So here is another confession: Christmas Eve I finally told my father that I had opened up a yoga studio. The reason for this was that when I saw him in July this year, he expressed his disgust for yoga because his church believes that it is a satanist cult and doing any yoga postures might call some "ungodly" spirits to his soul. We only had a few days together and the time we spent should be about him and not about me. So I didn't end up telling him about my plans. And when the planning was underway I got too busy, or maybe I procrastinated. He ended up hearing about it from my sister and was not surprised once he heard it from me.
My father turned "born again Christian" when I was 18, and his faith has certainly impaired our relationship throughout the years. Early on I came along and even went to bible school straight after high school. This is not something I like to talk about. During this time I found myself pressured into doing things against my will. For example, I dropped contact to friends out of fear of not fitting in and out of fear of being led to sin. More of that in another blog.
This same weekend, I met a friend whose parents were also religious and we spoke about how their faith created a rip in their relationship. The conversation together with my phone call to my dad got me thinking about this thing called religion.
What I love about Yoga is that you can be of any faith, or even an atheist, and you still feel the benefits of yoga. We all have a body. We all breathe. What we believe is what makes us different. And our beliefs are formed through culture, history, family, media, events, zeitgeist.... And the cool thing is that our beliefs can change. This is also the scary thing when you belong to a church or a sect. How do you know if you are on the "right" path? How do you know if all the sacrifices you make are leading you to heaven? How do you know what's right and what's wrong?
When leaving the church as a very young adult, I asked myself these questions on a daily basis. I missed feeling connected to a higher power. While in church I had prayed every morning, now I felt lost.
Not long after leaving church, I met a friend who was a Reiki practitioner. She performed a healing on me. I felt the same energy I previously knew as "The Holy Spirit". I had to laugh out loud. So here these Christians were thinking they were the only ones benefiting from "God's Spirit" while all this time "God" was seeking any human who was seeking him (it/her)! This opened up my horizon and I started looking into Eastern philosophies. I started teaching Body Balance while working in gyms. And about one and a half decades later I found that Yoga did all of the above. No discrimination against any person or their beliefs. Simply working with the human raising awareness with the aim to seek unison with All That Is.
There is no one religion, faith, philosophy that will guaranteed lead you to heaven. Heaven is inside you. Your path, your connection with All That Is, is in your breath. Breathe out the fear of being wrong. Allow yourself to make mistakes. Embrace the opportunity to learn and grow wiser. Forgive those who see things differently to you and trust your core, your heart. When you become still and listen, your voice will guide you. Sometimes it screams at you when you don't make that time to listen. So don't worry, your voice is there. The only way to stay connected is to find a regular practice that fits in with your beliefs and with your life. Checking in daily on what lifts you up and what drags you down will keep you on your path. Daily questions on why you do things, feel things, say things help find out who you really are. As opposed to acting a way you think people expect you to.
If you can breathe then you are on the right path.