According to a new study, the number of women attending church is declining quickly. In the last two decades, the percentage has decreased by 11 points to 44% as reported from the Barna Group. Sunday school, volunteering at church and reading the Bible has also diminished. More than half of all women used to read the Bible when not in church, now only 40% reportedly do. There has also been a 17% increase in the number of women who now claim to be “unchurched.”
All of this has some scientists claiming that religion is going extinct. It’s not that people don’t value spirituality and a connection to God and the universe. It’s just that more and more people now describe themselves “spiritual but not religious”.
While there are certainly many theories as to why the number of women attending church is decreasing–including the idea that traditional religions have not kept up with modern times, I have to wonder if other spiritual practices like yoga and meditation are taking its place.
According to Yoga Journal, nearly 16 million adults in the U.S. now practice yoga, the majority of whom are women (72%). The number of Americans meditating is also on the rise with more than 9% of people reporting that they use a variety of meditation techniques. Not only do both of these practices provide healing benefits for the body, but as any fellow yogi or meditator knows, they can offer an opportunity for mindful thinking, quiet reflection and connection.
As I have seen with my own yoga and meditation, they are especially good at helping me find my true self–the one I believe God wants me to know. Through my practices, I am reminded about the importance of gratitude and living in the present. Every pose is an opportunity to be thankful for the healthy, working body I have. Every breath and every moment of stillness is an opportunity to give thanks for the amazing people in my life and all of the awesome gifts I have. Through countless hours on the mat, I am often humbled by the feelings of how small I truly am in the grand scheme of things, while also realizing the tremendous power and potential I have in this world. Yoga is not just a body-strengthening, flexibility-enhancing practice, and meditation is not just a stress-relieving, calming tool. They both keep me open-minded, filled with gratitude, over-flowing with positive emotions and, most of all, they keep me connected to something much bigger than me–all of the things I always wanted to find in church, but never did.
What about you? Do you take your religion to the mat?