A spiritual twist has been added to the cocktail of exercises known as yoga.
Two Valley women have been teaching Christian yoga for years now and will be holding an upcoming event to introduce it further to the public.
The concept for Christianity-centered yoga has sprung up across the country, but Elena Porter pioneered it in Arizona in 2002. She had been a yoga instructor for years and realized that her experience could be better.
"I found yoga to be very peaceful," Porter said. "But I did not find it to be very spiritual."
So one day, she decided to try something different and focus her thoughts on a specific Biblical verse before she began her exercises for the day. It was that idea that would plant the seeds for the growth of Christian yoga at her church and around the Valley.
"I felt like I had an incredible spiritual experience," Porter said. "So I was encouraged by a friend to pursue teaching Christian yoga."
She said she went to her pastor at Mountain Park Community Church, 2408 E Pecos Road, with the intention of talking to him about possibly starting a class for the public.
"I don't know what compelled me to do it, but afterwards I was freaking out thinking, ‘I'm about to teach this class,'" Porter said. "Never in my mind did I think it would catch on."
Porter said that they see about 150 people each week for classes but she expects that figure to grow once six new classes and four new teachers, including Brooke Boon, who started Holy Yoga, are added to the MPCC ministry.
Boon, an Ahwatukee Foothills resident, started an international ministry and, more than two years later, has seen 113 new people become certified as teachers in Holy Yoga.
"It's still very much yoga and anyone that practices will still get a real yoga experience," Boon said. "The difference is that Holy Yoga is based on the word of God. It's about looking at his word in an applicable way."
Boon said that it is another, peaceful way to have a worship experience and get exercise.
"In a physical sense, there is a vibration and frequency our bodies operate on," Boon said. "Our energy through Holy Yoga elevates the frequency for a full-blown experience."