Amber Jaworsky recalls a recent Holy Yoga class she taught at Mountain View Church in Highlands Ranch. During her class, she quoted Proverbs 19:11.
“A person’s wisdom yields patience; it is to one’s glory to overlook an offense.”
When she taught a yoga class at CorePower Yoga, a secular studio, Jaworsky relayed a similar message without the religious context.
“I want to talk with you today about being easily offended,” said Jaworsky, who teaches at the studio at Quebec Street and County Line Road in Centennial. “The reason I feel like this is even a noteworthy theme for our class is that it’s something that absolutely robs us and keeps us stuck and small-minded.”
Jaworsky, who has been practicing yoga for about 14 years, has found that yoga and her Christian faith complement each other. In certain settings she combines the two, other times she does not. But in all of her classes, she relays a deeper message.
“I noticed that once your body is quiet, is still, then your mind kind of follows suit,” she said. “It stops spinning, being so agitated or focused on other things. All of a sudden your soul is open to receive and able to connect.”
Yoga serves many different purposes for people, Jaworsky said, including managing stress, learning to relax, becoming more self-aware or becoming more God-aware.
“Not all who come to their mats are seeking a spiritual connection,”she said. “But I would say that most people that have adopted yoga into their lifestyle are `spiritual seekers.’ ”
Yoga, the practice of breathing, meditation and distinctive body poses that challenge one’s flexibility, originated in ancient India more than 5,000 years ago. It has roots in Hinduism and Buddhism.
The activity has become increasingly popular in past years, fitness experts say, because of its health advantages. Yoga Journal, an American media company devoted to yoga, says the activity boosts muscle strength and immunity, benefits posture, increases blood flow, improves balance, aids sleep and more.
Aside from the physical benefits, yoga is a spiritual practice that tunes into one’s inner self, according to mindbodygreen, a lifestyle media brand.
“Sincere spiritual investigation is a journey to your center,” its website says. “Along the road, all of your attachments and aversions will be challenged.”
This is the case for Wendy Crichton, a Highlands Ranch resident who has practiced yoga for more than 20 years. She describes her yoga practice as a “beautiful sort of chaotic and ever-changing experience.”
“I learn new things every single time I practice,” said Crichton, who also founded Young Yogis, a yoga program for children. “It makes my heart soar and smile. Sometimes it brings me close to tears and brings up some pretty painful stuff that I’ve tried to bury.”
Crichton said religion and yoga are two separate experiences for her. Her core belief of yoga is to bring her body, heart and mind together for an experience of wellness and wholeness, she said.
“Throughout my 25 years of practice, it has changed for me profoundly, and where I am today is probably not where I’ll be in a few years,” she said. “Right now, my yoga is a non-dogmatic exploration of the best `me’ I can become.”
Jaworsky knows that preaching a gospel message at her secular yoga studio wouldn’t be agreeable for everyone. She points out that in her experience, yoga and faith have complemented each other, which is why she also teaches yoga classes at a local church and leads women’s faith and fitness retreats in the mountains.
“I feel like the platform of instructing yoga allows me to share my life and love with yoga students in the secular community and faith community,” she said. “It’s a rich blessing for me and it fills my heart with joy to help people feel lighter from their burdens and more relaxed.”