The lights are off. The room is quiet except for mesmerizing music in the background.
Everyone is still; their minds drifting to peaceful places.
"Place your hands in the prayer position, right at the heart," Andrea Porter quietly instructs.
(Mirror photo by J.D. Cavrich) Julie McGeary of Altoona and other students stretch during a yoga class at the Summit
(Mirror photos by J.D. Cavrich) Andrea Porter leads a yoga class at the Summit Tennis and Athletic Club. She says yoga strengthens whatever your spiritual beliefs are.
It is the start of a 90-minute power yoga class at the Summit Tennis and Athletic Club.
Porter, the instructor encourages students of all ages and sizes to stretch their bodies into various positions and rid their minds of extraneous thoughts. Power yoga is a faster-paced, more intense workout than regular yoga.
"Is there anything you need right here, right now, in this moment?" Porter asks.
Learning to the live in the moment is one of the many messages of yoga, which Porter and other yoga proponents say is important in life, regardless of your belief system.
"Once you start to learn to live in the moment, you're much more mindful of your entire life. You're able to slow your mind down and be mindful and eliminate distractions and you start to connect to what you know is really important in your heart," Porter said.
Although yoga is often seen as a spiritual exercise, yoga supporters say it is not incompatible with Christianity or any other religion for that matter.
"It strengthens whatever your spiritual beliefs are," Porter said.
So, can "Ohm" and "Amen" go hand-in-hand?
Southern Baptist Seminary President Albert Mohler doesn't think so. He recently wrote a scathing online essay asking Christians to avoid yoga, causing an uproar in the yoga community.
"The embrace of yoga is a symptom of our postmodern spiritual confusion, and, to our shame, this confusion reaches into the church," Mohler wrote.
He argued that Christians who practice yoga must either deny the reality of what yoga represents or fail to see the contradictions between their Christian commitments and their embrace of yoga. Jack Park, pastor of Bible Baptist Church in Tyrone, tends to agree.
Although he admits he doesn't know a lot about yoga, anything that does not center on Christ is not compatible with Christianity.
"It's a person dealing with themselves and not God," Park said. "You truly will not find fulfillment in anything unless Christ is involved."
"A person who detaches himself from reality - that is a very very dangerous thing," Park said. They're trying to find something that will fill that void. There is only one thing and that's Christ. God has made us naturally with that void that he can fill."
Some Baptist leaders, however, say they need to learn more about yoga before determining whether the stretching discipline is incompatible with Christianity.
Pastor Cory Hartman of First Baptist Church of Hollidaysburg said the biggest factor is intent.
"When a person is doing yoga, does the person think that he or she is communicating with the Divine by doing that? And, if so, what 'Divine' is that person communicating with? Is the person communicating with a triune God or is the person communicating with an impersonal force when they're doing yoga, or is the person communicating with the God within them while they're doing yoga? That's what starts to separate it out," Hartman said.
If he knew members of his congregation were practicing yoga, Hartman said he would probably approach them and try to learn more. Why do they do it? What is their state of mind?
"I don't want to leave you with the impression that yoga is fine and no big deal. I think intent and belief in what you're doing spiritually is really a critical thing. That could be a deal breaker," Hartman said.
Hollidaysburg Church of the Brethren Pastor Marlys Hershberger, who practices yoga, also believes intent is critical.
When she practices yoga, she focuses on God by repeating lines of Scripture and hymns in her head.
"I find that yoga does help with the physical, mental and spiritual well-being if we're still centering on God," Hershberger said.
A couple of years ago, Shari Hinish of Altoona taught a weekly yoga class at the Hollidaysburg Church of the Brethren, where she is a member. As a yoga instructor, Hinish focused on inner peace and the physical aspects of the exercise, not religion.
"Yoga is for everyone," Hinish said. "It's not about religion, but if you want to make it about religion, you can. If you want to focus on God or Jesus or someone when you're meditating, that's great. But we don't talk about religion in class. It's more internal."
In his essay, Mohler argued that Christians should not meditate intensely to maintain a physical posture.
"There is nothing wrong with physical exercise and yoga positions in themselves are not the main issue. But these positions are teaching postures with a spiritual purpose," Mohler wrote.
Laura Michaels, a yoga instructor at the YMCA in Hollidaysburg encourages her students to tap into their spiritual sides, but the class is primarily physical poses.
"It does engage that mind-body connection," she said.
In the opinion of many yoga supporters, quieting the mind and relaxing the body are not at odds with Christianity.
"The main thrust of it for me is to relax the body and the mind because so much of daily living involves stress that can manifest into physical problems. My goal is not some big spiritual thing. My goal is to just relax. I don't want people to be afraid they can't do yoga because of their religious beliefs. It's just not true," Michaels said.