then why not practice it. It is the breath of life, as was bestowed upon humankind by TOS, that connects us to that all encompassing power. The precepts of yama-niyama can serve as a source of ideological common ground between religion and spirituality, between Christianity and yoga. One can, then, more confidently stand on their religious ideals while engaging in a spiritual practice.