Cultural Glimpse

Enjoying diversity

Tag: yoga

Combining Yoga and Journaling

Journaling

I love journaling and I love yoga. So when my niece Sandy, a yoga instructor, asked me to participate in a trial yoga and journaling class for her upcoming studio workshop, I was delighted to do so. I have been doing yoga for over ten years and many instructors have incorporated creative ideas along with this practice but journaling was never one of them – although it makes perfect sense to combine the two.

Many times in my yoga class the instructor would say a profound statement or I myself received an inner message, a revelation which I wanted to jot down. I would remind myself to take note of these things at home, only to get too preoccupied. I’d leave the yoga studio, pick up my children from the daycare center, and arrive home to a list of unfinished household chores. By nighttime, whatever I wanted to write left my mind and like a bird flew into the sky.

When Sandy led this yoga and journaling class Tuesday afternoon, I enjoyed the moments in between the meditations and yoga movements where we had the opportunity to look within and write about certain experiences.  It was a lovely, meaningful and deep way to start the day, with its positive energy spilling over into the evening and night.

As I write this, I recall an interview with Billy Hayes, who wrote a book about his life in a Turkish prison, Midnight Express. The story was later made into an award winning film by Oliver Stone.  Hayes says that yoga saved his life in jail.

“Stress kills,” Hayes said in the interview. “Yoga keeps me healthy, helps me chill. Emotionally, it keeps me balanced. It saved me in jail. In prison, you have no control over anything except you; you still have yourself, your own body, so yoga gives you back that control that the prison takes away.”

Today Hayes works with James Fox on the Prison Yoga Project.

Writing has had a similar healing, growing and thriving effect on people.

“When you write down your ideas you automatically focus your full attention on them. Few if any of us can write one thought and think another at the same time. Thus a pencil and paper make excellent concentration tools.” Michael Leboeuf

Imagine the power of combining these two activities into our regular routine.

For more information about this workshop, visit www.sandynaimou.com

pure intention 2-26-15

The Forbidden Yoga

Yoga at Manresa Jesuit Retreat Center

Yoga at Manresa Jesuit Retreat Center

Last year, I asked my editor if I can write an article about a Chaldean American yoga instructor that held classes at my gym. She said okay, except she wanted it to address the belief that yoga is against our Catholic faith. I thought, oh my God, I may have been committing sin for over twelve years!

I interviewed several people: the yoga instructor at my gym; the yoga instructor at Manresa Jesuit Retreat Center; and a Jesuit priest. All talked about the positive health factors associated with yoga. I tried to get a quote from one of the half dozen Chaldean Catholic priests but they didn’t have an opinion on this matter, given it was a foreign subject for them. No wonder I never saw a Chaldean person in a yoga class.

After the article was published, a local non-Chaldean priest sent a letter to the editor stating that there are significant concerns about yoga’s compatibility with the Christianity/Catholic faith. The biggest problem with yoga, he wrote, is that one is going to a source other than Jesus for inner peace. There is no peace apart from Him “who is our peace” (Eph. 2:14). He also called its origin occult. This was all new information to me, especially since many of the postures we performed in yoga classes were common exercises we did in Iraq.

Well, sin or not, I ended up in a yoga class last night, and thank God for that. I have not been able to go for a while because lately the gym’s daycare is not my son’s most favorite place. My husband, seeing my frustrations, said he’d watch the kids and encouraged me to go out there and commit this “sin” – though he did not know that’s what it was. We’ll just keep that a little secret.