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Story | Why I Stopped Including Yoga Poses in my Pilates Classes
January 23, 2020
While Hindus understand that yoga stretches cannot be separated from the spiritual (demonic) world they were designed to engage, Western health and fitness instructors have attempted to persuade their clients that yoga is a legitimate path to wellness with no spiritual consequences. Tracy Fenn, a member of JoshGen, disagrees and shared with us her journey of removing all yoga stretches from her Pilates classes in response to promptings from the Holy Spirit.
I was initially a ballet teacher and Pilates instructor and, as I married my husband Greg and our family grew – and afternoons grew busier, I taught less ballet and more Pilates in the mornings. I became certified through Stott Pilates and Body Control Pilates and have been teaching for the last 17 years.
Pilates in itself is considered spiritually ‘neutral’ - though in recent years, a blend or mingling of yoga into mainstream fitness has gained huge popularity worldwide. I had in previous years attended yoga classes as a Christian, trying to rationalise that I wasn’t participating spiritually and ‘only doing the stretches’, despite the Holy Spirit’s prompting me to run!
It was exhausting trying to ‘block’ all the meditation and spiritual cues: not relaxing at all! So, I was properly convicted and stopped attending classes altogether. Then about four years ago God took me through a powerful process of deliverance and freedom as I surrendered to Him, and part of that was repenting of doing yoga.
Shortly after, I had a conversation with our lead elder’s wife and she said that it was probably not a good idea even to do the ‘moves’ outside a yoga class, nor ‘just as stretches’. This challenged my thinking, as my mind reasoned that this was a little extreme – even toddlers play themselves into ‘downward dog’, ‘cobra’, ‘child’s pose’ and sit cross-legged in complete innocence.
But... I knew that I only see in part and that I can trust those whom God has set over me to shepherd my heart. I decided to remove all traces of yoga poses from my classes, which started a process of untangling and retraining and proved to be quite challenging. I soon realised I could only do this with the Holy Spirit’s help and guidance, which is what I have been doing ever since; praying before and during classes and seeking His guidance in finding safe alternative stretches, being creative with movements and exercises so that nothing that resembles yoga is left.
At the time I lost a few long-standing and regular clients that had enjoyed the classes as they were before. I’m not sure about how the theology of it all works, but I do know that don’t want to walk my feet into any of the slightest darkness or become ensnared in any way. My desire is to stand before my Father one day with clean hands and a pure heart.
I also felt led by the Holy Spirit to watch my verbal cues while teaching: to stay away from guided imagery and to keep my cues more anatomy- and movement-based.