Reasons Why Yoga Is Not Good For Christians
by Dr. Laurette Willis .
Would you agree that there are spiritual forces we cannot see?
You may be surprised to learn that yoga, which many think is just exercise, is actually a spiritual practice. Christians may think twice before starting a yoga practice please.
1. Yoga is Dedicated to a different lord . You can learn more about The Lord of Yoga HERE.
2. Yoga leads people away from Christ. Yoga means to yoke and it’s a different yoke than the one Jesus refers to For My yoke is easy and My burden is light .
3. Yoga poses are offerings to the 330 million Hindu gods . Acts 15:29 says to abstain from THINGS offered to idols. Learn more about Yoga poses, breathing and hand gestures HERE.
INSTEAD, PraiseMoves Postures focus on the Word of God we meditate upon or speak aloud while doing stretching, strengthening postures. The Foundation of PraiseMoves is the Word of God. The exercise is the witty invention to get you more into the Word of God, and MORE OF THE WORD OF GOD INTO YOU!
4. Yoga has a spiritual nature that is psychic and metaphysical. This is one reason why experts, such as Professor Subhas Tiwari of the Hindu University of America says, Yoga is Hinduism.
Professor Tiwari also said, Efforts to separate yoga from its spiritual center reveal ignorance of the goal of yoga. .
I Quickly Realized That Doing Yoga Takes A Lot More Concentration And Discipline Than I Anticipated
Although there are a few different kinds of yoga, I kept things simple by doing Vinyasa yoga, which involves stringing multiple poses together without stopping while focusing on your breathing.
Since I’m a yoga newbie, I also referenced a number of YouTube videos including ones from Adriene Mishler of Yoga With Adriene, who has a “Foundations of Yoga” series that’s meant for beginners like myself.
I started by trying to hold a number of poses for 45 seconds each: the mountain, tree, standing bow, triangle, camel, cobra, bow, side lunge, chair, and eagle and my legs were shaking by the time I was done.
Right off the bat, I was struggling and I was surprised to find myself drenched in sweat after trying these moves. I’d never realized exactly how strenuous yoga could be.
I also underestimated the level of mindfulness it would take to get through this workout, especially since my lack of balance made it difficult to smoothly move through the different poses.
At one point, I even twisted my right wrist and fell on my face because I was trying to do a sun salutation and wasn’t paying attention when I tried to hop into a downward-facing dog.
Is Yoga Dangerous For Christians
Not necessarily. Yoga could just be exercise. In todays culture, yoga can simply be intense stretching. It is just a moment where you can breathe , simply to calm your spirit.
Someone in a gym is not trying to seek and engage in the spiritual realm or be like the Hindu gods. This person is just wanting to calm themselves, stretch, and lose some weight. They are not performing yoga in a spiritual way, but they are participating for their health.
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Yoga To Come Closer To Christ
Many forms of Christian yoga assign Christian terms and prayers to certain yoga postures or sequences and replace South Asian imagery, such as the popular Om symbol, with Christian imagery, such as the cross. Other forms, such as WholyFit and PraiseMoves, remove all explicitly yogic language and imagery, including the term yoga itself, to avoid associations with yogas historical connections to other religions.
Some Catholics are also teaching yoga as a Christian practice. The Reverend Anthony Randazzo, a priest at Notre Dame Roman Catholic Church in New Jersey and co-author of Beatitudes, Christ and the Practice of Yoga, has taught yoga for years. He insists that yoga has always brought him closer to Christ.
Christian yoga is not just an American thing. Indian Catholic priest Joseph Pereira has written about Christian yoga and teaches yoga for the practice of Christian meditation to Indian audiences. Pereiras Kripa Foundation also uses yoga as a component of recovery from alcohol or drug addiction as well as a form of support for those living with HIV.
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But What About The Apostle Pauls Teaching
But what about what the Apostle Paul teaches us in 1 Corinthians 8? He writes to the Corinthians concerning eating food offered to idols and says, Therefore, as to the eating of food offered to idols, we know that an idol has no real existence, and that there is no God but one. For although there may be so-called gods in heaven or on earthas indeed there are many gods and many lords yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist .
Paul goes on to explain that not everyone has this knowledge and therefore is still convicted about eating food offered to idols. He also goes on to say that it is sinful to participate in eating this food in front of people convicted by it. Paul states, Therefore if food makes my brother stumble, I will never eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble . Could Pauls teaching here apply to yoga, too? Does this make yoga permissible for us as Christians?
I think there is a plausible argument here, but I dont see it as the same. Even though there is no such thing as other gods besides the One True God , there is an enemy who prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour . And there is a spiritual world . Therefore, wed be wise to think deeply about yoga.
Can Christians Do Yoga
Ever thought about whether Happy Baby, Half-Moon, Rag Doll, and Gorilla were consistent with your faith? Or even had anything to do with it at all? I happen to be someone who likes how my body feels after Warrior 3 and Plow. Im also the same person who wrote a letter to my school board expressing concern over some yoga and meditation practices I saw creeping into our public schools. Yoga has many contexts, many types of instructors, and people who practice it for all different reasons.
So Id say the answer to can Christians practice yoga? is .Yes, But. Only if youve actually thought about what youre doing.
Yoga is most closely associated with Eastern religions like Hinduism and Buddhism. Many who practice it in an Eastern religious context use it with meditation and as part of achieving the spiritual goals of unity with God and nature as well as unity with what is called your divine self. Trouble for Christians is, the Bible says we meditate on Gods Word, that we are not divine in ourselves and that God and nature could never be one.
So can we still do Airplane pose?
There is a Creator and his creation. The creation is not to be worshipped.
If you want to follow Jesus and do yogayou cant stop short of thinking through the implications of what yoga means to you and what youre actually doing when you practice it.
Heres how I handle yoga to be consistent with my faith: I make a hard separation between the physical and spiritual practice.
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Three Reasons Christians Should Think Twice About Yoga
Can yoga be completely stripped of Hinduism and even Christianized? Many Christians believe it can. In fact, some churches and Christian colleges, like Wheaton College and Gordon College, even offer yoga classes. Christian yoga proponents admit that yoga originated as a form of Hindu worship. But, as an article posted to the Wheaton College website says, yoga today is often just an ancient system of postures and breathing thats largely void of religious overtones. Similarly, an article in Relevant Magazine argues that though Hinduism involves yoga all yoga is not Hinduism. In fact, the article suggests, yoga can be Christian. Its one of those things like Christmas and Easter, which once was pagan, but now has been co-opted for Christian worship.
What Does Modern Yoga Look Like
Yoga, as it is practiced in the West today, certainly diverges from the yogic practices of ancient India. Yoga is a popular exercise that combines breathing, movement, and meditation. Imported to the United States from India over a century ago, yoga has long been praised for its physical and spiritual benefits.
Research shows yoga can help manage stress, ease depression and anxiety, improve mood, and enhance the quality of sleep. In addition, yoga has been shown to increase flexibility, improve balance and coordination, reduce pain, and increase strength. This adds to the modern-day support of yoga, as it is seen for its health benefits rather than its spiritual practices.
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Biblical Evidence Against Yoga
1. A Lesson from Daniel
Last year I studied the book of Daniel. This study gave me a framework around why yoga might not be right for me.
The book of Daniel tells the account of the Israelites from Judahs captivity by the Babylonians. King Nebuchadnezzar chose Daniel, one of the youths from Judah, to live in his palace. For three years, King Nebuchadnezzars household taught Daniel literature and the language of the Chaldeans . He also gave Daniel a new, Chaldean name. Even though Daniel did not outwardly oppose the education or the name King Nebuchadnezzar gave him, in Daniel 1:8 we read, But Daniel resolved that he would not defile himself with the kings food, or with the wine that he drank.
Why did Daniel resist the kings food? Commentaries suggest different reasons, but the most probable is that Daniel wanted to distinguish himself from the Babylonians and their false gods. Most likely, Daniel didnt have much say in his education or the name they called him, but refusing to eat and drink the kings food showed his reliance on God. It revealed his identity as Jewish and not Babylonian.
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Does Doing Yoga Make You A Hindu
For many people, the main concern in a yoga class is whether they are breathing correctly or their legs are aligned. But for others, there are lingering doubts about whether they should be there at all, or whether they are betraying their religion.
Farida Hamza, a Muslim woman living in the US , had been doing yoga for two or three years when she decided she wanted to teach it.
“When I told my family and a few friends, they did not react positively,” she recalls. “They were very confused as to why I wanted to do it – that it might be going against Islam.”
Their suspicions about yoga are shared by many Muslims, Christians and Jews around the world and relate to yoga’s history as an ancient spiritual practice with connections to Hinduism and Buddhism.
Last year, a yoga class was banned from a church hall in the UK. “Yoga is a Hindu spiritual exercise,”said the priest, Father John Chandler. “Being a Catholic church we have to promote the gospel, and that’s what we use our premises for.” Anglican churches in the UK have taken similar decisions at one time or another. In the US, prominent pastors have called yoga “demonic”.
One answer to the question of whether yoga really is a religious activity will soon be given by the Supreme Court in the country of its birth, India.
So is yoga fundamentally a religious activity?
Whether that is compatible with Christianity, Islam and other religions is debatable.
Yoga has been repackaged in the US as well.
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After A Few Weeks I Was Getting Compliments On My Posture And Surprisingly My Complexion
Although I didn’t feel like I was getting as much of a workout from yoga compared to my previous routines, I noticed that my balance had improved. I’m notoriously clumsy, but I felt more stable and graceful than usual.
I also started to look and feel less bloated. And after nearly three weeks of yoga, a few of my friends commented that I seemed taller and my mom pointed out my improved posture.
But the compliments that really shocked me were the ones about my face.
Toward the end of the month, numerous people told me that my face seemed more lifted and sculpted than usual and some even asked me if I’d recently gotten a facial since my skin had a slightly dewy, radiant look.
Since I’d received so many comments on my complexion, I did some digging and found out that “yoga glow” is a real thing.
Yoga can increase the blood flow to your face and contribute to less inflammation, meaning that it can help your skin appear more glowy and less bloated or puffy than usual.
If There Are Medical Benefits From Practicing Yoga Then Why Should Christians Not Be Able To Practice Yoga
With any physical fitness, there are going to be some positive medical benefits. There are many other great physical fitness programs that are out there with great benefits. So why take the chance in meddling with something that comes from, and is associated with, a false view of salvation? Why do we feel like we have to use an exercise that has religious values from a false religious system? Yoga is different than other exercise systems because it is more than just exercise. The point of yoga is to combine body, mind, and soul together.
There are a few reasons why Christians should abstain from practicing yoga.
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What Does Yoga Mean To Christians In India
Christians living in India are also conflicted about this ancient practice. In a culture where yoga is both spiritually and physically embraced, Christians are naturally more cautious about practicing yoga in their cultural context.
Some Christians engage in yoga with their Hindu neighbors as a way to introduce the gospel, but The Syro-Malabar Church says that approach is confusing Indian Hindus.
Many Hindus view the love of Christians towards yoga as part of a covert attempt to convert people and as an unnecessary infringement on Hindu customs, according to The Syro-Malabar Church in the Faithwire.com article.
According to the 2011 census, 79.8% of the population of India practices Hinduism and 2.3% identify as Christians. In an environment like this, is the urging for Christians to avoid yoga a legalistic rule? Or is it simply a way for Christians to love their neighbor. While Christians in America may be at liberty to stretch freely in yoga poses, Christians in India may be right to consider a more culturally sensitive approach with their Hindu neighbors.
Can Yoga Be Harmful
Despite its touted health benefits, there are numerous warnings in authoritative yoga literature which caution that yoga can be physically, mentally, and spiritually harmful if not practiced correctly.
For instance, Swami Prabhavananda warns of the potentially dangerous physical effects that might result from yoga breathing exercises: Unless properly done, there is a good chance of injuring the brain. And those who practice such breathing without proper supervision can suffer a disease which no known science or doctor can cure.
In addition, many yogis warn that yoga practice can endanger ones sanity. In describing the awakening of kundalini Gopi Krishna records his own experience as follows: It was variable for many years, painful, obsessiveI have passed through almost all the stages ofmediumistic, psychotic, and other types of mind for some time I was hovering between sanity and insanity.
Finally, however, from a Christian perspective it seems that yoga could also be spiritually harmful. To understand why, lets return to the experience of kundalini. Yoga scholar Hans Rieker declares, Kundalini the mainstay of all yoga practices. But what exactly is kundalini and why is it so central to yoga practice?
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What Does The Bible Say About Controversies Like Yoga
Christians have struggled to determine what is right or wrong for them to do for centuries. The Corinthian church lived in a sinful city full of pagan practices, and Paul encouraged them to be wise about their choices in 1 Corinthians 10:23:
I have the right to do anything, you saybut not everything is beneficial. I have the right to do anythingbut not everything is constructive.
There is indeed a lot of freedom in the Christian faith because our God has always been the God who looks at the heart.
The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart,1 Samuel 16:7.
But Paul reminds us that our freedom in Christ is not a wild freedom to do whatever we want. Loving our neighbors is a hallmark of a mature Christian.
You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh rather, serve one another humbly in love. For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: Love your neighbor as yourself, Galatians 5:13-14.
Christians have an extremely helpful resource in the Holy Spirit to guide them. Seek the Holy Spirit as you face choices to either practice yoga or refrain from it, or judge those who do or dont practice.
Be careful, however, that the exercise of your rights does not become a stumbling block to the weak,1 Corinthians 8:9.