It sometimes feels that talking about religion in the United States is like trying to teach baseball to people who’ve already been beaten with the bats. The symbols of Christianity have been so abusive to some people that the symbols do not seem to point to love and life, but only to trigger memories of dogma and domination.

For some of those wounded people, the best way to get past such trauma is to learn from other religious practices. For many, yoga is a good way to return to a healthy idea of what religion can be. The word “yoga” is related to the word “yoke” that Jesus used to refer to his own approach.

Most Westerners do not realize that yoga is much more than the stretching exercises we usually call “yoga”. Almost anything we do can be yoga if approached with mindfulness. According to Patanjali, the founder of yoga, the point is to still the mind. In other words, the point of any religious practice is not to fill our heads with beliefs, or to make us fearfully obedient. The purpose of any healthy religious practice is to break our everyday trances and to help us feel our original relationship to nature and each other.

Jesus said the point of any religious practice is to bring us to love. Following the call of Jesus means, for many, leaving Christianity as it is usually practiced. Any practice that awakens you to love will lead you where you need to be. It may even be possible to return to play the real game of baseball without having a spasm everytime someone raises a bat.