What do you mean by Christian Wellness?

Wellness is a medical term that often refers to the conditions that lead to optimal health. Wellness is distinct from acute, therapeutic, or preventative care and tends to address the pervasive national crisis of anxiety, depression, and the struggle against diabetes 2 and heart disease. We help people integrate evidence-based wellness practices into their spiritual life. We do this by incorporate Scripture, faith, and the ancient Christian discipline known as askesis into our daily practices. These ideas inform our approach to fitness, mindfulness, and eating.

Link: Interview with Christian Wellness Guru, Father Nicholas Amato.
Link: What the Church is Getting Wrong about Wellness
Link: Crisis of health in the US and a Christian view of Wellness
Link: Áskesis and mind, body, spirit wellness

What happens here exactly?

We offer one-hour classes, including asana-based movement, Centering Prayer, and Lectio Divina. We also offer customized in-person and online programming, workshops, challenges, and retreats for parishes. Soon we hope to provide one-on-one pastoral listening and wellness coaching. Coaching can include customized wellness plans or Rule of Prayer, that integrate with and support congregation life.

Link: Check out what classes we currently offer

Is this biblical?

  • Fasting is found throughout the Old and New Testament [Psalm 69:10-11, Daniel 1:8, Isaiah 58:6,  Mark 9:29, 1 Corin. 7:5, etc].
  • Contemplation, or silent prayer is a tradition from the Desert Fathers that seeks to emulate Jesus’ times of prayer in the silence of the desert [Mark 1:12-13, Luke 5:16, etc].
  • The idea of Christian life as one of physical and spiritual challenge or striving was foundational for church Fathers such as Basil the Great and Gregory of Nyssa. We see it in Paul’s athletic metaphors in passages like 1 Corin. 9:24-27 and Phil 3:12-4. The Greek word for training, askesis, is where we get the word athlete and ascetic from.

Is attending PraXis like going to church?

PraXis is not a church, nor is it a substitute. It is a parachurch ministry. It is, however, a judgement free zone where you can share space with others (and within the heart) for communion with God. It is a prayer and fellowship group that prays in the body, in silence and in Christ [Matt 18:20].

Do sessions cost anything?

No, we don’t charge for the current sessions but a recommended donation is often encouraged. It varies depending on the class venue. Check out current class listing for details. You are invited to contribute, but nothing is expected. For other services please reach out to Cornelius.

What if I feel pain while practicing yoga/ Pilates/HIIT?

  • You should not feel pain during these exercises.  If you feel pain, back off, take a break, or practice the regressed options.
  • Be aware of all your physical injuries or challenges and honor them. If you have specific concerns (knee injury, lower back paint, etc) make sure you reach out to us and let us know.
  • When in doubt, skip the exercise

I have health issues and I’m nervous about changing my diet or doing exercise.  What do you recommend?

  • If concerned, talk to your physician or a registered dietitian about any changes you’re planning on making.  PraXis should not substitute any doctor’s advice, physical, or mental health therapy.
  • If you ever feel light headed back off any diet challenge. The idea is not to reach a goal, but to practice challenging yourself a little further. So, listen to the body, the Holy Spirit within.
  • Remember this information is for discussion only, it is not medical advice, or the Gospel.

What is Centering Prayer, and how do I do it?

Centering Prayer is a form of silent prayer that is very similar to evidence-based mindfulness. Silent prayer, sometimes called noetic or mental prayer, or pure prayer, has been practiced throughout Judeo-Christians history. However, it can be very strange and challenging for the newcomer. Several nondenominational groups promote and support Centering Prayer. We encourage you to follow the links below and try it out a bit before coming to a session.

Link: A Introduction to Centering Prayer
Link:What Demons? Interview with Christian Mindfulness Instructor Irene Kraegel
Link: Organizations that support Centering Prayer: Contemplative Outreach
Link: How to do Centering Prayer: The Contemplative Society

How should I prepare for a session of movement and silent prayer?

  • Get on the mailing list, and read the emails sent out before sessions
  • Good sleep the night before
  • Hydrate before PraXis and bring water
  • Stay open to the experience and whatever may arise for you 
  • Have a yoga mat or a soft place to practice yoga/ Pilates
  • Wear loose fitting clothes
  • Have a comfortable place to sit for contemplation or lay down on your mat if you prefer
  • Have a blanket near if it helps to have around your shoulders during contemplation 
  • Try to ‘PraXis’ throughout the week until you attend your next PraXis session

  • Have a quiet space if you are at home. 
  • Have a working laptop, or mobile device, good lighting and strong internet connection
  • Place any windows behind your laptop or mobile device
  • Minimize distractions from cell phones, visitors, pets, or children

Should Christians Do Yoga?

Yoga is not the only thing we do. But let’s address the issue. Yoga is a relatively new in the West and Christianity is the world’s largest religion. So, it’s no wonder there is no consensus on this issue yet. Some are for it, and some are against it. But it’s important to remember that ancient Christians used to think that theater was a pagan practice dedicated to the gods. Eventually, the art form was parsed from the pagan context. Now, it’s ok to go to see The Phantom of the Opera without jeopardizing your soul. At PraXis, we parse out the fitness practices of yoga from what might be called yoga mysticism. The postures in yoga, or asanas, are time-tested, closed-chain, isometric, body-weight exercises. Evidence has shown them to be an easy, safe and an effective way to stretch, build strength and work out the cardiorespiratory system without special equipment. That’s what we are doing. Sometimes we call this “sanctified yoga” or yoga-inspired movement. But it’s pretty much just the calisthenic form of yoga that you might find at any gym.

Link:Should Christians do Yoga? Confessions of a former New Age Guy, and interview with Pastor Phil Vestal

What do you believe?

PraXis is a nondenominational Nicene Christian mission. There is not a lot of conversation in the sessions, but it tends to follow a “Mere Christianity” framework, as laid out in C.S. Lewis’s eponymous book. Cornelius and Jamie are members of the Orthodox Church in America which follows perhaps some of the oldest Christian traditions still practiced. But both of them had a varied interfaith history. Cornelius practiced Buddhism for almost a decade before coming to Christ. We are deeply dedicated ecumenicalism and all denominations and people are welcomed. We have had wonderful participation from Christians of all walks as well as people of other faith traditions and the “spiritual but not religious.” The mission does not support discrimination based on gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender expression or any other grounds. 

Link:Wellness as Spiritual Practice

Is it very religious?
No, we try to be more spiritual than religious. We do brief readings from the Scriptures [Psalms, Gospels, and Epistles mostly] and occasionally short prayers from various denominations. Cornelius will often quote Eastern Christian Saints, but also other Christians, poets, great thinkers and mystics from other traditions.

Who are you guys anyway?
Cornelius Swart is a former journalist. He has a master’s in public and pastoral leadership from the Vancouver School of Theology at the University of British Columbia, Canada. He is a certified yoga instructor (YA, 200-hour RYT), personal trainer and wellness coach (NASM). He is currently also a chaplain-in-training and works at Morristown Medical Center. Jamie DeRuyter-Swart (LPC) is a licensed psychotherapist in private practice (Oregon and New Jersey). She holds a master’s in counseling from the University of Wisconsin. She also has over 15 years of experience as a fitness instructor teaching capoeira, an Afro-Brazilian martial art form. 

Link: Who are we?
Link: Jamie’s online therapy practice

What do I do next?
Email us. Or come to a session by finding us on our blog, or social media.

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