Yoga is a well-known form of exercise that helps stretch and relax a person’s body, resulting in enhanced physical fitness and balance.

And Susan Neal, a Pace resident, has helped bring the form of exercise to the forefront by creating her own form of yoga called Christian Yoga.

Christian yoga (as taught by Neal) is a class in which biblical verses are recited throughout the yoga class, during different postures. Neal said she is one of only three people in the world (that she knows of) that teaches Christian yoga, and the way she instructs her classes is one of a kind.

“We do normal yoga poses, but we recite scripture verses,” Neal said. “The other yoga instructors that teach Christian yoga play praise music.”

The scriptures are based on themes such as peace, angels and prayer.

Unlike regular yoga, which centers on the Hindu philosophy, Christian Yoga provides a Christ–centered alternative to the normal yoga routine.

Neal, who has a master’s in Healthcare Administration from the University of Florida, has been practicing yoga since 1983. She began teaching classes in 1994. She is a certified Sports Yoga Instructor with the National Endurance and Sports Training Association.

Neal was introduced to yoga when she attended the University of Florida. There she picked up a book called ”28 Days to Yoga” which introduced her to yoga poses.

Then, later on in life, she worked at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, as an assistant administrator. While she worked there, she attended yoga classes twice a week.

Before long, she got good at it. So good, in fact, that the instructor for the class would let her substitute teach the class when they were on vacation.

After working in Jacksonville, she married her husband and moved to Pace, where she has resided for 18 years.

Neal said she attended Woodbine United Methodist Church and became a born again Christian. The church has always had an exercise class, but when the exercise instructor left, Neal took the open seat and started holding the yoga classes.

Since she created her version of Christian yoga, she has come out with two DVD’s, and said she plans to make at least a dozen more.

“Each DVD has scriptures about different things like verses just on angels, and the one just about prayer,” Neal said.

Neal started introducing herself to scripture verses when she started reading “The Purpose Driven Life.”

“I now know about 200 verses off the top of my head,” Neal said. “It’s a lot easier than I thought it would be.”

Neal has also been teaching yoga classes at Pensacourt Health Club in Pensacola for 15 years. She has been teaching the class at Woodbine United Methodist Church for eight years.

Neal said the benefit to Christian yoga is that is helps exercise the body and mind while meditating in the word of God.

“Moms, seniors do it…they are beginner to intermediate classes,” Neal said. “And the seniors really love it.”

Neal said the class is open to everyone for free at Woodbine United Methodist Church.

The class is 75 minutes long, the first 25 minutes is stretching. The last ten minutes of the class, participants relax their body from the workout.

In order to safely take the class, participants must be able to sit on the floor and get back up in a standing position. They also must have a towel or mat to use for the class.

For more information on Neal and on her yoga classes, visit www.christianyoga.com. On her website, people can find out more information and buy her DVDs.



Benefits of yoga:
Improved flexibility and posture
Reduced Stress
Strengthened and toned muscles
Enhanced physical fitness
Improved concentration, coordination and balance
Increased range of motion in joints
Improved circulation



Classes:
What: Free Christian Yoga classes
Where: Woodbine United Methodist Church
When: Friday mornings from 9 a.m. to 10:15 a.m.
More information: www.christianyoga.com