In The Pursuit Of Health And Fitness Some Christians Have Begun To Explore The Practice Of Yoga Not Understanding The Spiritual Ramifications Involved Lets Look At The Origins Of This Eastern Custom And Its Real Objective
The 1970s was a decade that saw enormous changes throughout the Western world. Massive political upheaval, the sexual revolution, developments in art, literature and music that are still influencing us today. At the same time there were seismic shifts in the religious landscape also. Many people were disillusioned with the establishment, including the established church; they rejected Christianity completely . Whilst some of those leaving the church abandoned religion altogether, others looked for alternatives – and many alternatives could be found in the East. This was partly fuelled by famous personalities experimenting with Eastern philosophies and religions and partly by a realisation that sex, drugs and rock n roll could not provide fulfilment.
Much of this Eastern religious thinking was repackaged for a Western audience. Elements of Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism and the like, were sanitised, often mixed together under the umbrella of the New Age Movement, a movement which continues to grow to this day.
Whilst there is no singular New Age teaching, in general the movement teaches that we are on the verge of a ‘New Age’ of love, peace and enlightenment . This will be the next stage of human development, but in order to achieve this goal we must rid society of those who would oppose it . We can see then that the New Age movement is not just unchristian but anti-Christian.
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.
These Programs Give You All The Physical Benefits While Keeping Your Christian Faith Front And Center
Experts cannot say enough about the benefits of stretching, breathing, and mindfulness. But don’t be misled into the thinking that yoga is the only choice out there for engaging your body, mind, and soul in exercise. In the last few years a number of exercise programs have popped up that provide Christians all the benefits of yoga but without the things that most concern them — namely yoga’s philosophical incompatibility with Christian teaching.
One of the most recent newcomers to this field, which is now being used in Catholic schools, is a program called PrayerMotion, developed by a medical doctor in Arizona, Anne Borik, who came up with the program to help her grandmother recover from a stroke. Not exactly exercise, but more of a relaxation, stress-relief, and focusing technique, the program uses a combination of music, breathing and hand “signing,” all based on 5th-century Benedictine monastic prayer.
“There is an area in the human brain responsible for feeling anxious and jittery that is activated when we are not thinking about anything,” says Dr. Borik. “But when we intentionally concentrate on a word and then bring it out in motion, that specific activity disables the anxious area in the brain, and we become more focused.”
Here are a few other mind/body programs that keep God and prayer centermost, even in the gym:
Let’s Look At Some Of The Ideologies Associated With Yoga To Evaluate How It Can Fit With Any Faith
The most taught ethical standards of yoga revolve around the Yamas and Niyamas. These are ways of acting and abstaining, which create a moral life.
But here is where my path diverges slightly from Patanjali’s. I believe that complete union with God can only come after one’s physical death. But still, as a Christian I can practice yoga with a clean conscience because the main ideas of yoga are not about the nature of God or how to worship. They’re simply ideals for living.
Different people bring in their own ideas, beliefs, and teachings and apply them to yoga, which gives each instructor their own unique flavor. At my studio, I request that our teachers honor all religious beliefs by keeping their teachings religiously neutral. We do not chant to Ganesha . We do not have statues of Buddha, nor do we have Christian symbols displayed. I believe that none of these are necessary for a full, rich yoga practice.
Yoga is not a part of my theological beliefs, but it has enriched my spiritual practices. If you come to the mat, you can choose how much spirituality you want to infuse into your own practice. Yoga is about getting to know yourself and the causes of your suffering, in order to remove unnecessary suffering from your life and find healing.
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Can A Christian Practice Yoga Without Getting Caught Up In The Religious Aspects Of It
“Connecting the mind, body, and breath helps us to direct our attention inward. Through this process of inward attention, we learn to recognize our habitual thought patterns without labeling them, judging them, or trying to change them. We become more aware of our experiences from moment to moment. The awareness that we cultivate is what makes yoga a practice, rather than a task or a goal to be completed. Your body will most likely become much more flexible by doing yoga, and so will your mind.”4http://www.yogajournal.com/basics/820.
As one can see, Yoga is more than just physical exercise. We do not want to leave our minds open to false teaching.
I’m A Christian Yoga Teacher: Here’s How I Think The Practice Relates To Faith
I am a Christian who practices, teaches, and encourages others to do yoga. In the years since I began my practice, I have heard many times from the Christian world that a true Christian cannot have anything to do with yoga. In my opinion, this is not true at all. On the contrary, I believe that yoga can enhance people’s spiritual practices—whatever those may be.
Yoga is a tool that can be used for whatever end you wish. You might come to a class hoping to relax, or maybe you want to relieve pain in some part of the physical body. Or, you might use yoga as a way to connect with a higher power.
I’ll use a personal example as an illustration: My whole life, I’ve been high-energy. When I would begin a prayer, I would set out with the best intentions to speak with reverence to the Creator. But my mind always wandered. Sometimes, it was less than a minute or two and I was off, thinking about something completely unrelated. That’s not how I want to address the Most High. But I’m human and had never been taught to meditate, so I drifted.
But yoga changed all that for me. Since practicing asana and meditation, I can now focus my mind for longer periods of time, showing the proper respect God deserves.
But My Yoga Class Addressing Christian Yogaand Yoga For Exercise Only
Most Christians today are unaware of the pagan spiritual reality behind the practice of yoga. Most teachers in our culture do not even fully understand the spiritual implications of what they teach. Yoga has been cleverly masked in our society so that most Christians think there are no negative implications so long as they 1) Just do the exercise part, or 2) Simply plug Jesus into the practice and call it good.
I strongly disagree.
I find no example in scripture where the Lord suggests that a good way to get closer to him or to honor him is to find a popular spiritual pagan practice that was created and developed for the purpose of worshiping and seeking communion with false gods, and just plugging his name in. I looked and looked, but I just don’t see it. What I do see is the exact opposite. What I see in scripture is a repeated calling for us to separate ourselves from the appearance of anything evil, to be an example to those around us of God’s teachings–to be his ambassadors. He calls us to be careful to not stumble those around us by practicing the freedom he gifts us.
Oh come on, yoga isn’t evil, you may say. Jesus himself said to take his yoke upon us, so if yoga is instruction on yoking, what is wrong with just pushing aside the whole background in demonic worship thing and using it as a practice to yoke with Jesus?
The Effect of Freedom . . .But that was the Old Testament, aren’t you being legalistic? Aren’t we free from the law?
Section 2: What Is Yoga Is It Ok For A Christian To Practice Yoga
Can Yoga ever be Christian?:
Yoga is a practice that has become very popular in the United States. According to a 2008 study, there are 15.8 million Americans who practice Yoga. Before we can answer whether Christian’s should practice yoga or not, we need to define what Yoga is.
Yoga is a practice found in all sects of Hinduism. There are different types of yoga, but all are touted as a means to achieve unity with the divine and thus to earn salvation. There are several practices within Yoga. These include, but are not limited to meditation, repetition of sacred sounds or syllables , breathing techniques, acrobatic exercises, and positioning one’s body in difficult postures.
Meditation is central to all forms of Yoga. Meditation helps its practitioners to be able to find release from the endless cycle of birth, death, and rebirth. “Yoga is a method of spiritual training whose purpose is to integrate or unite the self. A physical exercise, its goal is nonphysical-uniting with God. Yoga teaches that people should attempt to yoke the individual spirit to God, to atman – the individual soul or essence of a person – and to Brahman.” So we see that Yoga is essentially physical exercises in which one tries to attain unity with the universal divine essence of Hindu theology.
So Should Christians Practice Yoga?
Can a Christian practice yoga without getting caught up in the religious aspects of it?
Is there anything wrong with doing stretching exercises?
3.Ibid, page 10.
Why Christians Should Pray And Research Yoga Before Practicing It
Since then, God has only further confirmed my decision, despite the fear of being legalistic. After all, it seems everyone practices and enjoys yoga. Doctors recommend it. Churches offer it. Even children learn it. However, as Christians, I think it’s wise to prayerfully discern, after adequate research, any practice that derives from other religions.
As a Church, we don’t talk about it enough, but the Bible makes it clear that there is another world – a spirit world – that is at war with us. “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” . It’s important we don’t give our enemy a foothold, but instead “test everything; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil” .
Yoga Is The Missionary Arm Of Hinduism And New Age Spirituality
As a child growing up on Long Island, I became involved with yoga at the age of seven when my mother and I began watching a daily yoga exercise program on television.
My mother, an attorney , enjoyed yoga so much that she became a yoga instructor and gave free classes to small classes of college students in our home. I was the little “demonstration model” and loved the attention!
For the next 22 years, I was heavily involved with yoga, metaphysics and New Age spirituality until I came to the end of myself and surrendered my life to Jesus Christ.
I call yoga “the missionary arm of Hinduism and the New Age movement”— and I’m not the only one.
Swami Sivasiva Palani in his January 1991 “Open Letter to Evangelicals” in Hinduism Today, yoga instructors are “Yoga Missionaries.”
“A small army of yoga missionaries – Hatha yoga , Raja, Siddha, and Kundalini – beautifully trained in the last 10 years, is about to set upon the western world,” wrote Swami Palani.
“They may not call themselves Hindu, but Hindus know where yoga came from and where it goes,” Swami Palani said.
These concerns have caused many to wonder what they can do as a yoga alternative–stretching exercises? Or are there some kind of “Christian moves” that could serve as an alternative to yoga?
IS there such as thing as yoga for Christians? No. And here’s why…
Should Christians Do Yoga Is Yoga Compatible With Christianity
In the present day, in nearly any city, suburb, community, or college campus, we can frequently see people engaging in what they know as “yoga”, a practice which they think will help them achieve peace, relaxation, fitness and/or a “focused” mind.
In addition to its wide representation in movies, TV shows and other media, a study by the Yoga Journal depicts that 20.4 million Americans practice yoga in the present day, which conveys the shocking popularity of yoga.
Since we live in the Western world, we dwell in eclectic societies with diverse philosophies and influences. Historically, outside influences have always tried to infiltrate the church, even since the early first century A.D. in the Roman Empire. Now that we are in the last times, this has not decreased in any way, and we should be prepared.
The practice of yoga appears to have proliferated to a large degree, in part aided by a lack of awareness regarding its origins. We will carefully zoom into, scrutinize, and flesh out the origins of yoga until there is no doubt as to where it came from, what it consists of, and answer the question: Should Christians do yoga?
What Do Christians View The Main Concern Of Practicing Yoga
Christian followers’ main concern is that it worships a false entity and pulls away from God’s glory. By breaking down some of the Bible scriptures, we can understand some Christians’ perspectives, which may have different views on how they read. For instance, in Psalm 16:4, “Their sorrows shall be multiplied that hasten after another God; their drink offerings of blood will I not offer.” Is a scripture that some believe the idea of yoga fits into. That practicing yoga will pull them away and worship false idols, and this would represent that those who practiced this have fallen in a way that is detaching, and cursed manipulating into worshipping a false prophet.
This interpretation has also been found to suggest meditation, within its traditional roots, to be labeled as a dangerous activity as it encourages the mind to be empty. As Joshua 1:8 reveals, “Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.”
Emptying the mind does not support this scripture, and explains why some are unsure of participating in meditation and may view its action as a dangerous activity. Yet, in this context, it sees an opportunity to fill the mind with verses that engage in a connection that keeps Christ as the focal point. So, its meditation does not waver from its original purpose, the intention to glorify and celebrate the gospel of Christ and the Christian beliefs.
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Is There Anything Wrong With Doing Stretching Exercises
This is a fair question since stretching is a major part of yoga. There is nothing wrong with stretching. In fact, stretching is a very useful exercise to help people stay healthy. The problem comes when one incorporates Eastern “meditation” techniques or other inherently religious practices that distinguish yoga from mere recreational stretching. One needs to make a distinction between purely stretching and yoga. So if people are just exercising by stretching and not practicing yoga, then feel free to participate.
What Is The Spiritual Significance Of Common Yoga Poses
If you practice yoga , you may recognize some of these common poses from yoga class. Though helpful stretches in Western culture, they also have a spiritual significance in Eastern religion. William Kremer writes, “To those in the know, for example, the yogic asanas, or positions, retain elements of their earlier spiritual meanings.”
1. Sun Salutation
This series of poses is done as a warm up or cool down in yoga. It gets the blood flowing and warms the body. The benefit of a sun salutation is to stretch the whole body and prepare you for more challenging poses if done as a warm up. As a cool down, its aim is to calm and focus you, preparing your mind to face the rest of the day.
In Hinduism, the Sun Salutation or “the Surya namaskar is a series of positions designed to greet Surya, the Hindu Sun God.”
2. Cobra Pose
This part of the Sun Salutation stretches the torso, as you look upward and arch your back with hands planted firmly below shoulders on the mat with toes gently resting behind.
The alternate meaning behind this pose also called Bhujangasana is the Hindu idea “the spirit-snake power that is activated and elevated in the body by means of yoga; also associated with Patanjali, the sage who wrote the Yoga Sutras, who is depicted as a hybrid man-snake.”
3. Warrior Poses
4. Half Spinal Twist
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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” that’s “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. It’s one of those things like Christmas and Easter, which once was pagan, but now has been co-opted for Christian worship.
Yoga Poses Are Offerings To The 330 Million Hindu Gods
How can that be?
“Yoga is Hinduism,” said Subhas Tiwari, Professor of Yoga Philosophy and Meditation. “Efforts to separate yoga from its spiritual center reveal ignorance of the goal of yoga.” –Subhas Tiwari, Professor of Yoga Philosophy and Meditation at the Hindu University of America in Orlando, FL .
Biblical Principles That Apply To The Practice Of Yoga
Here are six principles from Scripture that I believe we should apply to the practice of yoga. I tried to keep my summary of each principle short for the sake of this blog post. Realize, though, that each principle could be discussed at length on its own. Hopefully, my short summary and Scripture references can be a starting point for your own study of God’s Word as it relates to yoga.
Remember, that Scripture says to “examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good” . We should be like the Christians in Berea, who studied the Scriptures daily so that they could properly examine the teachings they were hearing. .
Christians Should Actively Pursue Holiness
The first principle to apply to yoga is that, as Christians, we should be actively pursuing holiness in our lives instead of trying to see how close to evil we can get without sinning. 1 Peter 1:15-16 says, “but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; because it is written, ‘You shall be holy, for I am holy.’” 1 Corinthians 10:31 says, “Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”
“How much of this pagan practice can I incorporate into my life without sinning?” is not the right question to ask of someone who is striving to be more like Christ. Some better questions to ask are, “Will this practice help me pursue holiness? Will it make me more Christ-like? Will it draw me closer to God? Will it bring God glory?”
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 say—but not everything is beneficial. ‘I have the right to do anything’—but 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 don’t practice.
“Be careful, however, that the exercise of your rights does not become a stumbling block to the weak,”1 Corinthians 8:9.
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