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15.11.11

Should Christians Do Yoga?

This is really controversial topic simply because different people have different views on this. You can practice yoga while mediating on the Word of God; there are "Christian yoga", doing the poses and not the mediation doesn't constitute as actual yoga, and etc. Now, I'm about to discuss why I think Christians should not make a habit of practicing yoga. I repeat: this is simply my own opinion. And this article specifically to Christians. If you're reading this, I encourage that you learn something new, but you do not have to take this to heart. Christians, I hope you get something from this and make you ponder...


First, you should know some things about yoga:

  • Yoga means "to yoke" or "to unite" 
  • Yoga is an Eastern pagan tradition that dates back to 5th century B.C.
  • Namaste means "I bow to you" in Sikh (Sikhism)
  • Ommmm…is a common phrase associated with yoga. Om is the deepest pitch the throat can produce and therefore signifies the most deepest part of the human soul
  • Each of the positions in yoga is a worship stance for one of the 330 million gods in Buddhism
To those who say that practicing the poses are harmless, perhaps you did know this:

  • Sun salutation = sun god 
  • Headstand poses = achieve even mind, partial enlightenment, and even fearlessness 
  • Animal poses = get some of the attributes each animal possesses (lion = bravery; eagle = clear mind) 
  • Tree pose = calm, balanced, and in control 
  • Warrior stance = spirituality 
  • Lotus = self-mediation for a deeper state of enlightenment
Those poses are worship stances to different gods. You are not just doing arbitrary poses to something non-existent; you are bowing down to a pagan god.

1.Karma yoga−it appeals to ethics or the active temperament. The objective is selfless service.
2.Bhakti yoga−appeals to the emotional temperament. The objective is pure love and devotion
3.Raja yoga−appeals to the mystical and scientific temperament. The objective is self-control and self-mastery
4.Jhana yoga−appeals to the philosophical/enlightment and intellectual temperament. The objective is wisdom and knowledge

I've seen Christians say that "I'm a level 1/2/5/etc. level yogi" and there is something you should know about these so-called "innocent and inevitable" levels:

1.Yama−universal morality
2.Niyama−personal observances
3.Asanas−body postures
4.Pranayama−breathing exercises, and control of prana (vital energy in the body)
5.Pratyahara−control of the senses
6.Dharana−concentration and cultivating inner perceptual awareness
7.Dhyana−devotion, Meditation on the Divine
8.Samadhi−union with the Divine

The first 3 levels are just beginning levels, to help you test the waters, so to speak. But I assume you'e familiar with this type of scheme: the evil lures you in with innocent looking tactics, and when you give in entirely, he won't let you go without a fight. As you go to the 7th and 8th levels, you begin to realize that implementing the spiritual aspect of yoga. 

Another thing you should realize is that yoga incorporates Buddhism, Hinduism, and various other Indian and Eastern religions. (Just type in "yoga" in Wikipedia and you'd be surprised what you will find out to as what yoga actually is.) In fact, David Frawley, an American Hindu author, and founder and director of the American Institute for Vedic Studies ties in Buddhism with yoga. “There are eightfold (ashtanga) system of Yoga emphasizing an integral spiritual development including ethical disciplines (Yama and Niyama), postures (Asana), breathing exercises (Pranayama), control of the senses (Pratyahara), concentration (Dharana), meditation (Dhyana) and absorption (Samadhi). This constitutes a complete and integral system of spiritual training.” He is clearly knowledgeable in this field and if he says that yoga incorporates spiritual aspects, then it would be wise to adhere to his words and consider that yoga isn't as harmless as it seems. 

“You shall have no other gods before Me. “You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God…Exodus 20:3-4
When you practice yoga, do the poses, or even the mediation aspect, you are bowing down to another god. And you committing idolatry towards God. When you enter a yoga studio and say Namaste, you are entering the temple (figuratively speaking) of that god (or gods).

You adulterers! Don't you know that making friends with the world makes you enemies of God? Therefore, whoever chooses to be the world's friend becomes God's enemy. (James 4:4)

Why are you practicing yoga? Have you ever asked yourself this question? Now, before you say it's because it promotes wellness and boosts healthy benefits, are you doing it because it's popular and everyone else is doing it and celebrities are doing it (helping its popularization)? You need to understand that as a Christian, you are alienated from the world anyway because you have Jesus Christ living in you and that makes you strange, not like everyone else. When you do yoga, you are making friends with the world, finding an ally in the evil one, and God will have to respect your decision, and His hand will come off you. Yes, I realize that sounds austere, but the truth of the matter is that you need to decide: God or the world (and yoga constitutes as the world because, according to the Word, the world is anything that does not bring God glory).

Don't copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God's will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. Romans 12:2
One thing that yoga primarily teaches is that you are your own god, you are the center of your own universe, you must empty your mind in order to align yourself with the world. Now, does it say anywhere in the Bible that we worship ourselves? No! Also, the first part of this Scripture tells us not to copy the customs of this world. Yoga, as you guessed it, falls under that category. Yoga tells us that we don't need God since we are our own god and that we rule our universe with our own moral code. 

If you want the health "benefits" that yoga gives, practice Pilates. If you were to be honest with yourself, 100% complete honesty, you call yoga "YOGA" for a reason, even though you are not doing mediation. Practice Pilates instead. It's stretching, increases health benefits, and there is no spiritual adultery against God. Plus, it's not a practice that is done by religious Buddhists, Hindus, Sikhs, or New Agers. But that decision is up to you; I'm just providing you with an alternative.

To conclude, I will ask you this (and I realize this might cliche): what would Jesus do? Seriously, what would He do? Would he practice yoga to connect more with His inner Self? (If so, what job would the Holy Spirit have?) Would He enter another temple and worship that god(s)? The decision is ultimately yours, but for me (as this is my own personal opinion), I don't see the need to do yoga. I exercise (to promote wellness and health), I pray and have His Word in my heart so that it never departs, and I'm constantly close to Him. So I have no need for a tawdry counterfeit when I have the real thing.

REFERENCES:
Yoga Vidya Gurukul University. (2010). Pranayama - (From Hatha Yoga and Ashtanga Yoga). Retrieved 11 10, 2011, from YogaPoint.com: http://www.yogapoint.com/info/pranayama.htm
Frawley, D. (n.d.). Yoga and Buddhism. Purify Our Mind. Retrieved November 10, 2011, from http://www.purifymind.com/YogaBudd
Fristoe, D. (2010, October 25). RELEVANT Magazine - Is it Okay for Christians to Do Yoga?. RELEVANT Magazine - God. Life. Progressive Culture.. Retrieved November 10, 2011, from http://www.relevantmagazine.com/life/whole-life/features/23243-is-it-okay-for-christians-to-do-yoga
Yoga Journal - Yoga Journal Releases 2008 "Yoga in America" Market Study. (n.d.). Yoga Journal: Yoga Poses, Classes, Meditation, and Life - On and Off the Mat - Namaste. Retrieved November 10, 2011, from http://www.yogajournal.com/advertise/
Bagby, L. J. (n.d.). Health - Should Christians Do Yoga?. CBN.com - The Christian Broadcasting Network. Retrieved November 10, 2011, from http://www.cbn.com/health/fitness/bagby_yoga-alternative.aspx
West, M. (2007, September 14). Christians are mixed up...in mysticism. RenewAmerica. Retrieved November 10, 2011, from http://www.renewamerica.com/columns
West, M. (2007, September 14). Christians are mixed up...in mysticism. RenewAmerica. Retrieved November 10, 2011, from http://www.renewamerica.com/columns
Ireland, J. (n.d.). Spiritual Meanings Of Yoga Postures | LIVESTRONG.COM. LIVESTRONG.COM - Lose Weight & Get Fit with Diet, Nutrition & Fitness Tools | LIVESTRONG.COM. Retrieved November 10, 2011, from http://www.livestrong.com/article/395082-spiritual-meanings-of-yoga-postures/

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3 comments:

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  2. I don't have Twitter, but thank you! :)

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  3. well written, logical, scriptural. i like. :)

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