Book Review: Yoga Mass
The book YogaMass: Embodying Christ Consciousness by Gena Davis was an enlightening outlook on merging Christianity with yoga. In the text, she discusses her intention of “integration,” where she might be able to find a place where she can integrate yoga, which most view as rooted in Buddhism or Hinduism, and Christianity, which esteems the Eucharist as the body and blood of Jesus Christ. In her words, this book is for anyone who loves God and who loves yoga, meaning someone interested in the idea of combining their spiritual practice with yoga, for which she created YogaMass, a unique offering of Eucharist that incorporates yoga, breathwork, and meditation.
Davis in her book also pulls out some “sympathetic strings” that relate the Eight Limbs of Yoga and the Christian Path. This is an enlightening comparison that goes deep into both yogic tradition and the Bible. Through comparisons like these, we learn that we are more alike than we are different, and religion is simply a vehicle to God.
The author does share some helpful tips and ways of thinking about prayer and mass; for example, closing the door to your inner room is one of the ways to pray highlighted in the Bible. Davis says that you could have a space in your home where you pray or meditate, or your entire home could be your safe space to pray and reflect.
Davis outlines the Liturgy of the YogaMass at the end of the book, which has been authorized for her use as an Episcopal priest. In the Liturgy, she quotes the Gospel of Thomas, which is not in the Canon, the authoritative teaching of the Church. You can’t find the Gospel of Thomas in your Bible, but Davis emphasizes that the Gospel of Thomas highlights “inner seeing.” However, this could feel like a controversial idea to some conservative Christians who do not see the Gospel of Thomas as a viable source.
Perhaps one of the most interesting parts of the book is where she talked about Christian people’s fear of incorporating other religions into their practice. Could this be a slippery slope? Davis herself said chanting Aum at first felt like a “betrayal.” This answered my question about whether Christians found this teaching controversial. It turns out it might not be easy to accept at first.
However, in present times, with everyone living their lives in the fast lane, rushing around breathless, endlessly multitasking, YogaMass is a welcome new addition to the breadth of spiritual nourishment. If I had an opportunity, I think participating in YogaMass would be entirely worth it. Anything that brings you closer not only to the breath, but also to the source of that breath, God (the I am), is a welcome addition in my book.