ANA, Calif. ó Worship requires neither proper place nor
proper clothing. For believers, the same could be said of Godís
requires no invitation and is necessitated by no particular
Sunday morning ritual. It can sometimes show itself
ostentatiously on a Monday morning or slyly reveal itself
entirely unbidden on a Thursday at 3:15.
sometimes it can show up when you are in an uncomfortable yoga
position where you started by doing a push-up, then your left
knee dropped to the floor near your right hip and your
forearms lowered to the mat and then your right leg fell to
the floor and your right footís circulation is about done
and youíre supposed to be lifting your chest up at the same
there it is. What everyone here has come for, really. That
moment that "Iím with God by myself," explains
Courtney Scantlin, a working mother of two from Lake Forest,
Calif., who is not so unfamiliar with Godís grace that she
is blinded by the fact that she is also multitasking while
doing Holy Yoga at Marinerís Church in Mission Viejo,
Calif., on a Tuesday night.
its adherents, Holy Yoga is hardly an attempt to make worship
more convenient for the overtaxed 21st-century fitness-minded
set. Imagined 10 years ago by Brooke Boon, a yogi before she
was a Christian, its mission statement is designed to put a
halt to those Christian groups that might find the traditional
Eastern practice of yoga somehow suspect as a vehicle for
Yoga," the statement reads, "is experiential worship
specifically created to deepen your connection to Christ. Our
sole purpose is to combine world-class yoga with a
Christ-honoring experience that offers an opportunity to
believers and non-believers alike to authentically connect
with God. We do this by integrating His Word, prayer, worship
and the physical practice of yoga to contemporary and
their hair banded, barretted and bandeaued into place, 17
women of varying ages join two brave men for 90 minutes of
this unique brand of yoga led by instructor Brooke Thompson in
a room thatís painted to resemble the interior of a
submarine. Suffice to know, itís the exact exercise
experience youíd expect if you know yoga. Tonight, weíll
downward dog, strike the warrior and tree poses, form a bridge
with our bodies and make like a pigeon ó see circulation
while Thompson exhorts and leads like a normal instructor.
for this, for starters: The class begins with a prayer.
is bouncy and fun, fit and encouraging. She was once a runner.
"I was running away from my house," the mother of
three daughters laughs. Thompson says her first Holy Yoga
session was one she "went to reluctantly. Yoga looked
boring to me."
turned out to be "the most powerful experience of worship
Iíd ever had," Thompson says now. "I cried through
half of it. When I got back in the car, I told my
sister-in-law who went with me I wanted to become an
instructor." Within two weeks, sheíd signed up. Within
two months, sheíd taken daily training and was ready to
teach a beginning-level class.
calls this "full-body worship," but is emphatic that
she is not a pastor.
not interpreting Scripture," Thompson wants made clear.
"I give a life story. Or I read a devotional. Sometimes,
when we strike a pose, I suggest that each of us thank God for
10 things instead of counting to 10. I remind them not to
compare themselves to others, that God accepts us as we are. I
remind them to leave things on their mat. I also tell them
that in a balance pose, chose a focus point that does not
move. They can take that with them in life. Focus on God, the
one who does not move."
is gentle at first, then more intense, if youíre willing.
The breathing is rhythmic.
our culture," Thompson said earlier, "we like to
compartmentalize our lives. Books are for the mind.
Spirituality is for church. Fitness is in the gym. You can let
them out of their boxes here. You can place them all in one
dog," she instructs, and is then on to the next move. She
reminds that no one is keeping score. No one is timing anyone.
"No one is looking but God, and he doesnít care how
extended your leg is."
everyone tonight is wearing black Capri tights and a tank or
T-shirt in varying hues of pinks and aquas. There are a lot of
painted toenails, a few tattoos and generous dollops of
minutes in, Thompson begins to discuss I Chronicles, Chapter
4, better known these days as the Prayer of Jabez: "Oh,
that you would bless me and expand my territory! Let your hand
be with me, and keep me from harm so that I may be free from
pain." And God granted his request.
talks, throughout the 90 minutes of continual exercise and
stretching and posing, about Jabez and his lesson. About
"bless, in the biblical sense." About asking God for
more of what he wants for you.
her class if they think this rises about to the level of
knows this is radical, this selfishness prayer, in a group
mostly made of women, women who are stealing time from their
children to be here to do this one thing for themselves.
the mother of two, laughs later about that notion. A woman who
has always exercised, she says she "is multitasking, of
course. Iím a woman."
adds, she never thought to bring God into exercise before
this. "I just did my due diligence. I exercised. I now
put him in that space where you donít usually find him and
it fits so well. I am here to pray to my lord and savior.
Every pose has a healing attitude. I am facing God here. It
heals my soul."
Somers, a Ladera Ranch, Calif., mother of two, says everything
in her life is God-driven, and that the Christian music that
runs throughout the class and the words spoken to uplift her
ó "all my favorite things are here" ó cannot
help but weave well with her familyís larger goals.
quotes Acts 17:28: "For we live, move and exist because
of Him Ö"
class ends the usual way, with back-bend, lights dimmed, a
cool-down ó and another prayer. This one is more a challenge
to use your newfound strength to be more like Jabez, to ask
for more blessings from God, to not just drink from the cup of
water offered by the riverside but to jump into the river and
experience that which is life.
what fitness is supposed to be about, says Thompson. So, too,
what a spiritual life can and should be.
extend further," she has said repeatedly through the