It’s fair to say Seattle’s oldest Christian congregation, First United Methodist Church, founded in 1853, is unafraid of breaking new ground.
On Saturday mornings, from 9 to 10 a.m., the church at 180 Denny Way, just west of the Seattle Center, features a Christian yoga session called Pax Christi Yoga.
Elsewhere, Christian yoga has been denounced in certain fundamentalist circles in no uncertain terms, but yoga, which originated in ancient India, doesn’t necessarily contradict Christian teaching, according to the church’s Rev. Dr. Sandy Brown.
“I recognize there are some people who believe that yoga is Hindu,” Brown said. “I disagree with that. (Yoga) movement can lead us toward prayer that leads us toward Jesus.”
Brown pointed out that Christianity has a long history of meditation and mystical exploration.
“I found myself doing yoga practice, and there I was praying the psalms,” Brown recalled of his first experience with the practice a decade ago.
If the rap on Seattle is that it is un-churched, Brown sees another side to the city.
“We’re in the middle of condos and apartments,” he said. “I’d watch young people walking down the street with yoga mats and I thought, there’s so much spirituality here.”
Janet Crawley leads the yoga sessions, which started in January and draw up to 15 people each Saturday.
“I don’t believe there is a conflict,” she said of Christian yoga. “It’s about honoring the divine and finding the divine in yourself.”
Crawley said she focuses on Scripture and creates a prayer woven into the yoga sessions, “centering ourselves into a sacred space and from there we begin the yoga movement.”
Crawley also said Christian yoga is not all about the self.
“We become more mindful of each other,” she said. “It allows you to open yourself to help others.”
There is no admission charge. A free-will offering is accepted. Information: firstchurchseattle.org/paxchristiyoga/