Why Yoga Cannot Be Claimed By Any One Religion
The argument that Christian yoga is not real yoga, in my view, assumes that yoga is or has been a static tradition that has always featured Hindu symbols, practices and ideas.
In reality, as research shows, yoga includes a variety of historical as well as living, dynamic traditions that have changed and evolved. Yogas history is rooted in a vast array of South Asian religious movements going back over 2,000 years ago. In India alone, yoga practitioners have included Hindus, Buddhists, Jains, Christians and Muslims.
Yoga has never had a single purpose for its seekers whether it is philosopher-ascetics seeking enlightenment, ecstatic devotees expressing love of God, people in pursuit of yogic superpowers, fitness buffs seeking the perfect yoga butt or Christians wanting to get closer to Christ.
In other words, yoga has never belonged to any one religion, but it has always been packaged in a variety of ways. This is the problem with the question of whether or not Christian yoga is real yoga there has never been one real yoga.
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 Judah’s captivity by the Babylonians. King Nebuchadnezzar chose Daniel, one of the youths from Judah, to live in his palace. For three years, King Nebuchadnezzar’s 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.
2. A Woman’s Testimony
A Final Question To Consider About Yoga
After my experience and reading and thinking about yoga, I still dont know the right answer. I do not judge or condemn my Christian friends who practice yoga. I also know about myself, based on other experiences in my life, that I am sensitive to spiritual warfare. Maybe this is the reason the Holy Spirit guards me against yoga – to protect me. However, the question I continue to ask myself is, Why would I participate in something that has even a possibility of being a part of spiritual warfare?” Being sensitive to spiritual warfare, I do not want anything to do with activities that could open that up in my life.
Furthermore, 1 Corinthians 10:31 tells us, “So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” When I assess yoga through this lens of “glorifying God,” I don’t think it passes. It dances too close to a spiritual realm that’s not from God. Of course, we don’t always choose activities based on whether they glorify God. Think about the shows we watch, the music we listen to, and our participation in social media. However, the seriousness of involvement in spiritual warfare escalates the amount of discernment we give yoga.
I believe the best advice we can follow when discerning yoga is 1 Thessalonians 5:21: “Do not stifle the Holy Spirit. Do not scoff at prophecies, but test everything that is said. Hold on to what is good. Stay away from every kind of evil.” If there’s even a hint of conviction, it’s wise to pause.
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Helpful Resources Regarding Christians And Yoga
Are you still uncertain about whether Christians should practice yoga? Here are some helpful resources for you to use in your own research on this topic.
- I highly recommend you listen to the following two podcast episodes where a Christian, who was a former yoga instructor, shares her story and why she believes Christians should not practice yoga. Here is part 1 and part 2 of the interview.
So If Lust Is Synonymous With Covetousness Then What Is Covetousness
Thou shalt not covetthy neighbours house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbours wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbours.
So up to this point we have established with absolute certainty that lust is sin and lust is tied directly to the 10th commandment.
The 10 commandment shows us by the context in which covetousness is used what it means. Is covetousness finding your neighbors house desirable? No it is not. Is covetousness dreaming about or fantasizing about what it would be like to live in your neighbors house? No it is not. Covetousness is the desire to sinfully possess something that does not belong to you.
We have seen this story play out in many movies. A man desires the land or home of another man. So he offers him money for it but he wont sell. He says he will never sell it. Was the first man finding the second mans land desirable a sin? No it was not. But if he cannot legally acquire this land and begins to think of how he can illegally acquire that other mans land he has now gone from righteous desire to sinful covetousness.
Lust is born when a mans natural God given sexual desires are turned into sinful sexual covetousness and he desires to unlawfully possess a woman.
I know your head is probably spinning. Your presuppositions about lust have been completely blown out of the water.
But we are now coming to end our journey so just hold tight just a little longer.
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Reasons To Reject Eastern Meditation And Yoga
I hope you love the products and resources I recommend here at A Little R & R. Just so you know, it is possible that I get a commission and collect income from the links on this page. for more info.
I am not a doctor, none of the information on any of these pages pertaining to the Ketogenic Diet or Adrenal Fatigue should be considered medical advice and should not replace the care of your personal physician. I am simply eager to share the information I have learned while on my own journey to health. Before you embark on this journey, please consult with your physician.
We live in a very stressed-out culture that is constantly looking for ways to unwind and destress. Just about any doctor or health expert will tell you to do one thing: Meditate.
The meditation God was talking about in Joshua 1:8 differs greatly from Eastern meditation. In fact, Ill go so far as to say that participating in any form of meditation, apart from biblical meditation, is opening the door wide to the enemy.
I shared a little about this in my earlier post: Will God Protect You From Adult Coloring Books, when we looked at the adult coloring books with Mandalas and why this is a dangerous practice for Christians.
Any time we mix Christian discipline with any other religious practice we anger God.
In the Old Testament God said this:
Throughout the Bible He calls himself Jealous.
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.
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Yoga Is Inherently Religious
But, is Westernized yoga truly nonreligious? Neither of my guests on a recent episode of my weekly radio show Up for Debate argued it was. Laurette Willis, the founder of PraiseMoves, said yoga served as a gateway into New Age religion for her and her mom. Her testimony is extremely compelling and worth the four minutes it takes to hear it.
Similarly, Bonnie Meyer, founder of a Christian-based yoga ministry called Studio 4:8, said yoga initially led her into spiritual experimentation, including Hinduism, Buddhism and even Wicca. She added that in the common yoga studio, theres a Buddha statue, theres om-ing, theres chanting. Its glorifying Hinduism.
However, Bonnie then described that when experiencing very beautiful Hindu worship before statues at an ashram in Colorado, she had an epiphany: Why cant we do this for Jesus? I could feel him just like deep-down inside of me. And then, after that, thats when I started questioning my teaching . And, Im like I want to bring Jesus into my practice. Bonnie describes her experience in this two-minute clip.
Again, neither Bonnie nor Laurette argued that yoga was nonreligious. Clearly, to them, the positions, the breathing and the philosophy that imbues yoga is deeply religious. The only question was, can yoga be made Christian instead of Hindu?
Yoga Styles Christians Should Avoid
The main question that you should be asking yourself is which style of yoga you need to stay away from. Partaking in a style that involves elements, incense, chanting, or anything that has been influenced by the Hindu religion, should be dodged. Below is a list of styles that are in the danger zone and should be avoided.
The three Hindu influenced yoga styles that Christians should avoid are the Vinyasas, Kundalini, and Jivamukti styles. These three types of yoga focus on the spiritual basis of self-healing and meditation on someone other than the Lord. While following these postures, poses, and instructors, someone could be welcoming in evil spirits and other types of spiritual warfare. It would be best to stay away from these classes and tutorials because of the Hindu culture that these styles have originated from.
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Should Christian Women Wear Leggings As Pants
Since leggings and yoga pants very clearly reveal a womans form are they inappropriate to wear? Is a woman tempting the men who see her in leggings to lust after her or is it not her fault if they do?
The whole leggings and yoga pants debate was brought back to into the national spot light last week when two girls were not allowed on a plane because they were wearing leggings. The Washington Post reported on the event as follows:
A United Airlines gate agent barred two girls from boarding a flight Sunday morning because the girls were wearing leggings.
Another girl who was wearing gray leggings had to change before she was allowed to board the flight from Denver to Minneapolis, a witness said.
United, responding to tweets about the incident tweeted that United shall have the right to refuse passengers who are not properly clothed via our Contract of Carriage. And added, This is left to the discretion of the agents.
The airlines passenger contract says for the safety of all passengers and crew members, the airline can refuse to let a passenger board if the passenger is barefoot or not properly clothed.
So was it improper for these girls to be wearing leggings on this flight? And a much broader question would be is it improper for Christian women to wear leggings or yoga pants at all in public?
So How Do We Meditate Rightly
There is so much more to Biblical meditation than mindlessly repeating Scripture over and over again. Don Whitneys book Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life has many insightful suggestions on how to meditate on the Bible. They include:
1. Repeat the text and emphasize different words each time
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The Resurrection Of Jesus And His Ever
Resurrection has been well understood by accomplished yogis of India since the dawn of the highest ages. Jesus himself was a realized yogi: one who knew and had mastered the spiritual science of life and death, God-communion and God-union, one who knew the method of liberation from delusion into the kingdom of God. Jesus showed throughout his life and death his power of complete mastery over his body and mind and the oft-recalcitrant forces of nature. We understand resurrection in its true sense when we comprehend the yoga science that clearly defines the underlying principles by which Jesus resurrected his crucified body into the freedom and light of God.
No other science has detailed the descent of the individualized consciousness of God as the soul into man and its evolutionary and spiritual ascent back into Spirit. In this modern age, Kriya Yoga has been brought forward after being lost in the dark ages, as a definite method to hasten the spiritual evolution of human consciousness and open the inner cerebrospinal pathway of ascension, releasing the soul through the spiritual eye into the kingdom of the Holy Ghost, the Christ Consciousness, and the Cosmic Consciousness of God the Father.
Distinguishing The Biblical Definition Of Lust From The Cultural Definition Of Lust
This is the huge presupposition that sits right in front of us. We are presupposing what lust is. In our language when we think of lust we think of sexual arousal. If a person is turned on sexually by the sight of someone who is not their spouse that is lust according to our culture.
But is that the definition of lust according to the Bible? Lets find out.
Remember that passage from Romans 7:7 where Paul was saying lust was sin and we were all saying Amen!? Well he actually tells us what it is sin because God said in the 10 commandments Thou shalt not covet. So what does that tell us? It tells us that lust is synonymous with covetousness.
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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.
What Does The Bible Say The Teachings Of Yoga And The Bible Are Antithetical
Listed below are some of the main teachings of the Yoga Sutras, the ancient doctrine of Yoga, believed to be dated around 2,000 years ago. They have been divided into five main points. The yogic teaching is listed first, then what the Bible has to say about it. Please note that the Bible is every bit as applicable to us today as it was when it was written. There are a vast number of Bible verses in direct opposition to the teachings of the Yoga Sutrasway too many to list in this comparative space . Please note the responses listed under Bible are not an exhaustive list of scriptures regarding each topic, but rather a sampling of verses as it pertains to the Yoga teaching.
Please also note that this teaching has been and IS the foundation of yoga. Many teachers have not been properly taught what they are teaching, and many are unfamiliar with the following truths about yoga. Their lack of education does not negate what is at the core and under the surface of the physical elements they teach.
*Please note all boldface font within scriptures has been added to point attention.
1. GodYOGA:The god of yoga is called Ishvara, and represented by OmYoga Sutras, 1.25: The god Ishvara is the source of all knowledge.
1.27: This god Ishvara is represented by the symbol and sound of Om.
BIBLE:The God of the Bible is the Lord. He is the Father, the Son Jesus, and the Holy Spirit in one being. He is the only God.
Leviticus 20:26: . . . Do not practice divination or sorcery.
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History Of Christian Yoga
The Christianization of yoga is not new. For example, the 19th-century American social radical and Protestant Christian Ida Craddock was an early sex therapist who incorporated yogic elements into a system for enhancing sex for heterosexual married couples.
She considered the Christian God to be a third partner in the sex life of a married man and woman. Her efforts were not without controversy. In 1902, facing incarceration for charges of obscenity, Craddock took her own life. The attempt to silence Craddock was based, in part, in yogaphobia, a fear of yoga grounded in the assumption that it is incompatible with ones own religious doctrines or moral codes. Over a hundred years after Craddock, yogaphobia is still alive and well.
Despite this, Christian yoga is taking many forms in different parts of the world. Christian yoga entrepreneurs are marketing products and services that claim to strengthen Christian identity and practice.
There are now Christian yoga brands founded by Protestant Christians, such as Yahweh Yoga and Christ Centered Yoga. The website for Holy Yoga, based in Michigan, describes it as a community of believers on mission to bring the Gospel to the ends of the earth through the modality of yoga. Holy Yoga has an instructor training program, and there are hundreds of Holy Yoga classes each week in locations across the United States and Canada.