Yoga For Christ?

Many people are familiar with the verse “Be still and know that I am God” found in Psalm 46:10 and a lot of individuals can say that they have been encouraged to quiet their minds in an attempt to tune out the noise of the world and hear God speak. So, in an effort to spend quiet time with God and tune into His “frequency”, one might pose the question, “Where does yoga fit into all of this?” Yoga, which means “to yoke, unite or integrate” in its original Sanskrit, is a physical, mental and spiritual discipline that originated in India a long time ago. Recently, “Christian yoga”, an alternative to traditional yoga, is becoming more mainstream. Though the reception to this alternative style of yoga has been mixed (upsetting purists, the Vatican and even some Christians), some things are for certain and can’t be ignored or scorned– it is increasing in popularity and people are taking notice of the number of salvations and healings that are taking place. Carol Serwna, founder of The Barefoot Yoga Studio in Jupiter and a successful yoga teacher for the past 25 years, shares her thoughts about this spiritual discipline and clears up some misconceptions about this highly sought-after alternative that is gaining a devout following.

In The Beginning…
When Serwna moved to Florida 12 years ago from Maryland, she felt that God was leading her to open a yoga studio that would incorporate her faith while also providing more of a spiritual Life to her community rather than just a business endeavor.  “The vision for this studio was to reach the lost and to incorporate a healing Life for those who needed it,” Serwna shared. “I have a strong evangelistic spirit and I want to share Jesus with others.  Although the studio was met with some resistance at first (including one passerby who used to pray against the studio), as traditional yoga comes from Hindu roots, I really felt a calling from God about opening up this studio and the outcome has been incredible. Barefoot Yoga is the only ‘Christian’ yoga studio in the area, though I try not to label it as that because it is truly an outreach Life and people from all faiths take part in our classes.”

How Barefoot Stands Apart
There are many aspects within The Barefoot Yoga Studio that separate it from other studios in the area. First off, the chanting to Hindu gods, popular in many studios, doesn’t take place. “In my opinion, I feel that it may open you up to avenues that aren’t beneficial. I always tell people who are interested in yoga and who are looking at various studios to find out what the studio is promoting. Just like you would ask any other health or fitness professional what their certification is, I think it is important to learn what the spiritual background of the teacher is and what is taught there regarding spirituality.”

Serwna is completely transparent about her Christianity, and it is that transparency combined with a compassionate and loving attitude that has drawn people from all faiths into her studio time and time again. Those who pass by her studio are greeted with well-known Christian symbols and a rack that holds The Good News. Upon entering Barefoot Yoga, an altar with a Bible placed upon it can be found and a picture of Jesus holding a lamb is proudly displayed. “I have students that are of Muslim, Buddhist and even New Age backgrounds. My hope and goal is to form a relationship with them, get to know them and not make them feel uncomfortable or judge them, but rather over time be able to share the message of Christ,” she explained.

Other particulars that set the studio apart include the playing of instrumental devotional music and the meditation aspect, which focuses on the meditation of scripture and specific Bible verses. “I encourage people to have a daily time of quiet communing with God and develop a relationship with Him,” shared Serwna. “Sometimes I think Christians get a bad rap. I don’t want to turn anyone off and not have them return and possibly never hear about Jesus again. Instead, I gently weave in stories throughout the class about how our life intersects with God and remind people that even though having a healthy body is good, the body is just a temporary vessel and we need to focus on what is important –our relationship with God and with others.”

The Physical, Mental and Spiritual Gain
Serwna described some of the physical and mental benefits for those who practice yoga, which included: learning the art of gentle stretching, breathing techniques, strengthening the diaphragm, relaxing the mind and getting rid of obsessive thought patterns and anxieties. “Yoga is truly a vehicle to reach God; it teaches you how to slow down and grow in your relationship with Him. It is not just a physical exercise but rather a lifestyle – a lifestyle of living mindfully and not focusing on external things,” Serwna told. “Regarding our physical body, yoga is a great compliment to Western medicine. Yoga doesn’t just work your muscles. It works your internal system, primarily your immune, circulatory and digestive systems and all of your organs. Because of the mind-body connection, when you work your mind, body and spirit all together it really helps to heal you on another level.” And speaking of healing, Serwna has seen many take place over the years – some have been instantaneous while most are progressive and happen over time. She has seen people with Cancer, Fibromyalgia, Arthritis, various injuries and weight issues all benefit physically and mentally from taking part in her classes. For those who are willing, she will lay hands on them and anoint them with oil. “I’ve seen many miracles and healing, and I think they occur so that people can understand that God is the one in control of it. It isn’t me or the yoga that is doing it,” she added. In addition to miracles and healings, numerous salvations have taken place over the years at the studio, including one person who was a devout Buddhist for 25 years, heard the message of Jesus and accepted Christ a few years ago.

When Serwna opened the studio up 12 years ago she said: “If I am going to do this business/Life, I want to go all the way with God for it – I want to be passionate about it and evangelize to those around me.” With each year being more successful than the last, Serwna is well-known in her community today as a solid, loving Christian woman with a non-judgmental heart who has never met a stranger and takes the time to get to know everyone.

Oh, and the passerby that was mentioned earlier? After learning that Serwna is a Christian and hearing about the salvations and healings that have taken place, that individual now prays for the studio and for Serwna’s Life to be continued so that all can hear the good News of Jesus.

To learn more about The Barefoot Yoga Studio and to experience a different type of “Son” Salutation, please visit www.thebarefootyogastudio.com

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