Welcome to Yahweh Yoga!
Graduate Story: Marie Powers
Why did you decide to become a Christian Yoga Teacher?
In 2007, I started on a journey toward life transformation. After years of pills, potions, diets, and exercise plans, I still weighed 298 pounds. Everything I tried in the past had failed me. I lost weight, but it always came back with a few extra pounds. This time, I decided to try some new avenues and be open to new ideas. This time it was going to be a lifestyle change.
After losing approximately 50 pounds on my own, I sought out a personal trainer. He suggested early on that I add yoga classes in addition to our intense workouts. As a Christian, I was very skeptical about yoga, but I wanted to be open to new ideas, so I agreed to try a class or two, with the condition that I would not continue if I felt my faith compromised in any way. The classes were secular, hatha yoga classes, but the focus was on the movement and flow, without any religious or New Age overtones. Although the moves were very hard for me and I struggled through the classes, I very quickly realized that yoga did something for me that none of my other physical activities could do, so I maintained a consistent practice.
Fast-forward to 2010: I am at a healthy weight, very fit, and a personal fitness trainer myself. I lift heavy weights and compete in triathlons, so my training is very intense. I love all of it, but yoga still does something in and for me that none of my other activities ever will. Besides keeping me flexible and balanced, yoga keeps me centered and at peace. It definitely keeps me in the present moment.
Through hard times, my relationship with God definitely has given me strength to make it through the trials. However, sometimes as Christians, we feel inadequate or guilty when we have a hard time making it through the storm. Many precious saints are depressed and have no zest for life. Their depression worsens because a Christian “shouldn’t feel that way.” I know that they would feel better about life and themselves with a little movement, but being a Christian many times keeps them away from a gym or yoga class for fear of compromise.
My heart’s desire is to take Christian yoga classes to a place of comfort (their church), among Christian sisters and brothers, and to incorporate scripture and worship. I know from my own experience that Christian yoga can bring them wholeness; transformation in body, soul, and spirit; a deeper relationship with God; and new horizons.
What has practicing Christian Yoga meant to your relationship with God?
Life can be very hectic, and many times, I find myself not getting enough time in the Word with the Lord. I can feel drained and spent, but when I get on my yoga mat and move to my worship tunes, I find myself in the presence of God. I am swept up in the spirit of worship and bathed in His presence. Concerns, anxieties, and frustration melt away. I always end my yoga sessions in awe of God’s marvelous work in my life, and in total gratitude to the Lover of my soul.
What benefits do you receive by practicing Christian Yoga?
When I worship on my mat, I am able to turn off the “tape recorder” of negative thoughts in my head and see myself and others as God sees. I gain clarity and perspective on current life situations. When I’m in a difficult yoga pose, Christian yoga also reinforces the truth that “all this will too pass.” My practice spills over into others areas of my life and gives me endurance and courage to run the race of faith. When I run/bike/swim in real-life races, my yoga breath and the peace and gratitude from my yoga practice help me to endure to the finish.
How has Christian Yoga helped your health?
We were created a triune being; body, soul, and spirit. As Christian yoga lifts me up in spirit, it affects my health and mental fortitude. Yoga literally massages every internal organ. It has given me the flexibility to participate in sports I was never able to do, even in my younger years (I’m 54 at the writing of this article). It keeps me limber and keeps me from being sore from my other activities. My digestion has improved 100 percent. Mentally, yoga keeps me balanced and able to sail through life circumstances with grace and serenity.
How has Christian yoga helped your personality “off the mat”?
Christian yoga has given me an even greater appreciation for all people. I have become more encouraging and accepting of others. Because Christian yoga has helped me to accept my own body and person, I have more to give to others. I am more open and able to impart life, vitality, and love to others.
What made you choose to study at Yahweh Yoga?
I felt led to become a certified yoga teacher, so I occasionally checked out schools in Yoga Journal and online. I wasn’t drawn to any of them, and each one seemed to attach something to yoga that I knew would make me uncomfortable in my spirit, so I prayed about it for a while. I saw Yahweh Yoga’s ad in Yoga Journal and felt a little pull, but I still was uncertain. I began to research Christian yoga schools online, didn’t reach a decision. One of my local yoga teachers had signed up for Yahweh Yoga. She returned with renewed vigor and a much more serene spirit. She was totally thrilled with her experience there. After more prayer and talking with Courtney Chalfant, I decided this was where God was leading me.
What was your favorite part of the Yahweh Yoga Teacher Training Experience?
I have to pick one?! My teachers, Courtney and DeAnna, are awesome and precious sisters. The camaraderie and encouragement of the group was fantastic. I appreciated how Yahweh Yoga brought in other yoga teachers and experts in raw food, yoga therapy, inversions, etc. We experienced many different styles of teaching and practice. Both the online and hands-on parts of the course were well thought-out and gave us the necessary skills. Even though our group was big, there was ample personal attention. But what I appreciated most was that Courtney and DeAnna did not limit anyone. They encouraged each one to reach their potential, whatever that was. They demonstrated that there would be a place and niche for each person.
How long was it before you began teaching after your training?
I returned home from Yahweh Yoga and began my first 8-week series in a local church within three weeks. My first private session was a week later. I substitute taught a 3-week class for another Christian limited mobility class (boy, did I learn oodles from those seniors!) and began regularly substituting for a local gym soon thereafter.
What does teaching Christian Yoga mean to you?
It is both an awesome blessing and an awesome responsibility. Christian yoga has done such a work in my body, soul, and spirit. It is a blessing to play a part in God’s restoration and transformation of others. It also is an awesome responsibility that I do not take lightly. For others to experience God’s love, to understand and apply scripture to their lives, and to be renewed in my class is the greatest reward in this world.
What do you hope people feel when they experience your class?
God’s love and care, His presence, His arms; peace in and about themselves and their world; hope for renewal and transformation; wonderful physical and health changes; and LIFE!
Anything else you would like to share?
The Yahweh Yoga training was top-notch. I am amazed by Courtney and DeAnna’s perseverance to make it what it is today. They are great examples of what can be accomplished with God’s leading, throwing off limitations, persevering, and reaching for the heavens! I also am impressed that Yahweh Yoga is not a “one man” or “mother/daughter” show. They are humble and secure enough to embrace other yoga teachers, other styles, and even other studios. Living in the Midwest, our repertoire of yoga often is limited to a basic flow, so it was nice to experience other styles and types. It truly is “body ministry.”
“Instead, we will hold to the truth in love, becoming more and more in every way like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church. Under his direction, the whole body is fitted together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.” Ephesians 4:15,16 – New Living Translation
Marie offers personal fitness training and private yoga instruction through Maples Training & Fitness Center in Branson, MO (417-239-1199), where she also teaches a weekly life transformation class. If you would like Marie speak to your church, to organize a Christian yoga class, or help you find current Christian yoga classes, contact her personally at 417-598-0144. In the near future, she will have a website at www.whollytransformed.com.