Cindy Senarighi was born to be a healer. From the physical to the mental to the spiritual, she’s been healing others all her life.
Senarighi went to the University of Minnesota-Duluth for pre-med, but switched to a nursing program at St. Luke’s in Duluth. “Nursing was definitely a call,” she says. “I do think that nurses are called in much the same way that pastors are.” And she’s done both.
Senarighi moved down to the Twin Cities, got a job at what was then Ramsey Hospital in the psychiatric department, and was teaching fitness classes at Life Time Athletic (then White Bear Racket and Swim) when she was hired as a parish nurse at St. Andrew’s Lutheran Church in Mahtomedi. It was then that she started asking questions.
“So over here we’re telling everybody about this loving God, and then I go to the hospital and I see all this pain and suffering,” she recalls thinking. “What is up with that? How do you accommodate that conversation?” To answer those questions, she went to Luther Seminary, and it helped—but she still felt like something was missing. “Jesus talked about three things,” she says. “Preaching, teaching and healing. With the healing, I felt like we could do more.”
It was the late 1990s, and she was taking yoga training classes with other instructors. During a restorative pose that focused on breathing, she had her “God moment,” she says. “It was this overwhelming warmth and comfort.” She then asked her friend and fellow instructor and churchgoer, “Wouldn’t this be cool to do at the church?” And YogaDevotion was born.
What started as just one session once a week of yoga mixed with devotionals has now spread throughout the state, with four states outside Minnesota wanting to get involved. The difference between YogaDevotion and your typical yoga is that the conversation of God is mixed in. It’s a mix of healing and faith, Senarighi says.
For Marlene Carr, the Monday night classes at St. Andrew’s are something she schedules her life around. “It just makes you feel so good,” she says. “And the faith part of it is just the frosting on the cake."
Ruby and Brian Buchmayer started going to the classes at St. Andrew’s in 2007, and when Ruby walked in, she says, she was “bone-tired. Then [Senarighi] began with a biblical reading for us to focus on.” An hour later, she and her husband walked out of the class feeling rejuvenated. “This class fills my body, mind and spirit,” Ruby says. “It is a gift!”
But the class isn’t just for those with a deep faith who attend church every Sunday. In fact, it’s a way to bridge that gap of 20- to 30-somethings who either don’t have time on Sundays or don’t find services beneficial.
Maggie Nelson was introduced to the classes through Senarighi’s daughter, and went on to become an instructor. “I was never very religious, but Cindy’s classes are structured in a way that you can find meaning and purpose regardless of your religion,” she says.
“One of my great pleasures in YogaDevotion is I’m ministering to people of many different faith traditions, and no faith traditions,” Senarighi says. “I don’t need to be the person to say, this is what you should believe. I’ve got a big God, and He can handle it.”
Senarighi posts poses/sequences regularly on their Facebook page; she’s
also working on a YogaDevotion book that will feature a pose and
devotional a week.