University of Detroit Mercy alum says you can do yoga and still love Jesus

click to enlarge Yogis in tree pose during a Ignatian Yoga flow. - Facebook/Ignatian Yoga
Facebook/Ignatian Yoga
Yogis in tree pose during a Ignatian Yoga flow.

Despite being an ancient practice, yoga's popularity seems to ebb and flow over time, but there's no doubt the physical, mental, and spiritual practice has seen a resurgence of sorts in recent years.

For example, in Detroit, we've seen a number of yoga studios and concepts thrive as of late. Goat yoga, trap yoga, hip-hop yoga, rooftop yoga, aerial yoga, EDM yoga, pot yoga, hot yoga, and regular old yoga are all happening in the metro area.

The exercise has its origins in India centuries ago, where it was used to marry movement and breath for meditative and spiritual purposes. While its roots are linked to Buddhism, Hinduism, and Jainism, the western practice of yoga is mainly physical exertion coupled with pranayama breathing and brief bouts of meditation.

The yoga most Americans are practicing is mainly devoid of religion, but some Christians seem to be concerned that dabbling in the activity could be, well, sacrilegious.

But, Jesus is OK with yoga, according to University of Detroit Mercy 2016 alumnus Alan Haras.

Haras, a Rochester Hills resident, has traveled the world visiting sacred sites, practicing yoga, and learning from revered masters like Sri Dharma Mittra. He has been teaching the practice for the past 13 years and is the owner of Hamsa Yoga in Lake Orion.

After getting his master's degree in religious studies from U of D, he decided to convert to Catholicism, but he brought the yoga along with him.

Along with fellow Catholic yogi Bobby Karle, he founded Ignatian Yoga, a "movement" that marries Christian ideologies with those of yoga. The pairing, they say, was a natural fit. They contend that yogic traditions, so often associated with Hinduism or Buddhism, are quite compatible with Ignatian spirituality, a facet of Christianity that focuses on God's presence in everyday life.

“For me, it’s something that can lead us toward a deeper experience of wholeness, interior freedom, and solidarity with others," Haras says in a press release. "People can do Ignatian Yoga and afterward they are welcome to interpret that feeling of peace in a way that makes most sense to them."

Ignatian Yoga is rooted in "finding God in all things," and while Haras says it's not for everyone, he invites those who are interested in join in on what can be a transformative experience.

If you want to try Ignatian Yoga, you'll have to participate in one of their weekend-long retreats, which can cost as much as $285. To learn more, go here.

Alysa Zavala-Offman

Alysa Zavala-Offman is the managing editor of Detroit Metro Times. She lives in the downriver city of Wyandotte with her husband, toddler, mutt, and two orange cats.
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