I wonder if people on a spiritual quest are flocking to yoga instead of Christianity because yoga is taught as a practice. Yogis take their practice to the mat, and there are obvious levels that people can strive for. The first time your heels hit the floor in a good down dog or you lift all ten of your toes off the mat in crow pose, you know that you have gotten deeper into your practice. You also learn that there are various poses to do before you can go right into a head or shoulder stand, you warm up before getting upside down. There are modifications people can make if a pose is too physically difficult and still get most of the benefits of the original pose. There are the obvious physical side affects of yoga, – you just feel better after time practicing on the mat.
These are just the superficial benefits, for many people world wide, yoga is a means to an end. People practice yoga, and limber their bodies so that they can still themselves for extended meditation time. Stillness of body and mind help us hear God. Even us Christians know that.
Of course, Christianity is a practice too, we just don’t usually talk about it in those terms. The dominant Christian conversation is about being saved for believing in Jesus, there isn’t much more after that other than a list of “thou shalt nots,” rather than “thou shalls”. Too many people leave a Christian experience feeling shamed and belittled rather than stronger and more articulate in their practice.
It’s time for Christians to re-engage the conversation of practice and reclaim the rich traditions we have inherited. I plan to keep practicing yoga, and I plan to keep practicing Christianity, they have both made me stronger and deepened my relationship with God.