Thomas Ryan directs the Paulist North American Office for Ecumenical and Interfaith Relations in New York City. As a Christian counselor and certified yoga instructor, he has the background and skills to present centering prayer and hatha yoga as devotional practices. In the first section of this helpful paperback, he discusses meditation as the prayer of the heart. He covers subjects such as historical highlights of Christian meditation, the use of a sacred word, dealing with distractions, learning to let go, and more. In the second section, the author looks at yoga as the prayer of the body with material on the bridging of East and West, the heart of yoga practice, how yoga can help a Christian pray, its holistic benefits, and more.
"Physical exercises are but the skin of yoga; its sinews and skeleton are mental exercises that prepare the way for a transformation of consciousness which is always a gift of God and a work of grace," writes Ryan. The poses center and ground us and keep us in the present moment. He believes rightly that to carry God in our bodies is both a privilege and a responsibility. For example, he recommends that the following words be used during the corpse pose ("Into thy hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit.") In Appendix V, Ryan presents some basic yoga postures and the benefits they bring, along with precautions and contraindications. Putting meditation and yoga together in one volume works well.