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 practices into their daily prayer life. We incorporate Christian scripture, faith, and take inspiration from the ancient Christian discipline known as askesis, or spiritual striving. 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
What happens here exactly?
We have weekly 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 with customized wellness plans that integrate with and support the student’s congregation life.
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 elders and ascetics 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. 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, 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 and in silence.
Do sessions cost anything?
No, we don’t charge for the current sessions we hold at St Peter’s Episcopal, and Brookside Community Church. 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/HITT?
- 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 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, delirious, or feel as if you might faint, back off the diet challenge.
- Remember these are information and discussion, 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?
- Read the email sent out the Sunday before each PraXis session
- Good sleep the night before
- Hydrate before PraXis and keep water close during practice
- 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
- Have food prepared to eat afterward
- Try to ‘PraXis’ throughout the week until you attend your next PraXis sessionAT
HOME OR ONLINE PRACTICE
- 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.
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 is a member of the Orthodox Church in America which follows perhaps some of the oldest Christian traditions still practiced. Jamie is a member of the United Church of Christ, a dynamic and progressive denomination. 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.
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) and is in training as a personal trainer and wellness coach (NASM). He’s the husband of Jamie DeRuyter-Swart (LPC). Jamie is a licensed psychotherapist in private practice. 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 arts form.
Link: Who are we?