Yoga with Jesus?

Paul Mastin

2 Stars

April 12, 2012

This is an interesting little book. I have actually thought about prayer postures before, thinking about the different ways people in the Bible pray (hands lifted, kneeling, prostrate, eyes uplifted). In BodyPrayer: The Posture of Intimacy with God, Doug Pagitt and Kathryn Prill do cover those, in a way. With thirty examples of prayer postures, they offer a short reflection, a poem, and a description of each posture, illustrated by Colleen Shealer Olson. My big disappointment was that, although they offered scripture for the content of the prayers, they did not consider at all actual biblical examples of prayer posture. Their book, their choice.

I'm just not sure what to do with this book. I think there's some inspiration from other meditative traditions. Some of the descriptions sound as if a yoga instructor wrote them (not that I know anything about yoga). There's lots of relaxation, breathing deeply, etc. Take these examples: "Feel the pressure between you and the ground, created by the weight of your body." "Feel the rhythm of God in your muscles as they strain." "Permit your body's looseness to echo your submission to God." "Hold on to the feeling of relaxation in your face. Let that ease guide you in blessing all who share the world with you."

I'm sorry, but I just can't help picturing some frumpy, middle-aged, hippie yoga instructor here. I admit, I've never been accused of being a contemplative. But some of the postures and instructions are just silly. Now, some of the short example prayers are nice. But I don't buy the whole package. I think if some church leader started directing my congregation or prayer group in some of these, I would either leave in exasperation or have to leave to hide my laughing.

If you're a Christian who likes to pray while walking in one of those labyrinths, or love the pseudo-ancient church practices of the "emerging church," you'll probably love BodyPrayer. Jump right in. But it's not a book for me.