Growing up I had very little exposure to religion. While I was Christian, we didn’t go to church, or practice prayer in my immediate home. We had a Christmas tree and my Nana said grace on Thanksgiving, but that was about it.
When I was around age eight or nine, I discovered the TV show 7th Heaven, and I became obsessed with it. 7th Heaven is a show about a reverend, Eric, and his wife, Annie, who had five children (and later seven - as the show goes on for eleven seasons and they needed to somehow change up the plot midway to keep the viewers 😂) . I owned every single DVD box set of this show and would binge watch it on TV on the weekends. 😂
What I liked about it was through the chaos of his family home, at the end of each episode, Reverend Camden made a sermon that made sense of everything that had happened. This drew me in because the idea of making meaning to your life’s circumstances was something I found healing.
I would then beg my parents to take me to church (they said no - for their reasons which I understand and respect now 😂.)
I think what I wanted from church was meaning to my life.
This is what I later got from yoga.
Yoga does not conflict with any religions. This truth I’ve seen around the world, practicing yoga everywhere from Mexico, Abu Dhabi and Indonesia. People of all faiths come together in one room, and practice surrender in together: whether they are surrendering to the universe, Allah, Buddah, or something else is up to them. What matters is that we surrender.
In the yoga sutras, Pantanjali invites us to surrender towards a god within. Sutra 1.25 is where Pantanjali teaches us the most important characteristic of the inner god we surrender to (ishvara): she has your back. She knows what you need. She serves and benefits not just you, but all beings everywhere. “the universe has your back.”
That doesn’t mean that you’ll always get what you want, but you’ll always get what you need.
“God resides in me, as me.” “The universe has your back.”
This is yoga.