The Flexibility of Faith: Holy Yoga Converts Eastern Tradition Into Christian Fitness

March 12, 2013 / by / 1 Comment

Holy Yoga instructor Gina Tricamo says the ancient Hindu tradition helps Christian students with meditation and prayer. (Photo by Darryl Webb)

Story by Rachelle Reeves
Special to GCU Today Magazine

The students in Gina Tricamo’s early-morning yoga class twisted and formed their bodies into poses as their instructor recited scripture from Ezekiel and Philippians.

Contorted and stretched-out bodies sprawled across purple mats in the Sanctuary studio. The group of young people at Grand Canyon University’s Student Recreation Center resembled a traditional yoga class. But the soothing Christian music and focus on God clearly set it apart as holier than the common exercise routine.

GCU student Alejandra Valenzuela stretches during a Holy Yoga session at the campus Student Recreation Center. (Photo by Darryl Webb)

Tricamo, a former probation officer who began teaching therapeutic yoga four years ago, said the Christian version of yoga — known as Holy Yoga — allows her to blend fitness with prayer. After seeing drug addicts, prostitutes and others turn their lives around through the Eastern meditative tradition, Tricamo knew she had found her calling. She said yoga helps people channel God. The challenge is helping students make that connection.

For some evangelical Christians, yoga’s roots in Hinduism cause them to completely avoid the practice. Some pastors have spoken out against yoga. However, practitioners on the GCU campus believe the practiced stretching and breathing help Christians focus on God’s Word.

“God wants to use His Word in every place and every situation,” Tricamo said. “And if we can bring the Word in a gentle and nurturing way to people through this practice, and that person discovers who they are, then that’s all we need to do because He truly is the author of everything.”

GCU’s Holy Yoga students said the popular Rec Center classes allow them to spend time with God and minimize the daily distractions that interfere with prayer.

GCU Rec Center Programs
Holy Yoga is the only faith-based fitness program offered through GCU’s 55,000 square-foot Student Recreation Center. Other popular classes such as turbo kickboxing and Zumba draw dozens of students weekly. Classes are free and open to all GCU students. For more information about fitness programs at the Rec Center, call 602-639-7400.

Some students have attended Rec Center yoga since their freshman year. Others said they would like to see more Holy Yoga classes offered to accommodate students, including working professionals who might not make it to campus as often. Tricamo’s classes currently draw 20 to 30 students to three weekly morning classes.

Kelsey Graner, a junior nursing student from Ohio, said Holy Yoga helped her slow down and take more time to listen to God.

“I probably would’ve never gotten into Holy Yoga, and had it help me so much, if they didn’t offer it here at GCU,” said Graner, one of the regulars in Tricamo’s classes.

“It’s really helped me in other aspects, too,” Graner said. “It’s all about breathing. Now that I’ve been doing yoga so long, I find myself doing that all the time.”

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One Response
  1. Tamera Young

    I am an online doctoral student at GCU. I was very enlightened to see this article about Holy Yoga. I am an African American and a life coach. Through my studies of stress management, I have shown an interest in yoga, including laughter yoga. I have experienced resistance from my community on stress management techniques and especially yoga. I have approached some churches regarding my stress management workshop and I was saddened that they would not even give me a chance to meet with them to discuss what I am about. Good article and I will be seeking Holy Yoga in my area (metro Atlanta, GA).

    Jun.08.2013 at 9:37 am
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