September 19, 2016
Once skeptical of yoga, I now find it to be a practice of creation, communion and care.
Thank you for these comments. I, too, enjoy the therapy of Yoga and have gotten involved with some local churches that offer it. However, I also know the other side of Yoga--Anasura Yoga, Kundalini, the Ashram ... the Hindu gods involved, the statues placed and food given to them -- Yoga exercise is fine, learning to "channel" your mind is not especially when you are told "YOU" are the master of it. That's where I had to draw the line and do it quickly. My younger sister got so into Anasura Yoga, she left her faith and has embraced the fact that she is in charge of her body and life. If you have a Christian "yoga-exercise base" group I think that is good. But be careful--very careful. A retreat center I know has had some of them in and it's about as dangerous as some cults.
yes I agree that yoga is/can be a very powerful thing to use for our physical and connection with God.
what you miss in your sharing is what to do when/if your yoga instructor brings in eastern prayer as a set up or finalize of the yoga.
i took a very hard look at this, and got counseling from my pastor, to actively take on a prayer with Jesus Christ in my life as the eastern prayer is brought forward.
with God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit in my life.
to take this on warmly, and clearly, and thanking Him in my life.
then the mat is a place of God. (with a capitol G)
A beautiful apologetic for the legitimate incorporation of the physical exercise of yoga into one's spiritual life. I, too, have known many Christians who benefit from the contemplative nature of yoga in the same way that passionate runners also describe communing with God during their exercise.
I do agree with the cautions voiced by the commenters above, though. Because of its specifically Eastern origins and the fact that yoga as a concept is far more expansive than yoga as actually and most often practiced in the urban West, it could become a stumbling block for less mature Christians.
And, to the extent that that is true, I think Romans 14:13ff has much to say to us on the matter. This seems like one of those matters where discernment is of paramount importance, both as individuals and as the church corporate.
Try telling that to an Indian Christian who has lived through the actual yoga and not as it is often packaged for the West.
1. "The gesture Namaste represents the belief that there is a Divine spark within each of us that is located in the heart chakra. The gesture is an acknowledgment of the soul in one by the soul in another." - http://www.yogajournal.com/article/beginners/the-meaning-of-quot-namaste-quot/
Though most of us still say Namaste with the meaning of "hello"
2. Reasons for Yoga-
According to David Gordon White, from the 5th century CE onward, the core principles of "yoga" were more or less in place, and variations of these principles developed in various forms over time:
Yoga, is a meditative means of discovering dysfunctional perception and cognition, as well as overcoming it for release from suffering, inner peace and salvation; illustration of this principle is found in Hindu texts such as the Bhagavad Gita and Yogasutras, in a number of Buddhist Mahāyāna works, as well as Jain texts;
Yoga, as the raising and expansion of consciousness from oneself to being coextensive with everyone and everything; these are discussed in sources such as in Hinduism Vedic literature and its Epic Mahābhārata, Jainism Praśamaratiprakarana, and Buddhist Nikaya texts;
Yoga, as a path to omniscience and enlightened consciousness enabling one to comprehend the impermanent (illusive, delusive) and permanent (true, transcendent) reality; examples are found in Hinduism Nyaya and Vaisesika school texts as well as Buddhism Mādhyamaka texts, but in different ways;
Yoga, as a technique for entering into other bodies, generating multiple bodies, and the attainment of other supernatural accomplishments; these are, states White, described in Tantric literature of Hinduism and Buddhism, as well as the Buddhist Sāmaññaphalasutta; James Mallinson, however, disagrees and suggests that such fringe practices are far removed from the mainstream Yoga's goal as meditation-driven means to liberation in Indian religions. - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yoga#Goals
3. The four major schools of Yoga all end up with eastern religions - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yoga#Schools
4. The very word "Om" is deeply embedded in Hinduism
5. The various "aasanas" or postures are often worship postures to deities.
As an Indian who is also a Christian, the best advice I can give his - "Steer clear of it". It's way deeper than it is portrayed.
From Today's Christian Woman, "..there are commonly used words and poses antithetical to God's Word. For example, the word "namaste," often said at the close of yoga classes, means, "I bow to the god within you." The sound "om," chanted in many yoga classes, is meant to bring students into a trance so they can join with the universal mind. And the "salute to the sun" posture, used at the beginning of most classes, pays homage to the Hindu sun god." I prefer to avoid anything that may pay tribute to ungodly beliefs.
This reminds me of the similar criticism I hear about God in the AA program. Yes to not scare off agnostics atheists and those against religions we tell people to have a higher power. However God is mentioned a lot and the Lord's Prayer is still said at many meetings I attend Many finally get a taste of a loving God and start attending a church to learn more and go to celebrate recovery (CR) meetings where I and others can express our praise in the true higher power Christ my Lord and Savior I give God the glory for my almost 8 years of sobriety from alcohol and drugs. But I tell friends it's so nice to be able to pray to my Lord for any issue in my life and to give Him thanks for his goodness and grace. GA
I took a beginner's yoga class and dropped out when the instructor started pushing Kundalini. I must agree with all the cautions mentioned .
Please note that yoga is an offshoot of the Hindu religion. Physical activity is always healthy in no matter what form it is. But what you're describing is not yoga, if you're in touch with Christ, you are not practicing yoga. By its very nature yoga is clearing your mind of everything, however God tells us to meditate on his word and fill her mind with his truth.
In Reply to Lisa Peterson (comment #29187)
I think the bowing is a good practice of humility. I honor the image of God in each person in the class. That's how I interpret it.
In Reply to Brian Pierson (comment #29189)
Did you find another practice that you enjoyed? What did you do in its place?
In Reply to Gerald (comment #29188)
Praise God for 8 years of sobriety! Joining in that celebration with you. I find yoga is an introduction to God's loving kindness that many find in AA.
In Reply to Pallab Gupta (comment #29185)
I agree that there are layers of yoga that I have not mentioned here in this article. You have named a few of them.
Let me speak to one of the things you named: Namaste. As Christians we are called to respect the image of God in each person, Christian and not. When I put my hands in prayer and bow and say "Namaste" I am reminding myself that this person is the image of God. That kind of practice of humility could only be good for us.
Thanks for your extensive comments. My fear in writing this is that I would appropriate a religious practice and make it Christian. In its roots, it's not Christian, but I think the Holy Spirit is found in places that extend our Christian boundaries. As I said, I find Christ on the mat.
Peace to you!
This isn't to write off all yoga, but I would add to the cautions voiced here. I've seen yoga become a way of life for several friends, leading to deep personal and spiritual confusion. Ideas and practices have consequences.
I've come to the conclusion that we can do anything with Christ at the center or without Him. We can pray either to God or a false god. We can dance as an expression of praise and worship to God, sensually to seduce, or filled with demonic spirits to glorify satan. Yoga is no different. We could chant and enter in to a trance state while practicing the Hindu belief system of yoga. Or...we can use the physical benefits of yoga, while meditating on God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit, and using it as an intimate time of worship for Him.
Thank you and God bless!
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