One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”
“The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”
“Well said, teacher,” the man replied. “You are right in saying that God is one and there is no other but him. To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.”
When Jesus saw that he had answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” And from then on no one dared ask him any more questions. (Mark 12:28-34 NIV)
I don’t think there is any other scripture in the Bible that so specifically supports the act of a holy yoga practice than Mark 12:30, above in bold.
The word used for “strength” in the Greek text is “ischuos” which means strength or might. But as usual, our English translations fall short when trying to convey the exact point another beautiful language full of meaning, like Greek, is making.
Ischous is directly related to physical strength, and is meant to conjure up images of, say, a very strong, muscular man. Think Arnold Schwarzenegger in his prime body building days:
Now, I left this scripture in context because I wanted to highlight what’s going on with this verse.
One, to ‘love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength‘ is listed as the greatest commandment. Greatest, meaning, if you get nothing else from this entire book and the entire ministry of Christ about how to live a Godly life, get THIS. You are to love Him with your heart (emotionally), mind (intellectually), soul (spiritually), and strength (physically). Nothing about Christian living outranks this command.
And two, this is Jesus talking. Christ Himself is issue this command and clarifying its priority over all other commands. I think it’s safe to take Him at His word that this scripture is totally legit and should be taken seriously.
So what does that mean for us, and what does that mean for our yoga practice?
Well, it means that our worship is not WHOLE unless it also involves our bodies, somehow. We can pray, sing songs, and study our bibles all day long, but if our worship lacks a physical aspect, it is incomplete.
And I don’t know about you, but I certainly do not want my worship to lack in anyway! Our God is worth a wholistic, reverent worship, amen?!
The practice of yoga is already one of movement, meditation, devotion, and spirituality. When Jesus is our drishti, or our gaze, and we are meditating on His Word, a holy yoga practice can, all at once, put us in a posture of worship that engages our hearts, minds, souls, and bodies, bringing us into a wholistic worship.
Now hear me, yoga is not the ONLY way to worship according to Mark 12:30.
It is just ONE way to do so. 1 Corinthians 10:31 tells us, “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God,” (NIV) so we know that literally anything we can do – whatever we are capable of doing – can be done as worship for the glory of the Lord, amen?
It doesn’t have to be yoga. But it definitely CAN be.